How To Prevent Your Business Phone From Becoming Your Business’ Biggest Crutch

How To Prevent Your Business Phone From Becoming Your Business’ Biggest Crutch

Since Alexander Graham Bell’s conception of the telephone in 1876, it’s been one of the most reliable ways to communicate.

As the technology of phones has advanced, that state of how we use them has advanced, too; we text more than we call, and we Zoom or FaceTime instead of meeting in person.

Although the ways people personally use their phones have changed, the classic phone call is still present for businesses–especially for small businesses.

In fact, the majority of customers still choose to phone a business over other communication methods.

According to a report by BrightLocal, 60% of respondents said that they prefer calling a business on the phone after they’ve found them online.

callback report

The explanation for this is simple: phoning a business is the easiest and quickest way to get your questions answered and to create a human connection. However, despite this fact, even the best small business owners know that answering every call promptly isn’t feasible due to reasons like being tied up with other business priorities.

These owners may not realize that not answering every phone call can have a large negative impact on the business.

So, if you’re a small business owner, what can you do to better manage your business phone usage while still running your business? Here are three ideas to help:

Set aside daily time for monitoring your phone and responding to voicemails

Maybe you’re a team of one, and you run your business solo. Or maybe you have a small but mighty team.

Either way, you’re bound to run into situations where you can’t answer the phone because you’re busy dealing with other tasks like servicing a client, counting inventory, or filing taxes.

I am too busy

By dedicating daily time towards monitoring your phone and responding to voicemails, you can focus on creating quality connections with your customers without being distracted by other things going on.

This allows you to better understand your customers and their unique needs, which increases customer loyalty because they understand that their business matters.

The downside here is that allowing calls to go to voicemail can lose you business.

As high as 80% of callers won’t leave a voicemail because they don’t believe they’ll get a callback. For many small businesses, voicemail has become more of a liability than an asset.

Implement a callback system

Since time is precious, you can quickly lose customers if they have to wait in a queue to talk to you.

Call back systems let customers request a call back from a business, either as soon as possible or at a time that suits them, meaning shorter waiting times, happier customers, and more leads.

According to SoftwareAdvice, 63% of customers prefer a callback option over sitting on hold.

Call back data

The downside here is that customers may view being added to a callback queue as if they’re less important than other callers.

If this is the case, you’re likely to lose these customers since they’ll prefer to choose a business that cares about their time and interest.

Hire a trusted partner to help

The single best solution to optimize the management of your business phone is to hire a receptionist to help.

Yes, we’re biased, but with good reason…

Hear us out

A trusted receptionist can bring massive benefits to your business, from giving you more time to focus on delivering your service to increasing your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.

The only challenge is deciding whether to hire a full-time receptionist or a virtual receptionist.

Hiring a full-time receptionist can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.

First, you’ll need to source and interview candidates, which can take loads of time and effort. Second, you’ll need to add your chosen candidate to a full-time payroll, which costs, on average, approximately $43,750 a year when you factor in things like benefits, vacation pay, employee insurance, and so on.

Hiring a virtual receptionist is simple, cost-effective, and efficient.

Smiledog virtual receptionists are set up to learn and perform reception duties for all types of specialized businesses, which means that onboarding can be done easily and promptly. Since Smiledog virtual receptionists are paid per minute rather than through a salary, the average cost per year is $8,748–saving you 80% of the cost of a full-time receptionist.

With Smiledog, you can rest assured that your investment will bring more returns than you even anticipated.

Wrapping Up

Although the way that people use phones continues to change, your business phone holds its value.

Customers will continue to call your business looking for your service, so it’s important to have solutions in place that allow you to optimize the management of your business phone and answer every call the first time.

If this isn’t possible on your own, don’t fret. More advanced solutions are available, like Smiledog’s backup reception services, to help you out without breaking the bank.

Want to learn more about Smiledog’s services? Try Smiledog today.

4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Appointment-Setting Services

4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Appointment-Setting Services

Time is the most challenging thing to manage when you’re running a business–especially a business that provides services to the public.

The reality is there are so many tasks to juggle, but only so much time in a day. While a calendar is supposed to help with balancing your time, managing a calendar can often be a job in and of itself.

help postit card

However, your business’s success depends on how effectively you’re able to manage your time. The inability to balance your time between providing services and handling administrative tasks can have a negative impact on how people view your business.

For service-based businesses, scheduling appointments, and doing so efficiently, is the key to profitability and long-term success. But like any business, you also need time for planning and strategizing for the future.

To ensure that you are keeping your appointment book full and maximizing your revenue-generating activities, while also keeping you and your clients happy, you need to understand the techniques that frame scheduling best practices.

An appointment-setting service can help you greatly with this.

Hiring this service has many benefits and will help you run your business more efficiently in a variety of ways–giving you more opportunity for growth.

Here are four ways in particular that your business will benefit:

1. Less room for error

Every client hates when they’ve booked an appointment and it ends up being canceled or delayed due to errors from the service provider.

This situation will typically result in clients moving on to a different provider that values their time more.

To deal with this and ensure there are no errors or upset clients, an appointment-setting service will send real-time updates to staff calendars so that no appointment slots are double-booked or overlooked.

no more double booking

From your business’s perspective, clients that cancel appointments last minute or end up being no-shows cause inefficiencies and frustration.

This is why appointment reminder systems are paramount.

The best systems offer automatic confirmation that leave voicemail or text messages with reminders. Alternatively, your team may choose to manually confirm appointments with your clients.

These options will serve as huge assets to cut down on missed opportunities for revenue. Additionally, having a cancellation policy and open communication systems for your clients will allow for fewer last-minute misses.

2. Stronger communication and transparency

As a business owner, transparent and efficient communication with your clients is key.

Having an appointment-setting system helps to reduce miscommunication by sending automatic notifications and confirmations for upcoming appointments.

This automatic communication ensures that all clients are being responded to swiftly so that they understand that their time and business are valued.

Improving transparency will also positively benefit data reporting and billing practices.

This will show you opportunities where you can perhaps pad or streamline your staff availability.

  • Are you allowing sufficient time per service, or too much?
  • Does your staff availability align with business needs, or can you pad it?

Automated systems help you to identify ways to streamline processes and increase efficiencies, company-wide.

3. Better qualifying process

Not every client that contacts your business is going to be worth your time.

Improving your qualifying process by hiring an appointment-setting service will put measures in place that help your sales team determine whether an appointment is even the right fit for your services.

Additionally, it will:

  • Ensure that your activities positively impact revenue;
  • Expose any problems within the opportunity;
  • Provide clarity for the next steps;
  • Eliminate any surprises that may arise;
  • Improve the morale of your team because pre-qualified clients are more likely to convert.

Not only this, but strong qualification is also important to clients because it helps them determine answers to questions like:

“Can I afford this product/service?”

“Will this business help me solve the problem I’m trying to solve?”

An appointment-setting service can allow your sales team to better qualify leads who are likely to buy again from your business.

we want to buy more stuff

Finally, if you don’t have the resources to set appointments, it’s better to outsource these services than try to hire and train an in-house team. You may lose out on opportunities while trying to build out your internal resources.

4. Healthier reputation and reviews

Clients buy products and services from businesses they trust.

The best way to start earning that trust is by impressing your prospects with a high degree of professionalism.

Having an organized appointment-setting process is something that all clients will appreciate when interacting with your business.

shaking hands

Appointment-setting is one of the most professional cold calling methods businesses employ to make their presence known to their clients on a more personal level.

When done right, appointment-setting leaves a lasting, positive impression of your business in the minds of your prospects, giving them more reason to consider buying from you.

Hiring an appointment-setting service will benefit your business because they possess the knowledge, skills, and experience that will contribute to your business’s long-term growth.

Wrapping Up

Managing your time as a business owner and service provider isn’t easy but there are cost-effective solutions like an appointment-setting service that can ease some of the challenges.

Here’s a recap of how this service can help benefit your business:

  • Less room for error–eliminate double bookings, no-shows, and last-minute cancellations of appointments.
  • Stronger communication and transparency–increase efficiency and reduce miscommunication.
  • Better qualifying processput measures in place that help you determine whether an appointment is a right fit for your services.
  • Healthier reputation and reviews–an organized, professional appointment-setting process leaves a positive impression on clients.

If you’re considering using an appointment-setting service to help your company reach and turn prospects into clients, do your research and find a service that is dedicated to increasing business and increasing your bottom line.

At Smiledog, we customize our services to meet the needs of every client because we understand and are committed to eliminating the many common difficulties that arise from using advanced features of web-based calendar systems.

We currently use eight different web-based calendars that operate dynamically online, meaning that changes on Smiledog’s end are automatically reflected on the client’s side.

Interested in learning how Smiledog’s appointment-setting service can benefit your business? Visit us today.

How does a Virtual Receptionist complete small tasks for my business? | Smiledog

How does a Virtual Receptionist complete small tasks for my business? | Smiledog

How can a Virtual Receptionist Strengthen my Business?

 

You might be wondering what sets Smiledog apart from its competitors. After all, we’re not the only virtual reception service out there. Smiledog really approaches its role as virtual reception provider in a “full service” way. By this we mean, we want our services to strengthen your business by being virtually indistinguishable from the services provided by an in house receptionist. Often, you would have an in house receptionist that has other duties besides answering the phone. Our receptionists are capable of handling your small tasks and special instructions while providing our high quality virtual receptionist services.

Customized Virtual Reception Services

How we handle your calls is determined mostly by you! In other words, when we begin providing services to strengthen your business, we interview with you to learn more about your business and the nature of your phone calls. This makes it possible for us to determine the best way we can answer your calls. If you want to provide us with a script, we are happy to implement it. If you don’t have any preferences, we can suggest a professional greeting appropriate to your industry. Our real goal is find ways for you to take full advantage of the services we offer.

We Do More Than Just Answer Phones

If you are using our services for answering calls, it’s possible you might also be interested in our performing more small tasks as part of our answering services. This may be of particular interest to clients interested in full time reception options. Need us to fill out a form when a client calls, and submit the form to you? We can definitely do this! When you set up services with us, we can get these forms in place so that get the information from your callers that you need.

We Book Appointments Too!

For those businesses whose calls largely are related to setting up, rescheduling, and otherwise handling appointments, we are here to help! Our services are a great option for practitioners and business owners who don’t want to deal with the added overhead of hiring a full time receptionist for appointment setting purposes. Our Smiledog virtual receptionists can answer calls and schedule appointments using real-time web based calendaring systems. We can even reschedule appointments for the day if you are sick or have an emergency keeping you away from the office.

Have Another Need Not Mentioned?

Do you have another small task that you think our virtual receptionists could do to help streamline your business? Since our services are completely customizable, bring us your idea, and we will do everything possible to meet that need. We love to find new ways to help our clients!

Learn More About How We Can Help You!

If you’re ready to strengthen your business and learn more about the suite of options we have for our clients, call Smiledog today! We are excited to learn more about your business, and we are certain to have some great solutions to streamline your operations.

Contact us by phone today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more!

The key elements to excellent customer service

The key elements to excellent customer service

Some say great customer service is an art. Others say it comes down to a scientific mix of character traits. We think the key elements for success lie somewhere between the two. We have put together a comprehensive list of skills, that are both developable and observational in nature. Meaning, your team can start working on these skill sets without having a natural aptitude for customer service.

Patience
For many, when they reach out to a business with an inquiry, it is from a place of confusion and sometimes frustration. Answering numerous and often repetitive client requests requires patience. Patience in dealing with clients is one thing, patience with each other and for the core of the business overall is crucial to an efficient and high-functioning organization.

Communication
This one might seem fairly obvious but you’d be surprised how easily communication styles can be misconstrued. Having consistent communication guidelines in place for your team can eliminate gaps from representative to representative. Implementing language you would like your team to use and holding regular training and role-playing will ensure that clients always receive the same level of service when they interact with your company.

Attention to Detail
Listening is one of the most important concepts behind excellent customer service. Active listening; looking for cues ‘between the lines’ will make the difference between placating a client in the moment and building a loyal client relationship for life.

Knowledge
Knowing the product or service they’re selling/supporting should be second nature for customer service experts. However, without proper training, many front-line representatives are left without the proper tools. Encorporating product and service training and ideals into your onboarding process will ensure a consistent knowledge base for your front-line team.

The power of positivity
Training your team on the power of using positive language will make a huge difference in how clients feel. Specific training on reframing statements from a negative perspective to a positive perspective will have a huge impact. If you’re not sure where to start, this positive language starter guide is a great resource.

Keeping your cool
While being completely unflappable can be difficult in heated situations, the ability to do so can turn a situation around in a hurry. While most interactions will likely remain civil, there are certain situations where keeping your cool is the ultimate solution. Clients will mirror the demeanour of their representative and often need that structure to see that the situation is solvable. The saying ‘cooler heads prevail’ should be the motto for your client service team.

Empowered Work Force
Giving your client service team the autonomy to make decisions on the fly will allow them to solve problems quickly and efficiently. This sense of empowerment will also give your team the confidence they need to handle situations with ease and professionalism. With proper training and role-playing scenarios, you should feel confident that your team can make decisions that reflect the values and goals of the company as a whole. 

Always be Closing
Your customer service team should know that their main mandate when concluding a client interaction is their satisfaction. Clients should leave the conversation feeling that their needs have been met or will be as soon as possible. Your team should verbally acknowledge that this is their mandate and confirm with the client before ending the conversation that their needs have been met.

Changing Perspective
Having empathy for client concerns can turn a situation around quickly and efficiently. The ability to think from a different perspective will allow your team to see issues from another angle, often resulting in creative solutions that work for everyone.

Time Management
Your team should understand that there is an adequate amount of time to dedicate to each issue. Sticking to those boundaries will result in more efficient conversations and a clear course of action should things veer out of scope. Finding another resource and acknowledging the inability to help is the best course of action.

If your team is struggling to reach the level of client service you’d like, we can help, reach out if you’d like more information!

 

 

 

How to make the most from your Appointment Scheduling

How to make the most from your Appointment Scheduling

How to Make the Most from your Appointment Scheduling

Believe it or not, there is a science to efficient appointment scheduling.

Scheduling appointments is a vital part to clinic efficiency and as a result, clinic profitability. Understanding the techniques that frame scheduling best practices, will ensure that you are maximizing your revenue generating activities.

As appointment scheduling specialists, here are a few of the techniques we have crafted and perfected for our clients.

Schedule in blocks

Scheduling from noon is a common best practice in the world of scheduling. Many clinics use this process to minimize gaps in the day and maximize revenue opportunities. Scheduling from noon means you schedule backwards from 12:00 for your morning appointments and forward from 12:00 for your afternoon appointments. This method also helps to reduce operating costs by enabling clinic owners to schedule providers to maximum capacity. When the odd gap does present itself, savvy clinic owners use those time slots to hold team meetings, have their team catch up on documentation or complete admin tasks.

Implement a Reminder System

Appointment reminder systems are paramount in decreasing no-shows and last minute cancellations. There are a few options for such systems, including automatic confirmation systems that leave voicemail or text messages with reminders. Alternatively, clinics may opt to manually confirm with their clients. Either system will serve as a huge asset to cutting down on missed opportunities for revenue. Additionally, having a cancellation policy and open communication systems for your clients will allow for less last minute misses.

Create a Waiting List

For those times when you don’t catch a last minute cancellation, it is a great idea to have a client waiting list that you can blast last minute opportunities out to. Social media, text or email blasts are a great way to engage with those clients who may be waiting patiently for an opportunity to come in.

Analyze Appointment Scheduling History

At least once a month and then bi-annually and annually, take some time to analyze your appointment book. Look for patterns where your day was ahead of schedule or behind. Were there certain times of the year when you had higher no-shows or cancellations? Where your waiting list was longer than others? Look for those opportunities where you can perhaps pad or streamline your staff availability. This is also a great way to see if you’re allowing the appropriate amount of time per service and perhaps make some adjustments to increase efficiency.

Double Book with Caution

Many clinics opt to maximize capacity by double booking when possible. Double booking essentially means having two clients booked at the same time or overlapping and servicing both during a window typically allotted for one. This can be a highly efficient and profitable business model, however, proceed with caution. Ensure that your provider can adequately serve both clients without the possibility for poor customer service. That may mean analyzing the efforts required for particular services and matching lower effort appointments with higher effort appointments to ensure viability.

Prioritize

Lastly, it is important to understand which services bring in your best margins and allow for those to be your top booking priority. This may mean blocking off time each day for those high priority appointments to ensure that you can get them in efficiently. However, remember to leave room for all of the services you offer.

As a clinic owner, your ‘book’ is one of your most valued tools. By following these best practices, you will ensure that you providing the most value for your customers and your team!

If you’d like to learn more about our appointment scheduling services, get in touch for a free demo!

Building trust in a virtual workplace

Building trust in a virtual workplace

How to Build Trust in a Virtual Workplace


Building trust in a virtual workplace is the cornerstone of all high-performance organizations. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, high-performance companies report 50% more productivity, 76% more engagement, 74% less stress & 70% more alignment with company purpose. 

In a virtual workplace, building trust has its own unique challenges. Without casual interactions at the water cooler, it becomes more difficult to build rapport. Often colleagues lose context for each others’ actions in a remote setting, unable to intuitively pick up on external behaviour influences. Finally, as is always the case, digital communication leaves room for many misunderstandings. 

So how do leaders build trust in a virtual workplace?  

It comes down to a number of factors. The first is kindness.

It may seem over simplified, but treating people with respect is the first step to building a trusted environment. How does this work in a virtual setting? It means allowing for flexibility, understanding that working from home may have some unique challenges and making space for that. Successful leaders carve out time to work with each employee one on one. Additionally, they set up regular weekly meetings as a team to stay connected. Not only that, they know it is important to allow time for employees to connect with each other, so they create opportunities for that. 

Building trust in the virtual workplace requires competence.

Strong leadership skills like communication and transparency are key when working with a team remotely. With so much opportunity for misinterpretation, it is imperative that leaders put communication at the top of their priority list. They don’t always need to have all the answers, but they must be honest about it when they don’t. These actions build a solid foundation for their team.  

Successful remote leaders possess is reliability.

 When building trust, it is essential to do what you say you are going to do. If you promised to send follow up documents at a certain time, ensure that you do. Stand by your commitments, try not to cancel meetings last minute, let your team know that you value their time.  

They foster connection

 Finally, successfully commanding a virtual team, requires creating a genuine connection. Ensuring that your camera is on for every online meeting. Looking directly at the camera emulates eye contact. Making efforts to connect ‘off-line’ via check-in texts and phone calls. Lastly, making sure your team feels comfortable to reach out when they are facing challenges without fear of repercussions. 

 
More and more companies are veering toward a virtual model based on the current situation, but also in a more longer term capacity. Understanding the unique challenges you may face as a remote leader will ensure that you are equipped to succeed. 


If you’d like assistance with building a virtual team, we can help!