7 Tips to Manage Your Phone Answering Virtual Assistants
If you are a product/service company managing several client queries in a single day, you must have used an automated phone answering service to cater to customer requests. These services ensure that you address your customer concerns efficiently and are rated as a customer-centric brand.
An automated phone answering service works great for frequently asked questions by customers. However, experts suggest that hiring a dedicated phone answering virtual assistant can help you better serve your existing and potential customers. In addition, they can act as a full-time assistant, letting you focus more objectively on critical business aspects.
What is an Automated Phone Answering Service?
According to BrightLocal’s latest research, 60% of US consumers prefer to contact local businesses over phone calls —and 15% prefer to check the business’s physical location before they inquire about their services. Besides that, email, web forms, social media, and other impersonal communication constitute up to 25%.
Growing businesses often use an automated phone answering service to handle calls quickly and respond to customers. It is like an extension to your in-house team and makes the calling team’s work easier by forwarding calls only when the issue needs to be escalated or requires an upper management’s response. For example, suppose your staff cannot answer customer queries due to a meeting or a team holiday. In that case, automated phone answering services will answer the phone for you while you are busy.
Automated phone answering systems offer small businesses similar benefits to those enjoyed by much larger companies. Typical features are business call forwarding, custom greetings, and voicemail to email. In addition, the latest options like online faxing and business text messaging are also available. Automated phone answering services do not require installing expensive hardware or confusing software, so changing the existing features and upgrading to the latest ones is easy. One can simply enhance their brand presence in the marketplace with excellent customer recall and enjoy improved customer satisfaction.
Why is it important to have a virtual assistant for answering customer questions?
According to American Express, 68% of customers believe a polite virtual call answering agent is key to excellent service. As customers interact with your support team, phone answering VAs become the voice of your business and satisfy them with incredible customer service.
In an era where one negative review can lead to slashing revenues, virtual call answering assistants play an essential role in boosting customer loyalty and increasing business profitability.
Be it while managing an automated phone answering service or a VA, challenges are bound to exist, and there’s always room for improvement. Here are some common challenges businesses face with an automated phone answering service – with tips on solving them.
7 Challenges of Automated Phone Answering Service and How to Solve Them
1. Technology Outages and Delayed Responses
While technology has improved a lot, there are still some circumstances where it fails. For example, it is challenging to manage accents, language, and semantics with automated calling services. Often, customers aren’t directed to the right agent to address their issues.
Having a virtual call answering assistant on standby can help you avoid scenarios of frustrated customers and delayed responses. A VA can monitor customer calls, take over the conversation when required, and address the issue with ease.
2. Seasonal Uplifts and Staff Unavailability
Catering to the ever-growing demand can help your small business to grow profitably. However, seasonal uplifts can make order, fulfilment, and service delivery difficult.
Suppose your internal customer support team is overburdened with calls and cannot respond to them at the earliest. In that case, you risk losing new customers’ immediate and long-term loyalty. Here’s where virtual assistants for phone answering can boost your capacity to process phone inquiries faster. Offering an after-hours phone answering VA will empower your brand to capture more inquiries and resolve them more quickly.
3. Lack of Proper Crisis Management
Customer service serves as the frontline regardless of the crisis your business is in, and the lack of a crisis management plan leads to chaos. Here are tips to keep your team prepared:
- Ensure you have a standard operating procedure to handle escalations and crises.
- Ensure your virtual assistant phone answering service can identify and escalate queries that need immediate attention.
- Your virtual phone answering assistants should know when to use compensation/discounts to resolve customer anger. This will avoid the risk of transferring it to upper management.
4. Multiple Communication Channels
Virtual call answering agents use many tools to communicate with customers and streamline their day-to-day tasks. Besides the typical calls, there are chat messages to read and website inquiries that need to be resolved.
Keeping track of the queries across multiple channels can be troublesome, but it’s vital for work. Rather than making your VAs work across each channel, centralize all customer communication on a single channel.
Having all of your client communication in a single channel makes it convenient for your VAs to talk to customers. In addition, managers can help uniformly delegate tasks for the whole VA team. This also guarantees that there’s no unintentional cross-over and that every VA is given equal responsibility to handle customer communication.
5. Not Having An Answer to Customer’s Questions
Not every time does your automated phone answering service answer a customer query. While hiring virtual assistants to answer calls may help to a certain extent, handling this challenge is more about what VAs shouldn’t do than what needs to be done.
Conduct a training session for your internal support and your VA team to avoid being unclear while responding to inquiries. The training need not focus on trying out a new tool and staying updated with company policies. Instead, it should simply emphasize upskilling to improve productivity. Set up your calling team for success with proper response strategies and healthy customer relationships.
6. Transferring Calls to a Different Department
Multiple calls transferring to different departments can be frustrating for customers. In such cases, customers often end disappointed after having nothing to do with rehashing data.
Before your VA transfers the call to another team, ask them to clarify the issue in basic terms. They must explain why they are moving the call to another colleague and how that virtual call answering assistant can assist them better. This small step guarantees that your customer is aware that your team has understood the issue and is aiming to resolve it faster. Also, encourage your virtual call answering assistants to communicate and make swift decisions. This will save your customers time and energy to repeat the issues again and again.
7. Reduce the complexity during the training period
Constant meetings, updates, and training can at times become overwhelming leading to complications. For example, you might be leading onboarding instructional meetings for your fresh recruits to give them all the data they need to know.
Such huge information delivered at one go may be difficult for your recruits to remember. It is possible that when it comes time for them to apply these insights during a client call, they’re not recollecting everything. Thus, execution is lower than anticipated, and your contact focus administrators are ceaselessly helping their representatives. So, it is important that you deliver them the right information on priority and in chunks to get the maximum output.
Bonus Tip – Inconsistent Tone of Communication
The average time required to respond and resolve a customer inquiry is 12 hours. One of the primary reasons for delayed responses is that your virtual call answering assistants use different communication styles.
Some use a push communication style where customers can choose from options available as solutions. Others use a pull communication style that derives straight to the answer.
To be honest, both push and pull communication have their benefits. Using a consistent tone of communication helps to interact with customers better and resolve their issues at the earliest.
As per sources, 90% of sales leads go cold within an hour of the first inquiry. To stay profitable and earn market credibility, small businesses need to respond to their customers’ needs. Answering phone calls and resolving their queries faster is one of them. The risk of poor response time can hurt your conversions and brand image. Further, it can drain your financial resources and give your competitors a larger share in the market.
At VGrow, we offer virtual call answering agents your business can rely on 24/7 to answer customer calls and messages and resolve their issues. With VGrow, you can offer your customers the support they need from your business in the minimum time possible.
VGrow’s virtual assistants save your time by filtering unnecessary calls. The team will allow you to prioritize customer callbacks that need your team’s immediate attention. Our flexible solutions provide improved call-handling efficiency from our experienced VAs – leading to happier customers!
Get in touch with our experts today to discover how VGrow VAs can assist your team. Book a free consultation or set up a free trial to know what works the best for you.