Thinking of outsourcing your switchboard?
Whether you’re a solicitor, an accountant or an estate agent, your business will undoubtedly rely on your ability to take phone calls efficiently. They need to be answered in your company’s tone of voice, handled perfectly and diverted to the correct department. This will ensure not only an efficient business process, but ultimately it will make a difference on how you are perceived by your customers in terms of responsiveness.
Testament to the times we live in, customer expectations are very high when they are seeking a service and they will be unforgiving if your processes don’t keep up with their expectations. Add to that the breadth of services you will wish to cover with your hard earned clients, to increase your fee income, it would be detrimental to your business if you are not able to convert a call into ongoing revenues for you.
Numerous organisations, especially at the smaller end of the market rely on telephone answering systems or virtual assistants to handle their calls. Effectively, they have outsourced their switchboard or phone system to a 3rd party company, that employs resources to answer the incoming call in your organisation’s tone of voice. So as far as your customers are concerned, it is your company they have connected with and they will either be diverted back to you, or they will leave a message with the 3rd party agent, who will inform you of any messages.
There are drawbacks to this process, a couple of these are explored below:
a) Hidden Costs
Through industry knowledge, we know that you could pay up to 3p per second to route your call to your allocated resource within the 3rd party, with the minimum cost being 30 seconds per call – that’s nearly £6 for a one minute call! That doesn’t include the calling plan associated with the arrangement!
b) 3rd Party Resource
How confident are you that the allocated resource by the company you have engaged to deliver a critical part of your business process is up to the task that you would expect?
We agree that the receptionist function is ubiquitous and therefore is unlikely to change, but the level of control you have on the 3rd party is generally limited. For example, you could not expect to train them specifically on activities that you may wish to carry out for your firm. Of course, at this point you may reconsider your options if came to it.
Another aspect to consider would be the ability of the resource to comply to the regulatory requirements that form the backbone of your business – if they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind. Yes, you have contracted with the 3rd party but have you considered this element of your exposure that any potential breach of the compliance regulations may bring?
What are your alternatives?
With technological advances, like many other office applications that you have become accustomed to, you can host your phone system and even your switchboard (also known as call centre) in the cloud.
There are many options available to you in terms of what you run and how you implement these solutions as part of your business – in this way, you’re not at the mercy of a 3rd party, you own your system and you avoid unforeseen costs. Add to this the fact that any staff you currently employ can be moved on to delivering more value added tasks through appropriate training. Let’s face it, you’ll benefit from their experience with you to date and you will have the added bonus of gaining their loyalty. As an example, you might want to retrain them to focus on acquiring new customers for your practice/agency.
Key benefits of acquiring your own system are 100% uptime, including failsafe mechanisms that ensure you never lose a call. Even better is the opportunity for you to integrate your new system with your commonly used apps, such as Office 365/Google Suite, Text Messaging platforms and common CRM systems such as HubSpot and Zoho to name a few.
Fully featured systems would cost a fraction of the price of engaging a 3rd party company, whilst ensuring you’re in full control of your business and customers 24 hours a day. Intelligent call routing, hunt groups, call attendants and call recording features all make for an excellent and immediate return on investment – what’s more, you get a very generous call allowance on some plans as part of your bundle so your costs will be more predictable at the end of the month.
Well, simply put, it’s all about survival of the fittest!
Being in the industry, you will already recognise some of the key challenges for business services firms over the next few years. These include the ability to acquire new clients, time management, smarter pricing (as opposed to hourly rates), managing costs and managing existing clients.
Gone are the days of generous fee income. Frankly if you’re not answering your calls or you’re not handling them properly, you are turning away business. We’ve all seen what has happened in the retail sector – those that have not been able to keep up with customer expectations, or if their business processes are not agile to the way business works, are now confined to history!
Contact us if you recognise any of the following attributes within your business:
a) You’re spending too much time on non-billable activity within your business process.
b) You need to consider smarter pricing to look at new clients, for which you will need to release cashflow through better cost management.
c) You need to attract new clients and manage existing clients better by maintaining better communication with them.
d) You want assurance around your information security risks and posture to ensure you protect your business processes, people, systems and reputation from cyber attacks.
Flexicom Solutions services SMEs in all sectors, but with a particular focus on the Business Services sector (we define that as Accountants, Solicitor’s firms and Estate Agents).
We provide the whole suite of IT and Communication solutions to complement your business processes, which means we will only recommend products, services and solutions based on your needs. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you transform your business to address your biggest challenges and concerns.