When your small business is growing, it can take every bit of your time and effort just to ensure that the most critical jobs get completed on a daily basis.
At the same time, the last thing you want is to let new customers slip away, or neglect important phone calls from your existing customers. That’s why, as small business owners, we are lucky to have the access to virtual secretaries these days. They are sometimes the best way to ensure that we maintain our high standards of customer service and professionalism while we are getting things done.
Having a virtual secretary can benefit you in your daily business efforts in a number of ways. Keeping track of your appointments by setting your calendar and organizing your business documents are a couple of examples. And by routing your incoming calls to them, they can keep you from getting distracted from doing what you do best: Running your business.
Advantages of forwarding your incoming calls
Customers talk to a live person
This is an infinitely better outcome than if they were to hit the dead end of voicemail. For starters, they often will not even bother leaving a message. They might even decide to give one of your competitors a try and see if anyone is answering over there.
It can also be frustrating for your customers, especially when a matter is urgent, to just leave a voicemail and wait. There is no timeframe for when to expect a callback. There’s nothing to do but grow more agitated. So when you do return the call, who knows what kind of state you’re going to find them in.
However, when your customers reach a real live person, they actually have a chance to get some kind of information. If you’ve prepared your personal virtual assistant with the basics, they can give your customer a timeframe for when a response should be expected. Even better, your VA might have the answer to the question that is being asked, so that a return phone call is not even necessary.
By speaking to your virtual administrative assistant, your customers can also express if a situation is urgent, and that it might require immediate attention. When your VA informs you about the situation, they can give you important details that allow you to call back with an intelligent response and prepared to extinguish any fires.
Make your small business appear bigger
Having your phone calls answered by your virtual executive assistant gives the impression that you run a professional organization. Even if you are just selling T-shirts out of your basement, people still prefer to spend their money with someone they feel is reputable. Having a virtual secretary answer phone calls allows your business to seem bigger in a way that builds credibility in the minds of those calling.
Your VA can screen out the time-wasters
Depending on your situation, you may have your VA’s simply act as message takers. By taking down information and emailing it to you, your VA’s can act as effective call screeners.
The sad truth is, as a business owner you are rolling the dice when you answer a call from an unknown number. Is this going to be a legitimate customer, or some crank eating up valuable time out of your day with nonsense? Sometimes it can be difficult to disengage from these people without being curt. Instead, it is far better to never engage with them in the first place. You need to focus your efforts and energies on ensuring that your real customers are receiving the excellent level of service that they deserve.
Forwarding your incoming calls
Routing incoming calls to your VA’s can be something as simple as setting up call forwarding to their numbers from your business cell phone. iPhones, Android devices, and most anything else in between, will allow you to do this. Of course, the method varies from phone to phone, but if you prowl around in your settings, you can generally locate the option. If you’re still not certain, do a Google or YouTube search for call forwarding on your particular model of phone and you will get pointed in the direction of a tutorial.
Another option to consider in forwarding calls through your Skype account. This process is also pretty straightforward:
- Log in to your Skype
- In the Manage Features section select Call Forwarding
- Select the “Enable” button and choose how many seconds until the call forwards
- You can choose whether you want to forward to either the phone number or Skype account of your virtual assistant
- Hit confirm
Forwarding calls through Skype-like this is free. The only stipulation is that the account you are forwarding to must be listed among your contacts. Skype allows you to choose 3 mobile numbers or 3 landline numbers worldwide for call forwarding.
There are also options with Google Voice that you might look into, which will allow you to route incoming calls to your VA’s. If you do not have a free Gmail account, you will need to sign up for one first to use Google Voice. The website is https://www.google.com/voice, or just perform a search for Google Voice.
The steps for the setup process are not difficult at all. You will need an active phone number, either landline or cell, to start off with. Google will call this number for verification purposes and give you an activation code. Once you’ve entered the code you can choose your Google Voice phone number from a list of whatever Google has available.
Google Voice has a wide range of functions for handling calls. There is one very basic way (below) that you can use to send calls to your VA by using Google Voice. However, there may be many different methods that better suit your needs once you become more familiar with its features.
You will need to add your VA’s phone number to your account (Google allows you to have as many as six numbers). You can then specify which numbers you want to ring when someone calls your Google Voice number. When you want calls to be answered by your VA, you can only have your VA’s number activated. If you always want calls to your Google Voice number answered by your VA, then obviously you just set it and forget it.