Small and medium sized businesses in the UK lose around 5.6% of business time a year on admin tasks.
The UK has a notorious productivity problem, especially compared to other developed economies, ranking 31 out of 35 OECD countries for growth output per hour between 2008 and 2017.
Whether it’s skills gaps in some sectors, lack of investment or just the fact that employees are too easily distracted from what they’re meant to be doing, productivity is not a strong point in the UK economy.
Improving productivity for the long-term is a major business challenge.
One easy way to make employees more productive is to reduce the amount of distractions and tasks that take them away from their main focus.
Telephone answering is one of the simplest, and often most overlooked tasks that regularly pull employees away from what they’re meant to be doing.
When someone calls your business, you need it to be answered professionally.
Any call could be a potential customer looking to spend money with you.
And given that research by BT Business predicts businesses lose roughly £1,200 in sales from any missed call, it’s something you need to invest in.
But are you or your employees the best person to do that when you should be focussing on tasks that add value to the business?
How productive can you be when you’re constantly picking up the phone and dealing with cold sales calls trying to sell you a service?
Even dealing with repetitive customer enquiries can take up a lot of time and isn’t the most productive way to deal with those types of frequently asked questions.
The best answer is to invest in a dedicated telephone answering service.
This way you have your business calls answered and screened by a professional call handler who is working as an extension of your business – rather than an anonymous voice in a call centre.
And you don’t have the big costs or admin headaches that come with hiring staff.
But how exactly can a telephone answering service make you and your business more productive?
Let’s find out.
Give you more time to work
Dealing with a phone call isn’t a quick task.
Anyone calling your business needs to be dealt with professionally, in a way that makes them feel valued.
If you’re busy and try to get a caller off the line as quick as you can, you risk losing them as a customer and could also take a hit to your reputation.
Freeing your time up by investing in telephone answering will give you more time in the day to get on with higher value tasks, leaving only the most urgent calls for you to deal with immediately.
It’s not just the immediate loss of time that comes with taking a phone call in the middle of a task.
There’s the additional time it takes to then pick up what you were doing before the phone rang.
And having your concentration broken constantly can quickly add up to a significant amount of time lost in the week.
On average it takes an employee 23 minutes to get back into the flow of a task once they’ve been distracted.
If an employee only answers the phone three times, they’ve lost nearly an hour and a half a day.
Over the space of an entire week that’s nearly a full working day lost.
With a telephone answering service, your employees will only ever be expected to deal with calls immediately when they’re urgent.
This will free them up to concentrate on their work more.
Give you more time to plan
You can get more done when you’re able to follow a schedule.
That’s because mentally you can block your time out for concentration, with built in breaks between tasks.
This way the time you’ve scheduled for working, can actually be spent working and concentrating.
But when your planned day is constantly being broken by unplanned calls, you’ll find it much harder to stay productive and you can easily lose control of your schedule.
By using a call answering service, you’ll know all your calls are being handled professionally, but you can also screen calls that you don’t want to handle immediately.
You’ll still get your messages and all the relevant information.
And your customers will be reassured because they’ve spoken to an actual person.
But you’ll also be able to schedule a return call into your day, rather than scrambling to deal with every call immediately.
Reduce the amount of common enquiries you have to deal with
Every business has a series of frequently asked questions that most customers or leads have.
They’re not complicated questions.
But they come in high volume – because everyone asks – so can take a significant amount of time to deal with for relatively low value for the business.
A telephone answering service can deal with these calls for you.
Unlike call centres which simply take and pass messages between callers and you, a telephone answering service works as an extension of your company and can be relied on to deal with simple enquiries directly.
You’ll work with your PAs to identify the questions and responses you want to give, and after that you won’t have to worry about dealing with them.
Divert sales calls
If you’ve ever owned a business or worked in an office you’ll know the hassle that comes from dealing with unsolicited third party sales calls.
They can be a serious drain on your day.
Especially when the caller is offering a service that isn’t relevant to your business.
A telephone answering service can help with this in two ways.
First, they can handle and screen sales calls for you so they never get to you in the first place.
Second, your call answering team can ask to have you removed from these sales lists so you don’t have to deal with the suppliers again in the future.
Free up resources
If you’ve got employees you want them spending as much time as possible on the jobs you’ve hired them to do.
The more time they spend dealing with other tasks, the less productive they are for your business.
By taking call answering off your team, you don’t have to worry about them spending time away from their jobs.
It’s not just a personnel issue though.
You also free up the financial resources you might have spent hiring a full time receptionist on better investments.
This could be more technology to improve productivity even further by removing repetitive admin tasks with automation.
Or it could be hiring another sales person to help grow your business even more.
Be more productive by investing in call answering
With all the technology available to businesses it can be easy to overlook how investing in better call handling can improve productivity.
But the reality is, improving your call handling by investing in a dedicated answering service that only charges for the volume or time spent on calls, can drastically improve the productivity within your business.
You can not only free up time and remove unwanted distractions, but also free up staff and financial resources to greatly increase the output and productivity of your company.