As a small business owner, you want to be as hands-on in your business as possible – especially when you’re operating on a shoestring budget.
Answering phone calls, for example, is one of those tasks that many small business owners want to handle themselves instead of delegating to a receptionist.
However, if you’re answering phone calls yourself, you risk being pulled in too many directions and getting bombarded with interruptions – not to mention that you can’t possibly answer every single call.
You might be thinking: “After my business hits a growth spurt and earns more customers, I’ll get a new team member to handle phone calls.”
Picture this: The receptionist is sick and you’re facing double the workload. Can you afford to become the office pinch-hitter and answer every call instead of tackling what you actually need to do?
In addition, in-house receptionists are typically available during office working hours and that can be a major problem when it comes to ensuring customers are satisfied.
As many customers can’t contact you until they are off work, after-hours and weekend customer service is imperative to ensure a frictionless customer experience.
With that in mind, let’s explore the far-reaching benefits of extended customer service for your small business.
Table of contents:
- 8 underrated benefits of after-hours customer service for small businesses
- What is the most affordable way to provide after-hours customer service?
1. 8 Underrated Benefits of After-Hours Customer Service for Small Businesses
Even if you’re running a small business or an early startup with few customers, you need to be available round-the-clock to answer FAQs and handle queries.
Providing after-hours call answering services is crucial for customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction doesn’t just impact your business’s bottom line, it also impacts employee morale and retention rate.
`Here is how your small business can benefit from after-hours customer service:
- Enhance your business reputation
Business reputation and customer service go hand in hand and are tightly interwoven. As you may know, consumers often complain online about businesses neglecting their inquiries and failing to live up to their expectations.
Hate to break it to you, but people don’t care if you are short on staff or if no one is available after 5 p.m. To avoid negative feedback on customer service and protect your reputation, you need to provide 24/7 support and keep your customers satisfied.
- Get peace of mind
After-hours calls help you ensure that your customers receive support even when you’re not available or your in-house staff has gone home.
In addition, after-hours calls are a great way to reduce burnout. If you provide 24/7 coverage, you and your team do not need to follow up with customers who reached out while you were away, making it easier to improve daily workflow and efficiency.
- Generate more qualified leads
As I hope you would agree, effective communication with customers is key to capturing more leads and turning them into paying customers.
Consider integrating your 24/7 customer service into your lead generation channels to ensure your business attracts more customers.
For example, you can add a “Get in Touch” button to your landing pages and allow prospects and customers to quickly get answers to their queries.
- Increase sales revenue
Satisfied customers are more likely to spend money with your business.
For example, customers who are treated well are more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth about your business and stick around, which often translates into higher sales and increased revenue.
In addition, you can use your 24/7 customer service for upselling and cross-selling, which also helps you boost sales and, ultimately, increase revenue.
- Geographic flexibility
After-hours customer service is particularly beneficial for businesses that target foreign audiences.
If you operate across different geographic ranges, it is important that you facilitate communication with customers across time zones.
Regardless of the day or the time, 24/7 coverage enables you to fulfil customer expectations and seamlessly communicate with customers who aren’t in the same geographic location as you.
- Increase customer loyalty
Outstanding, timely customer service is one of the most effective customer retention strategies for any business.
According to a HubSpot research, 93% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases with businesses that offer excellent customer service.
That’s why providing after-hours call services is a great opportunity to encourage existing customers to remain loyal and build long-lasting relationships with them.
- Add a human touch to the customer experience
In an increasingly digital world, the human factor is still important for customer support.
According to PR Newswire, 90% of consumers want to talk to a human instead of using phone menus.
While some businesses use chatbots to provide 24/7 customer support, using a real agent to ensure round-the-clock customer service can go a long way towards creating happy and loyal customers.
- Increase customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a measure that determines how happy customers are with the products, services, and experiences you deliver.
For your customer satisfaction to be rated as excellent, you need to provide frictionless, timely, 24/7 customer service.
In a cut-throat market where competition is fierce, customer satisfaction is an important indicator of purchase intentions that can mean the difference between keeping your customers loyal or losing them to competitors.
2. What Is the Most Affordable Way to Provide After-Hours Customer Service?
Now that you are clear about the benefits of providing after-hours support, let’s talk about the best strategies for differentiating your business from your competitors who are still delivering customer service within a limited time window.
Although the modern world functions 24/7, many small businesses remain resistant to providing round-the-clock support as they believe it would cost them a fortune.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are many cost-effective ways to roll out 24/7 customer support. For example, you could provide an AI chatbot, mobile support, create pre-recorded tutorials, or use an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system.
However, giving your customers the opportunity to speak to a real agent and making their experience personal is the best way to spark meaningful relationships and make them stick around.
That’s why the most effective and affordable way to provide after-hours calls service for your customers is getting a 24/7 virtual receptionist.
In a world where customers expect round-the-clock service and easy communication, a virtual receptionist is a highly versatile service that enables you to deliver an outstanding customer experience without finding, hiring, and training an in-house team member.
When your customers receive prompt support from a real agent instead of a robot, they end up feeling satisfied with their experience with your business.
What is more beautiful about virtual receptionists is that you can either get them as a separate service or include them in a professional virtual office to fuel your business growth.
With a virtual office, you’ll enjoy many of the advantages of a professional business address without the need to rent a place, furnish your office, pay bills, or hire a receptionist.
To learn more about virtual offices and the benefits they include (outside of a 24/7 professional receptionist), please check out this post.
Conclusion: Long story short, there are many reasons why you should consider providing customer support not only during office working hours but also after you close down for the day.
Every time you miss a call, your business reputation takes a hit, and you risk missing out on potential sales and growth opportunities.
Customers are the lifeline of your business, and it is important to deliver the right care, at the right place and at the right time.
Are you ready to drive powerful business growth and get more time back into your day? Then get a professional virtual receptionist today and start delivering hyper-personalised, timely, innovative, round-the-clock customer service!