Seek Initiatives to Stand Out from Your Competition
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
You’re proud of your telephone answering service; at least I hope you are. You strive to serve your clients and their callers well. You do things with excellence. You relish the fact that you facilitate hundreds or thousands of communication efforts every day.
Yet your competitors feel the same way. Every answering service does.
So how can you stand out? What can you do to differentiate yourself from every other service, which seems to most people to be just as impressive as yours?
You should focus on providing quality service; everyone does. It’s not a distinguishing factor anymore but an expectation.
Instead look for ways to better serve your clients. Here are some areas to consider.
The first idea to better serve your clients is to start before they become your customer. One area to look at is the amount of time from when they click on your ad to when they’re having a true conversation with someone on your team. An automated response or AI-powered bot doesn’t count. Only true human interaction matters.
Strive to shorten this time as much as possible. Establish systems to aid in this effort, and reform your sales staff’s perspectives of the imperative need to respond right away.
Once you’ve closed the sale, the next step is setting up their account and beginning to answer calls. Again, measure the time from when they commit—such as submitting paperwork or signing an online form—to when you answer their first call.
Streamline this process is much as possible. Cut bureaucratic steps. Look to do functions in tandem rather than sequentially.
Yet balance speed with completeness.
Don’t subject them to a generic solution within an hour or even a few minutes with the goal to add the details later. This will give them a negative first impression of your answering service, one from which you might never recover.
The goal is to minimize the time from when they hire you to when you’re providing complete, first-class service. The longer you take, the more opportunity they have for buyer’s remorse to sit in. Take too long and they could cancel service before they even start.
The TAS industry has made great progress in better serving clients with all the innovative options in your arsenal of tools to get them their messages and information quickly and effectively. Yet most of these capabilities exist on your platform, which means every other answering service has these options at their disposal as well.
Look for other innovative ways to help your customers with their communication needs, delighting them in the process. This will be a key distinguishing characteristic to better serve your clients.
Have you ever received an invoice that was hard to understand? Did it contain descriptions that didn’t make sense or line items that delineated information that confused you?
Do the invoices your answering service sends carry these same issues?
Information on most invoices reflect what the business needs to better manage the financial aspect of their operation. The side effect is a less-than-ideal presentation to customers.
This is backward. Don’t frustrate your customers with a confusing invoice just because it is what works best for you.
Redo your invoicing with a customer-first mentality to better serve your clients.
Though we wish problems never arose with the service we provide to our clients, they do. The obvious solution is to strive to minimize the occurrence of problems in the first place.
Yet when they do pop up, how you react is critical. This includes how quickly you respond and how accurately you resolve the problem. A third, but often overlooked, element is how the customer reacts to your efforts. If you’ve corrected their concern and they don’t realize it, you still lost.
Moving Forward to Better Serve Your Clients
As you review this list of areas for improvement, pick the one that offers the biggest potential impact to your customers. Then work toward improving it. This will help you better serve your clients and stand out from your competition.
Learn more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.