Business doesn’t stop because offices close for the weekend. Opportunities don’t have a 9 - 5 schedule. The next big deal could come late in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon. That’s why small business owners should be interested in an after-hours phone service.
Even if you’re committed to your business, you’re also human. You too need to rest, recharge and spend time with your loved ones. Unfortunately, that’s also when you might get business leads. Without an after-hours phone service, you would have to make a difficult choice.
When a business lead comes in, it’s your responsibility to get back to it as soon as possible. If your business response time is too long or if you don’t respond at all, you would have the following problems:
Your business will look unprofessional: If they can’t reach you on time or get a response, your operations will come across as unprofessional. In the business world, that translates to unreliable.
You lose money: According to a conservative estimate, missed calls can cost businesses around £35,000 a year. Remember that without an after-hours phone service or a second line for work, that money will go to your competitors.
You lose a chance to widen your network: Even if a lead doesn’t convert into business, it’s an opportunity to know someone and grow your network. That will only happen if you take the call or respond immediately.
You let go of urgent leads: If someone’s calling you outside of office hours, it means that they need something urgently. If you don’t respond immediately, they will have to find one of your competitors.
You can’t command premium pricing: If your business response time is long and you get back a day or two later, you may not be able to demand the price you have in mind. You lose your negotiating power if you start conversations by apologising for being late.
Your employees will be overworked: Of course, if you do force your employees to take calls and messages after work hours, they will be exhausted and frustrated.
The most important reason for small and medium-sized businesses to invest in an after-hours phone service or a second line of work is that business leads are a numbers game. You never know which ones will work out, so you’ll have to respond to every call and message.
Put simply, you lose all the chances that you don’t take.
Even among the ones that do materialise, some may be bigger than others. As per the Pareto principle, 80 per cent of outcomes come from 20 per cent of causes. The after-hours call you miss could be from a client with an extraordinarily large order or a vendor with low rates looking for a long-term commitment.
With a business answering service, you can route all incoming calls and messages to an external agency. They would have trained agents who would answer your calls professionally and forward them to the concerned individual in your team.
Some business answering services also handle basic queries from callers. These could be related to orders, deliveries, pricing or more information about your business. That frees up you and your team members to focus on more important aspects.
With a second-line app, you get a second line for work. It won’t be tied to any device and you would be able to take calls from your smartphones, laptops or tablets. This makes it the ideal solution for remote employees.
With auto-reply, even if you miss a call, you’ll be able to send a text explaining why you can’t take the call. That’s how smart businesses turn missed calls into opportunities. That also gives you work-life balance as you won’t have to repeatedly check your phone after work hours.
With an after-hours phone service either in the form of a business answering service or a second-line app, your business will work 24/7, without you having to.