As you are probably painfully aware, small business owners are always expected to be available. Even after official business hours, you end up taking calls from customers, clients or vendors. If you frequently get calls after business hours, you can either choose to ignore them (which would be unwise) or consider getting an after-hours phone number.
With an after-hours phone number, you’ll be outsourcing your call management to an agency. When someone calls your business during after-hours, they will be automatically routed to an agent who’ll answer the call and provide the necessary information.
The agent would also take down the message and communicate that to you. Depending on the nature of the services you opt for, after-hours phone service may also offer value-added features. These could be to provide answers for order-related queries, book appointments and even manage leads during after-hours.
Customer care: Some customers may not have the time to call you during office hours. With after-hours phone service, you’ll be able to provide seamless customer support 24/7. This will improve your brand equity and increase your customer retention rates.
Live agents: The caller will get to interact with a live agent instead of a voice response system. This humanises the business and improves its customer relationship management. Some prospective customers may not also want to leave sensitive information on an answering machine.
Appointments: A missed appointment is missed revenue. If you run a salon, car maintenance service, dog grooming service or a healthcare centre, an after-hours phone service can function as a receptionist and schedule appointments for you.
Order management: If you sell products or services online, with an after-hours phone number, you can ensure that your e-commerce functions 24/7. Customers will be able to place their orders even when your office is shut.
Lead prioritisation: Your after-hours phone services will be able to determine which are serious leads worth pursuing and if needed, forward those calls to specific individuals.
Uninterrupted family time: Routine calls after work hours can have negative consequences for your personal life. When you get an after-hours phone number, you’ll get an agent to receive and handle those calls.
Higher costs: You would have to pay higher fees for an after-hours phone number, especially if you opt for the premium services. As a small business owner, these recurring charges can be a significant expense for you.
Set-up time: It would take some time to set up your after-hours phone number. The agency would also need to know more about your business and how they should manage your calls.
A second number through a second-line app is a smarter alternative to an after-hours phone number. With its auto-reply feature, you won’t have to worry about missed calls as the callers will get a pre-written message about why you can’t take the calls. A second-line app is also a cheaper alternative since you don’t have to buy a new device or SIM.
Even in a highly digitalised world, most customers and clients would choose to call first. This is true especially if it’s a small business catering to a neighbourhood or smaller market. If those calls keep coming during evenings or holidays, it would be worthwhile to think about getting an after-hours phone number or a second number through a second-line app.
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