Running a business from home can come with its own unique challenges, including but not limited to having to beat back solicitors from the door while juggling client teleconferences and relatives who still don’t understand that you do actually have a real job.
But even as that small business you started in your basement grows, it doesn’t always make sense to invest in a building or even rent an office space in order to fuel expansion.
Virtual offices and remote receptionists are a great alternative, especially when supported by an answering service. It can be tricky knowing just when it’s time to take the plunge, though. Too soon and you may be spending money on services that you could be investing elsewhere, but too late and you risk losing valuable client leads.
How do you know if your home-based office needs an answering service?
Key Signs Your Home Office Needs Support
You can absolutely run a successful business from a home office. In some industries and niches, a home office is all you need even if you grow quite large. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need help at some point. One of the easiest ways to take some of the pressure off is to hire an answering service.
Here are some signs to look for that will help you know when it’s time:
- Calls are constantly interrupting your workflow. When you’re a one-man band, the pressure can really build. Orders for products or services have to be filled, but someone’s got to take care of the customers who are calling, too. You end up answering the phone calls, interrupting your flow and causing your work to take twice as long (if not more) as it would have if you were able to work through.A virtual receptionist could have answered the phone and provided basic information for your customers to make it easier for you to keep on doing the thing that you do best.
- Customers are complaining about your phone tree. Computerized phone trees can be relatively inexpensive and easy to use as your team grows, but they’re not always all that customer-friendly. Often they’re confusing, frustrating and downright rage-inducing.Some callers will simply hang up rather than having to deal with another phone tree. Instead of relying on a computer to entice your callers to become customers, a virtual receptionist or answering service operator can provide a friendly greeting and help the caller get straight to the person they’re trying to reach. You’ll also get bonus points for professional polish!
- Your callers aren’t leaving voicemails or waiting on hold. The fact of the matter is that people simply won’t wait very long to get an answer. According to research by firm Telcompaper, only 25 percent of callers who actually get as far as your voicemail box will bother to leave a message.Put another way, 75 percent of callers are probably calling the competition. Having an answering service that only charges when it answers a call means having the flexibility to service one or one hundred callers with real, live humans that can take messages and answer inquiries, giving those callers a reason to become long-term customers.
Any home-based office looking to move to the next level can benefit from the help of an answering service. No matter if you’re doing graphic design or running an eCommerce shop, answering services can give you increased reach and the appearance of being a much larger and more prestigious organization with very little additional expense.