Appointment Scheduling: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

Appointment Scheduling: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

According to Forbes, 75% of consumers say they would be more likely to visit a business in person if they have an appointment than without one. 

This means that customers today want the convenience of picking a time that works for them to visit a business. So as a business owner it is crucial you give your clients a seamless way to connect with you. The pandemic has been the biggest accelerator in shifting to this type of personalized service and companies need to adapt in 2022 to ensure survival. 

The days of clients popping in during your office hours are over.

Appointment Setting: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

Customers are now much more reluctant to give away their time. They want the certainty that when visiting a business someone is already scheduled to take care of them. This is simply the reality of what today’s consumers want. Quick and efficient customer service, on their time. 

A great way to help deliver that as well as relieve the pressure on your team is for your business to have a professionally trained receptionist answer the phone. So that when clients call they get a friendly welcoming voice who can answer all their initial questions then book an appointment with a specialist on your team. 

How can a business owner implement such a thing when hiring front-line staff has never been harder?  

That is where virtual appointment setting can be a huge asset for your business. It can give you the ability to provide quick and efficient customer service and eliminate the worry of hiring and managing new staff.

Let’s get into the 3 main benefits we at Smiledog believe virtual appointment setting can have for your business.

3 reasons your business needs virtual appointment setting

  1. Deliver quick and personalized service to your customers

The demand for quick personalized service has never been higher and the ability to maintain that with reliable staff who want to work has never been more difficult. A virtual appointment setting service solves both of those problems for you and more often than not, for less cost.

When your clients call they expect a person to answer and be able to help them. If you don’t, you’re putting your company’s reputation at risk every time a call goes unanswered. 

Having a person at the other end of the call gives your customers the personalized service they want. Someone who can quickly answer their questions and book them in is essential for building a trusted reputation for your company.

Appointment Setting: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

A virtual service ensures that you always have a friendly welcoming voice who can help, delivered by a professionally trained team member

  1. Improve productivity while reducing costs

Book appointments while you’re in appointments. A virtual service gives you a full team of highly trained and skilled receptionists that are available on your clients’ time.

You no longer need to worry about calls going unanswered while you’re working with another client. The stress of realizing you’re losing customers by simply taking care of another is no longer a problem. You can now dedicate your time to the client in front of you and drastically improve your productivity.

In fact, answering phone calls yourself throughout your day severely hinders your productivity. You need someone to help handle and prioritize those calls to make sure you spend more time on activities to grow your business. What better way to help spark your company’s growth by freeing up your day and reducing the cost of your front-line staff at the same time.

Appointment Setting: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

With a virtual appointment scheduling service pay for what you use and nothing more.

Let’s break this down on how it works exactly for us at Smiledog.

Our pricing is simple: your monthly base fee plus your minute rate. Completely pay as you go.

So if you used 116 minutes over the course of a month then this would be your cost breakdown: 

  • 2.29$/minute
  • monthly fee 149$
  • (2.29 x 116) = 265.64 + 149 = 414.64$

***an average booking call takes 2 mins***

There you have it, pay for exactly what you need and nothing more! If you would like a more detailed pricing list get in touch with us here

Now that you have a better understanding of how the pricing works for a virtual service it is easy to see how cost-effective it can be to implement a high level of personalized level of service for your clients without the heavy cost and time investment of employing a new full-time team member.

  1. Increase new revenue opportunities

Because a virtual receptionist is integrated with your booking software you can see how they are performing by simply checking the number of bookings made vs the number of calls they are taking. This allows you to keep them accountable and ensure they are making an impact. 

Appointment Setting: 3 Benefits to Businesses in 2022

Speaking about impact, you now have a fully professionally trained team of virtual receptionists at your fingertips to help you with customer service and manage your schedule. That is invaluable for a business owner who is trying to grow their business. Your virtual team will help you increase new revenue opportunities, improve customer satisfaction and reduce front-line admin costs, all in one go! You can now breathe easy knowing that your customers are cared for, the first time. 

No successful business owner has done it all alone and it has never been easier to get a great customer service experience behind your business. Your virtual team is waiting for you!

Wrapping up

Personalized virtual appointment setting is the way of the future because it allows you to deliver quick and personalized service, improve your productivity, reduce costs and achieve results to grow your business.

Outsourcing your reception and appointment setting to a virtual service expert is a much more tangible and cost-effective option for business owners in today’s market. It is quickly becoming the norm for many small businesses and it will continue to become more crucial in delivering the human voice back to our ever-increasingly digital world.

We would love to chat more about how we can help so get in touch with us today to schedule your free virtual appointment setting assessment  or learn more about our service here

Telephone Answering Service: What It Is and Why It Isn’t Enough

Telephone Answering Service: What It Is and Why It Isn’t Enough

Wouldn’t it be great if customers only called when you’re 100% available? 

Sadly, that’s not the case. 

Customers call when they need support, even if that means calling with a burning concern while you’re trying to put out a fire somewhere else in your business. 

Or calling at 11 pm when you’re out-of-office. 

And customers expect someone to always be available to hear their concerns. 

Clutch surveyed 501 people who called businesses at least three times within a six-month period. They discovered that 88% of respondents preferred speaking to a live customer agent instead of navigating a phone menu

Customers don’t like the impersonal feel of an automated response. They want to talk to a real person who will express empathy and help them resolve their issues. 

Some businesses turn to a telephone answering service to provide that live customer support 24/7.

So, let’s start by defining what a telephone answering service does.

What Really Is a Telephone Answering Service? 

A telephone answering service has two defining characteristics. First, a telephone answering service is often viewed as a call center. A customer calls, follows the prompts of an auto-attendant and then speaks with the available operator. 

Second, the people who answer the phones follow a script. They will then take a message and pass it on to the relevant person in your company. There usually is no follow-up on the part of the telephone operator to ensure the customer’s query was resolved. So, it’s not surprising that “91% of customers are frustrated when they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason.” 

On the surface, a telephone answering service may seem like a good option for your business. It’s cost-effective since you’re outsourcing instead of hiring full-time employees. You get access to a group of people who can answer your calls 24/7. None of your calls are missed, and you get the messages you need for appropriate follow-up.

But there are issues with using a telephone answering service. We alluded to two of those issues: frustrated customers and the telephone operators not being an extension of your team. 

The issues don’t stop there. Let’s explore four additional issues that will probably make you reconsider using a telephone answering service for your business. 

4 Reasons a Virtual Telephone Answering Service Isn’t Enough

You’re already stretched thin as a small business owner with few staff. There aren’t enough hands-on-deck to ensure you never miss about 62% of your calls

But carefully consider these four issues with virtual telephone answering services before making the leap to outsource your business calls to them. Here, we’re focusing on virtual telephone answering services because most of these providers are accessible virtually. 

1. Auto attendants just don’t cut it.  

Customers are usually greeted by an auto-attendant if you’re using a virtual telephone answering service. Ever heard an automated voice tell you to press one to be directed to X department or say a specific word to move to the next step? That was an auto attendant. 

Auto-attendants are meant to streamline calls so that customers are sent to the right places. They have their place if they follow one rule: keep it simple. Otherwise, customers lose their patience, and 85% of them will abandon the call.  

What sometimes happens, though, especially outside of business hours, is that the auto-attendant directs the call to voicemail. You have a 75% chance of losing a customer if your call goes to voicemail. Also, callers who don’t reach you on the first call are 85% more likely to not call back.  

The alternative? A virtual receptionist who operates as part of your team, not as an outsider. There are two ways you can set your virtual receptionist up for success: know your phone system and keep your virtual receptionist up-to-date through collaboration.

2. Personalized interactions don’t come with a quota.

Providing the best possible customer experience helps set your brand apart from competitors. According to Dimension Data’s 2017 Global Customer Experience report, “84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.”

Personalized interaction forms a big part of improving the customer experience. Personalized interaction is no longer an option, it’s an expectation. Research by Salesforce shows that 59% of customers expect tailored engagement based on past interactions.

Here’s the truth. A virtual telephone answering service doesn’t provide the tailored engagement your customers need. The bottom line for a telephone answering service is getting through as many calls as possible within the parameters of your contract.

You usually have two options with a telephone answering service contract. You’re either charged based on the number of calls you receive or how long those calls last. But it’s difficult to gauge either of those figures, even after completing a 7-day free trial with the service provider. 

The alternative? A virtual receptionist who meets the needs of your growing business at a reasonable price.

3. An out-of-hours telephone answering service can create extra work. 

Operators from a virtual telephone answering service aren’t required to track messages from the out-of-hours calls they receive. They take a message and send you either an email or notification about the call. Imagine getting hundreds of these emails or notifications. Who is there to help you keep track?

Instead of just taking a message, an out-of-hours virtual receptionist will have a conversation (using your FAQs) with the caller to rectify the situation as best as possible. She’ll escalate the case to the relevant person if the issue can’t be resolved. 

A virtual receptionist’s approach is all about helping the caller feel calm and happy that the issue is being resolved. This receptionist will personally follow up the following business day to ensure that the person responsible is aware of the issue and will also contact the caller to follow up if necessary.

4. Specialized customer service is the future of great business.

Outsourcing your customer service to an experienced provider helps improve the customer experience. As we mentioned before, great customer service is a big deal. 

Still not convinced? Research conducted by PWC reveals that “73% of customers agree that customer experience helps to drive their buying decision.” Also, the same study shows that “69% of Americans say they’ll spend more with a company that has good customer service.” 

Most customers aren’t dishing out their hard-earned money if your customer experience isn’t great. With a virtual telephone answering service, there’s no guarantee your company will consistently provide a great customer experience. That’s why you should consider specialized customer service.

But you should only work with providers who specialize in working as part of your team rather than as a separate entity. The benefits of hiring specialized customer service providers make adding them to your team a no-brainer.

Wrapping Up: You Need More Than a Virtual Telephone Answering Service

Using a virtual telephone answering service may seem like the in thing to do. But customers expect more. They want to know that when they call your office, they’ll hear a friendly voice and speak with someone who takes the time to understand their queries. The human touch is what they need.

We hope this article has helped you better understand the weaknesses of a virtual telephone answering service. A specialized virtual receptionist service makes it easier for customers to get the support they need, even when you’re busy putting out fires. 

Smiledog is a leader in sourcing customer support specialists that help businesses to thrive by booking appointments and serving as your virtual receptionist team. We handle the answering of your phone and scheduling appointments so you can focus on maximizing reach with marketing, providing quality service to your clients, and ultimately, growing your business. Connect with a Smiledog representative to learn more.

5 Predictions on the Future of Customer Service

5 Predictions on the Future of Customer Service

We owe a lot of the comforts we take for granted to the First Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. Developments in coal, the steam engine, electricity, and petroleum took off quickly. 

All of these products had customers. Customers who had to walk to factories or write letters when they had complaints

But what if the complaint wasn’t immediately resolved? What if the customer forgot a document they needed? A long walk would have been for nothing. 

And the letters? Customers had to deliver them without certainty of getting a quick reply. This customer support process was largely inefficient with no foreseeable solution because technology was still in its infancy. 

Fast forward to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we see that customer service has made giant strides. We’ve evolved from writing letters to automated and digital ways of handling customer inquiries, all thanks to progress in artificial intelligence (AI), video chat, message bots, virtual receptionist services, and many more.

But advancements in customer service technology usually come with a learning curve and incur costs. Nevertheless, they are usually worth it. 

Why? 

  • They improve the effectiveness of customer service professionals
  • They allow for better customer service delivery
  • They help customer service teams to retain clients, thereby increasing revenue. 

There’s no question that customer service technology will continue to grow and make support teams more efficient. And in this post, we’ll explore five predictions on what we believe customer service will look like in the future.

Let’s go.

5 Predictions on the Future of Customer Service

1. Omnichannel customer service will become a norm

These days, customers don’t rely on one single method to engage with brands. In fact, 67% use at least three different channels. While some of your customers are on social media checking out your services, others could be on review websites trying to decide if your services are right for them.

And these customers don’t want switches between channels to feel jarring. They want a seamless experience as they interact with your brand.

It’s no surprise, then, that a report by Adobe shows that companies providing strong omnichannel customer experiences enjoy 10% year-on-year growth and a 25% increase in close rates.

But why is omnichannel customer support so effective? 

Good question. 

Omnichannel customer service allows your business to eliminate communications silos that can harm the integrity of your brand. For instance, a customer could discuss a challenge through your website today. If they aren’t satisfied, they could communicate again, maybe via social media. Instead of making the customer repeat all they said during their web chat, an omnichannel experience helps you pull the previous customer interaction from your website, social channels, email, and more into a single view. In other words, you start conversing from where customers left off, which makes their experience smoother.

2. AI and bots will assist customer service reps, not replace them

Recent developments in machine learning-based NLP mean that AI can now understand sentiments in open texts. For instance, negative customer feedback on a review website can be turned into a support ticket automatically with AI. By responding swiftly, customer service agents could turn negative feedback into positive experiences. 

And bots? They function when humans can’t, like while the customer service team is asleep or unavoidably unavailable. They also improve self-service for customers and reduce expenses for business owners. How? By providing a repeatable and inexpensive method of addressing similar customer requests.

Advancements in AI and bots will continue. But this hasn’t come without fears among customer service professionals worried that their job will become obsolete. “Will customer service roles no longer be useful?” Of course not. They will remain useful as ever, adapt to technological changes, take on customer success roles, and help clients succeed with the product or service they sell.

3. Social media will become a standard customer service channel

Do you know that 54% of people had a more favourable view of brands that responded to customer service questions or complaints on social media? That’s huge. And since many people like getting responses on social media, customer service professionals will continue to adapt to meet this need. 

Going forward, businesses won’t rely on social media just for ads. Active social listening will take center stage, and rapid responses to customer inquiries and challenges will become the new viral ads.

The results of such publicity? Happy customers start talking, other customers start liking and commenting, and the brand gets free visibility to new prospects who spend 144 minutes daily on social media and messaging apps. Customers now live on social media, so meeting them where they spend more than two hours of their day will be the norm in the future.

4. Customer service will become increasingly personalized

Customers give a lot of their personal information to businesses. In return, they expect businesses to use their information to provide them with personalized experiences. Research by Epsilon proves this is true as 80% of customers want personalized services

Personalized service is a trend that will continue long into the future, especially as customer support tools become smarter. Advancements in these support tools will allow customer service reps to access a customer’s recent interactions and provide a personal touch when interacting with them. Personalization is markedly different during online and offline interactions. 

Online, support teams can personalize a customer’s experience by using the browsing history of customers to know and display their preferences. Offline, this could be a customer support rep who uses live voice messages to communicate with clients instead of automated messages that are impersonal. An example would be a wake-up call in hotels. 

Providing personalized services seems like a good idea. But how does it impact your bottom line? 

According to Econsultancy, 80% of companies report seeing an uplift since implementing personalization. Also, companies using advanced personalization report a $20 return for every $1 spent.

5. Customer support specialists will be in high demand

As technological advancements continue, customer support reps will start carving niches for themselves. New roles will emerge, and reps with specialized skills and knowledge will provide better support. For instance, customer support reps that are excellent in handling social media inquiries could become social media support specialists. Those who know how to take customers through a sign-up process could become onboarding specialists. 

How about those who are great with answering calls and scheduling appointments? They have their place as well. At Smiledog, we have many of these niched customer service team members who prioritize excellent customer experience above everything.

Ready for the Future of Customer Service?

The future of customer service is bright, especially for business owners who want to use technology to drive customer retention and revenue. Technological advancement and specialized customer service teams provide greater efficiency. This allows business owners to worry less about daily administrative tasks and gives them more time to focus on their customers.

Smiledog is a team of professionally-trained receptionists who are dedicated to providing your clients with a positive customer experience — even when you can’t be reached. We handle answering your phone and scheduling your appointments so you can focus on maximizing reach with marketing, provide quality service to your clients, and ultimately grow your business. 

Connect with a Smiledog representative to learn more.

Why Specialized Customer Service Is the Way of The Future

Why Specialized Customer Service Is the Way of The Future

The research doesn’t lie.

Nextiva’s customer service stats show that excellent customer service is essential for getting more clients and increasing your practice’s revenue. According to the data, businesses that provide positive customer experiences have 4-8% higher revenue than the competition. And as the customer experience grows more positive, customer retention gets an automatic boost.

The result? Profit growth of 25% to 95% when customer retention rates reach 5%. Cha-ching! Not bad, huh?

Here comes the sad part.

One-third of customers would consider switching businesses after just one instance of subpar customer service.

Bad customer experiences begin when you’re unable to hear your clients’ needs. According to Salesforce, 66% of your customers expect you to understand their unique needs and expectations. For many customers, the first step in having their needs met starts with a phone call. Sadly, many of these first calls don’t get answered and go right to voicemail.

The worst part? 

80% of callers who reach voicemail do not call back. Instead, they call your competitors. The outcome of these missed calls is a loss of up to $60,000 yearly. That’s huge.

But you can avoid such losses. 

How? 

By responding swiftly to customer inquiries with the help of specialized customer service providers.

The Demand for Specialized Customer Service Providers

If you’ve been differentiating your business from others based on price, you’re doing it wrong. According to PWC, customers are willing to pay a 16% price premium on products and services, provided they can have an excellent customer experience.

So why do customers prioritize quality customer experience instead of the product or service they want? Competition. 

Over the years, entrepreneurs created many businesses. For instance, the U.S had 27.9 million small businesses in 2010. Fast forward to 2021, this number has risen to 31.7 million

As more businesses spring up, customer options expand. 

The result? Your customers’ expectation is now higher because they know your competitor is around the corner. Today, 73% of consumers say that customer experience helps to drive their purchase decisions. This means you can’t afford to play catch up when it comes to providing services that delight your clients. 

Your customers want quick, friendly, consistent, and convenient customer service. And frankly, they don’t care if you have a million clients to attend to. They want you to answer their call and treat them as a priority, EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

But do you have the time to answer every client’s call? The answer is “No.”

That’s why you may need specialized customer service providers to help you take calls, book appointments, fill and maintain your pipeline with a consistent inflow of prospects and customers.

Benefits of Specialized Customer Services

Specialized customer services provide a ton of benefits to your business. Let’s explore a few.

1. Increased employee productivity

Call volume can skyrocket to unmanageable proportions quickly. So what do you do when that happens? Assign an employee to take the calls? Wrong

Doing that will negatively impact the employee’s productivity and hinder their ability to perform their core functions effectively. In fact, the American Psychological Association says, “Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.” Shuttling between client calls and regular job responsibilities isn’t the best for your employees or your business. 

If you want to retain optimal employee productivity, consider outsourcing your appointment scheduling to virtual receptionists. Why? You’ll be helping your employees to focus on their job, do what they love, and increase your revenue.

In other words, you’ll have happier employees. Happier employees are more productive, and research proves it.

Why employees feel burned out

A study conducted by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School tracked several workers in British telecoms BT’s contact centers over a series of weeks. What did they find? The happy workers were 13% more productive.
Many factors like unclear and constantly changing expectations or priorities can reduce employee morale and make them unhappy.

That isn’t good for any business. And when you saddle an unhappy employee with taking customer calls (as an extra responsibility), their unhappy vibes could trickle down to your customers. This prevents the customer from getting the best attention to their needs.

Specialized customer service providers ensure your employee morale is always high. How? By becoming your virtual customer service team and treating customer inquiries immediately and with a smile. The plus? You’ll increase your capacity to book new appointments without the need for additional staff and costs.

2. Improved customer interactions

Every interaction with a customer is a chance to build trust, and once you establish trust, the customer is likely to stay engaged. But you can’t develop trust with your clients if you keep missing their calls. In fact, you could lose their trust when you keep sending their calls to voicemail. What if they have an emergency? Voicemails can’t help. Specialized customer service providers like Smiledog help businesses to immediately engage their customers. But don’t take our word for it. Hear it from Integrative Health Institute:

The good news is, you can get specialized customer services for your business at a fraction of what it would cost to hire an in-house receptionist.

How?

  • Save on overhead: Specialized customer services allow you to pay as you go. You only pay for what you use.
  • Eliminate recruitment cost and time: How long did it take you to find your last employee? A week, two, a month, three months? That’s a lot of time, plus the new hire may not be a fit for your business. Using specialized customer services gets you pre-screened additions to your team. And if the person doesn’t work out, you will have access to a replacement with no downtime or additional training required.
  • Minimal training: Want to skip the hassle of time-consuming and expensive onboarding? Specialized customer service providers help with that. For instance, Smiledog trains its team extensively so that they can step into your organization and begin doing the hard work of managing your customers.
  • Minimize opportunity cost: The cost of missing a call amounts to thousands of dollars. A specialised customer service agent prevents that.
  • Increased productivity: Time is money. Having a specialized customer service agent in your team means you have more time to focus on what moves the needle for your business — customer acquisition. 

3. Customer retention

Did you know that acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing customer? SO convincing a new customer to do business with you is more expensive than trying to convert existing ones. Without someone who is trained and ready to take calls and set up appointments in your absence, your customer pipeline will bleed out new leads. 

Using specialized customer services doesn’t only get the customers in the door; it also helps you retain them. How? By making the specialized customer service provider a virtual arm of your business. This allows the customer service team to build on previous customer relationships and improve customer loyalty.

Like Jeff Bezos said;

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.

Once the customer is delighted by your service, they’ll stay with you for much longer. 
And that’s what your business should strive for — loyal customers.

One-off client relationships aren’t sustainable. Loyal customers are the basis of non-stop repeat business. And how do you get loyal customers? It begins with the first phone call.

Wrapping Up

Overwhelming research shows that you need to take your customer experience seriously, and specialized customer service is the future. The good news is that you don’t need to spend money or waste time hiring more employees. Hiring virtual specialized customer service providers helps you cut costs, keep your customers happy, and allow your business to thrive. 

Doing this will improve your employees’ productivity, increase customer interactions, and positively impact your customer retention rates. 

Like to find out more about Smiledog’s specialized customer services? Schedule a free consultation with us today.

How Voicemail Is Slowly Killing Your Business

How Voicemail Is Slowly Killing Your Business

The life of a small business owner can be hectic. 

When you’re doing everything from daily administrative tasks to providing quality customer service, sometimes the phone is left to ring, and incoming customer calls are missed. 

But one or two missed calls won’t hurt, right? 

Wrong! 

Unfortunately, 80% of callers that don’t get through on the first call will hang up and call the competition. 

That’s right — a missed call is a missed opportunity.

On top of that, your advertising budget is going to waste, because it’s directing potential customers to a business that doesn’t have time for them. 

So, what do you do? 

You decide to invest in an automated voice answering system to direct customers to voicemail whenever you’re unable to answer their call. 

While voicemail might be better than missing the call completely, the potential revenue loss isn’t the only negative impact that relying on voicemail can have on your business. 

The Disadvantages of Voicemail

Most customers prefer human interaction and the feeling that employees care about them when they’re calling a business. 

A first-time customer reaching voicemail on their very first call can leave a long-lasting, damaging first impression. And the disadvantages of voicemail go both ways — for your customers and your business. 

Reaching voicemail is impersonal

When a customer reaches your voicemail instead of being greeted by a real person, it’s like the business is telling them “We don’t have time for you.” Reaching voicemail also gives the caller a feeling of uncertainty over whether their call will get returned. This not only robs the customer of their time but their patience, too. 

Checking voicemails is inefficient

Voicemail creates another problem — it creates more work for you. 

When you get voicemail, you’re still required to check it, listen carefully to it, transcribe every message, and return every call. Then, you have to delete the messages to ensure there’s enough room left on your answering machine for future callers. 

What if you need clarification on the message that was left? Then, there’s the almost inevitable back-and-forth with the caller as you’re trying to connect with each other just to talk. 

Leaving a voicemail is time-consuming

Forcing a customer to leave a voicemail can eat up valuable time. What if the potential customer is calling about something urgent? Unfortunately, automated answering systems can’t detect urgency. 

This scenario can lead to revenue loss and a frustrated customer, which can be detrimental to the business’s reputation. (That person will likely tell the people they know that they couldn’t reach you.) 

The Importance of Human Connection

Efficient customer service is necessary for the satisfaction of your customers and the success of your business. And the easiest way to build rapport with your current and potential customers is by investing in your customers’ experience. 

Connecting with customers on a personal level will increase the chances of them coming back and even telling their friends about your business. That’s the power of human connection

According to Salesforce, 89% of customers will make another purchase after a positive experience. And a one-on-one interaction can be that game-changer — it allows you to quickly resolve any issues your customers may have and answer their questions on the spot. 

The human aspect of customer service can transform every customer’s experience into a memorable one. Therefore, it should be your business’s top priority. 

What kind of alternative solution can help boost the customer experience for your business? 

Virtual reception.

Creating A Positive Customer Experience With Virtual Reception

Virtual reception is what it sounds like — a service where your customer calls are answered by remote, friendly, highly trained receptionists from a third-party company that will ensure your customers’ needs are met in a timely manner. 

Smiledog Virtual Reception offers a team of trained professionals that take messages, schedule appointments and answer your customers’ questions.

This is an affordable, personalized, and efficient solution that can take your customer service to the next level. When customers have good experiences with businesses, they tell their friends — and sometimes, the rest of the world. 

Wrapping Up

In the digital era, timely, personalized, and efficient customer service is more important than ever for the success of your business. While it may seem like an easy solution, investing in an automated voicemail system isn’t foolproof. It can cause more problems — and even permanently damage your reputation.  

In addition, voicemail is an impersonal, inefficient, and often time-consuming “solution” to connecting with your customers. 

Smiledog’s Virtual Reception call answering services guarantee that no call goes unanswered. 

With virtual reception, you will: 

  • Avoid revenue loss due to missed opportunities
  • Improve your customer service and boost your business’s reputation
  • Gain the ability to focus more time on your top priority — providing exceptional customer service and growing your business

Your customers are everything to your business. Without them, there is no business. So, to retain your customers and earn their loyalty, sprinkle a little of that secret ingredient we’ve been talking about; human connection. It’ll make a world of a difference.

We also wanted to share that Smiledog has been recognized as one of the Top Virtual Receptionist Companies by DesignRush!

4 Tips For Setting Yourself Up For Success With Virtual Appointment Setting

4 Tips For Setting Yourself Up For Success With Virtual Appointment Setting

According to Zendesk, more than 50% of customers across all age groups typically use the phone to reach out to a service team, making it the most-used channel for customer service.

The phone is still a crucial part of any business, and especially for healthcare professionals. After a long and uncertain year and a half of living with COVID, patients are more hesitant than ever about visiting a healthcare facility. They want assurance it is safe for them to come in for treatment. An effective way to do this is with a welcoming, friendly voice on the phone to greet them. 

Your receptionist has always been essential, and they are even more essential right now because they are the first connection between you and your patients. 

While we’ve begun to come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring front desk staff has never been more difficult. At Smiledog, the general sentiment from our clients right now is that the hiring pool seems to be quiet — quieter than it has ever been.

The investment and time commitment needed to get a new team member up to speed comes at a high cost and is especially challenging when practice owners are fully focused on getting their clinics back up to full capacity. There isn’t time to spend 3-6 months onboarding a new receptionist when they could jump ship at any moment. 

This is where virtual appointment setting could be a great option. However, before you decide if this is the solution for you, ask yourself: Is my practice optimized for a virtual appointment setting service?

Let’s dive into the 4 tips for setting yourself up for success with a virtual receptionist and having them book your appointments.

1. Know your phone system

The most important factor to consider here is that you want to have full control over your call forwarding.

The process should be quick and easy. You will either manually enter the call forwarding codes on your physical phone in the clinic or program them via your online account with your phone carrier. 

Getting all the details of your call forwarding options is actually the first step in getting you closer to using a virtual receptionist.

What is call forwarding and how can you use it?

Call forwarding is simply redirecting your main clinic number to a different external number to be answered. 

  • Full Call Forwarding: This forwarding feature redirects all incoming calls to another number.
  • No Answer Transfer: This forwarding feature redirects incoming calls after a set number of rings on your side first. We recommend a maximum of 2-3 rings on your side before transferring over to a virtual receptionist. Keep in mind that 3 rings on your end and 3 rings on our end is actually 6 rings for the patient. So you need to determine what is best for your practice.
  • Busy Call Forwarding: This forwarding feature ensures calls do not get sent to voicemail. If your clinic line is already busy and another call comes in, then it will transfer that call to the virtual receptionist instead of pushing it to your voicemail.

The call forwarding you should use is really dependent on your needs. One option isn’t better than the other and in most cases, it is actually the combination of all types that work best. For example, full call forwarding is best when you know you can’t take any calls. No answer transfer is best when your in-house staff can get to most calls, but they need the reassurance that another person will help if a distraction comes up. And busy call forwarding is ideal because it can help you increase your call capacity without having calls go to voicemail.

2. Simplify your booking procedures

It is obviously not the receptionist’s job to know each practitioner’s specialty at the same level as the practitioner. The receptionist’s job is to connect the patient with the practitioner as quickly as possible by either booking in or taking a message.

A patient in pain wants to get booked in as quickly and as seamlessly as possible. So for your patients’ sake, you want to make the booking process fast and easy. 

We have learned over our 15 years of helping practices improve their phone service that the organization of your information is crucial. It needs to be organized and processed in a way that both the receptionist and patient can understand. This will make the booking process much easier to navigate for your virtual team and your patients when they call in. It allows your receptionist to develop more confidence, which will ultimately lead to more bookings. 

Here’s the most important information to keep handy for your receptionist:

  • General Practice info. You’ll want to organize the following:
    • Address
    • Main phone numbers
    • Main contact email
    • Scheduling software login
    • Payment methods
    • All relevant general practice information
  • Practitioner Profiles. Each practitioner should have a set of instructions for how they want their individual calls handled. (Example: Try to book patients first or take a message if it is a non-booking call.)
    • Provide the practitioner’s contact info
    • Provide the practitioner’s modality and/or position at the clinic
  • How-To’s. These are the most important instructions where clarity is crucial. The main thing to consider here is simplicity. If you are mapping your booking rules and notice that the instructions for a particular style of booking have too many if then/only when caveats, then it is best to separate those out and create more than one how-to. Examples include:
    • How to book a new patient
    • How to book an existing patient
    • How to book a free consult
    • How to book a same-day appointment request
    • How to handle inappropriate/banned patients
    • How to handle a waitlist appointment
    • How to handle mobile treatment requests
  • Info instructions. This information is a way to categorize unique information within your practice. You will want to divide this info into a simple format to ensure it is quickly accessible.
    • INFO: Cancellation Policy
    • INFO: Insurance details
    • INFO: Location & Directions
    • INFO: Services & Pricing
    • INFO: Service types by practitioner (who does what)
  • COVID screening rules. You will need to have a specific set of screening rules/questions to ensure the patient qualifies for an appointment.

3. Implement web-based booking software

It is crucial for your practice to have a web-based booking system that allows you to create an administrative profile for your virtual receptionist

You ensure security with this system by protecting your login, and you can track the number of appointments booked by your administrative profile. This will help you measure the success of your virtual team. 

JaneApp in particular has a wonderful option for this that is free within your account. Other platforms like Cliniko, Acuity, and Mindbody are also great options that a virtual receptionist can use and integrate easily.

Web-based booking software also allows you to create online booking options via your website, and it’s a great tool to increase your bookings without any additional cost.

4. Keep your virtual team up-to-date through collaboration

The main goal of a virtual receptionist is to help balance the workload. They will help you deliver customer service over the phone and help book appointments while you’re in appointments. 

Worrying about each and every word of every phone call will ultimately result in an unsuccessful relationship. This is why Smiledog does absolutely no call scripting. Instead, our focus is on simplifying your appointment booking process. This allows your virtual team to deliver better customer service because they can more easily engage in organic conversations with your patients instead of sounding like call center employees.

Updates and changes are expected, and we understand that they are part of a growing clinic. So communicative collaboration is essential to ensuring your virtual team is always up-to-date. The best way to ensure collaboration is by consistently letting your team know what is going on. For small, minor updates, email is usually the preferred method of communication; for larger protocol changes, we recommend scheduling a meeting with an account lead to ensure those changes are understood and properly implemented. 

What constitutes a minor vs. major update?

Minor updates are: 

  • Vacation notices
  • Email or phone number changes for a practitioner
  • New or adjusted clinic hours

Major updates are:

  • New service offering(s) being implemented
  • New practitioner coming to the team
  • New location added

During the virtual receptionist onboarding process, a crucial factor is strategizing your account structure. It will serve as the foundation on which your virtual receptionist will handle your calls, and it will prevent the need for micromanagement.

Ensuring there are simple and structured booking rules in place upfront is key to having a successful virtual receptionist. Once the concept of how to book your appointments is understood, making smaller or larger changes as your clinic evolves will have much less of an impact on your virtual team’s service delivery.

Wrapping up

Specific actions like simplifying your booking rules, implementing web-based booking software, collaborating with your virtual receptionist, and studying your phone system setup are great ways to ensure a smooth handoff to your virtual team. 

Implementing a virtual receptionist for your practice is actually very easy to do if the upfront preparation is handled properly. With our 15 years of experience, we are confident that the tips listed above are a great start to get your practice ready for virtual appointment setting. 

Still wondering if virtual reception is right for your practice? Here are 3 benefits to consider when thinking about virtual reception: 

  1. More consistent customer service.
  2. More appointment booking opportunities.
  3. More time back in your day to focus on growing your clinic.

Creating a seamless and simple transition from patient call to appointment booked will result in much stronger customer satisfaction and a more successful relationship with your virtual team. The more simplified your processes are, the easier it will be to scale your practice.

If you’d like to find out more about virtual appointment setting, schedule a consultation with us here.