How your unanswered telephone translates to an overflowing inbox and what to do about it.
It was not much more than a decade ago that e-mail was just coming on the scene and, “You’ve got mail,” was music to your ears. How times have changed. Now the very thought of sifting through your inbox is enough to provoke anxiety in even the most well-tempered business professional.
If you were in business a decade ago, you may recall another change that started sweeping across the business world about that time: the demise of the telephone Receptionist. With the advent of email, the phone was ringing less often, and with voicemail becoming ubiquitous it was easy to tell clients and customers to just, “email it to me or leave me a voice message.”
Now you’re drowning in messages, both email and voice, and it’s possible that your laid off Receptionist may be having the last laugh. How can this be? The answer comes down to dealing with issues as they arrive versus postponing them to a later date. In effect, that is all you are doing with email and voicemail messaging. Not that the Receptionist was solving all your crises for you, but this person was an expert at directing the flow of communications traffic in your business.
What you sacrifice with email and voicemail messaging is having a live, intelligent human being to triage your workflow and help you sort the urgent, but unimportant, from those tasks that truly move you in the direction of your objectives. A person to help you determine what can be dealt with more efficiently in real-time and what is better postponed for a later date.
Take, for example, the case of the client who has a quick question on the status of their business with you. A question you could answer in under a minute, let’s say. In the old world, this client may have called your business, spoken with your Receptionist who, in-turn, got you on the line to announce the call. Knowing this was an easy answer, you took the call and put the issue to bed in under a minute.
In today’s world, however, this same client may have left you a voice message or sent you an email. Not only is the client now stuck waiting for a response, but you have to take the additional time to retrieve the message, compose a reply or return a call. Depending on the nature of your client, simply listening to the voice message or reading the email might actually take longer than just answering the question on the spot! You have effectively doubled, tripled, or worse, the amount of time needed to deal with this issue.
This is just one of many scenarios where a live telephone Receptionist can be a big time-saver for you and a welcome improvement in service to your clients and customers. If you are in a business where you deal with many frequently asked questions, require appointment scheduling or desire certain types of calls screened out altogether, a live Receptionist can add even more value to your business.
So how can you get out from under the current deluge of email and voicemail messages? There is a great new solution that allows you to enjoy many of the benefits of the live telephone receptionist without the need to hire an employee. Recent advances in telephone and Internet technology allow an off-site or virtual Receptionist working from a remote location to perform many of these vital tasks.
If your issue is sorting through voicemails, consider forwarding your telephone to an off-site Receptionist who you can train to determine which calls should be connected to you in real-time, and which calls should be summarized in a concise message and transmitted to you via email or stored in a web call log.
If you’re drowning in emails and don’t have the time to sift through and find the ones that require immediate attention, consider configuring an auto-reply on your inbox informing your clients that you only check email on a set schedule, but if they need immediate assistance they can call your Receptionist who knows your availability. Imagine the relief you will feel not worrying that some urgent issue is buried in your inbox among the myriad newsletters and questionable promotional offers.
If you haven’t explored how a modern-day off-site Receptionist can streamline your workflow, improve customer service and enhance your professional image, you need to take a closer look. Somewhere out there a former employee may be chuckling every time your inbox chimes.