Historically, businesses followed a very traditional model that included hiring a receptionist or team of them to answer calls and handle other communications and administrative duties. The modern business model hasn’t changed much, with the exception of staffing. Many businesses today take advantage of technology and outsourced solutions to handle the tasks formerly done by in-house employees.
That includes using an answering service to field phone calls and handle other customer or prospective customer needs. Of course, answering services can do much more today than just taking care of calls when you’re busy and delivering messages accordingly. A reputable company should be able to create a custom solution for all of your communications and administrative needs.
Graphic design is your main focus. You can’t dedicate time to clients and designs when you’re constantly being interrupted by the phone. And what about those clients with the last-minute questions coming in after hours? Are they getting in touch with someone about their designs or needs? You are a designer, so it makes sense to design a solution that works to fit your firm. That starts with hiring the right answering service to help along the way.
So, how do you find a reputable company? Here’s what you should be looking for.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you choose an answering service that trains its agents to deliver a level of professionalism that suits the needs of your graphic design firm. They don’t necessarily have to know industry jargon or how to answer people’s design-specific questions, but they should have the professional demeanor to address and direct these issues back to you, the designer.
This answering service is a reflection of your business. It must be everything that you want to present to the world, and it should be able to function as an extension of your design firm, not as a separate entity. This comes with the right training and professional experience. This is also where you’ll want to check out reviews and testimonials to see what other people have to say about the answering service. That can help you gain valuable firsthand experience to make a better decision.
24/7 availability is more important in today’s world than people think. As mentioned at the beginning, who’s there for the after-hours calls and weekend worries? Do you have someone to answer the phone even when you’re busy, in meetings, or on holidays? Graphic design might not seem like a business that needs this kind of availability, but the fact of the matter is that we live in a world where people are given instant access and gratification in droves, day in and day out. If your firm doesn’t have that accessibility, they’ll find one that does.
Only you can determine what features and services you want or expect to find with an answering service. However, it would be best if you took the time to see all that they offer (or don’t, in some cases). You can get a lot more than someone to answer the phone. These companies can assist with admin tasks like scheduling and payment collection, outreach and sales, and so much more. Take a look and see what you can find from the providers out there today.
If you’re unsure about which features you want, do a little research and then start narrowing down your list. Sometimes, it’s hard to decide what you need when you’re not sure what’s out there. The good news is that answering services today offer a comprehensive array of solutions for all types of businesses.
If you’re doing well in your graphic design business, it’s going to grow. When it does, you’ll be best-suited to have outsourced partners and services that can grow with you. Choose an answering service that will scale with your design firm over the years to deliver the exact solutions that you need. And, if you decide you need to scale back, they should be able to do that, too.
And speaking of exact, see how much customization they offer in their solutions. Can you only pick from a few packages, or do they have totally custom plans to ensure that your answering service is everything it should be? Modern answering service providers usually offer some form of customization, if not fully customized, plans that fit the needs of each business.
No one likes to have to request a quote or be given a vague idea of what services will cost when they’re trying to choose what’s best for their budget. Gone are the days when people will go the extra mile to call and get pricing—if you don’t have it, your competition does, and they’ll go to them. The same goes for you and your choice of an answering service. Make sure that even if it’s just starting prices or a list of rates, that they offer some type of insight as to what you might pay for their services.
Consider the added costs (if any) related to customization and scaling, as well, because you may have to scale up your budget to scale up your answering service solutions. Fortunately, with the best providers, it won’t be exorbitantly expensive, giving you a cost-effective solution.
At Smith.ai, we understand that you’re an artist, not a receptionist. You’ve got a lot on your plate creating designs, managing projects, sourcing new business—the list goes on. The last thing you need is one more item on your to-do list. When you partner with Smith.ai, you’ll get a team of virtual receptionists for 24/7 answering service solutions.
But it’s not just that. We’ll also assist with things like appointment scheduling, lead intake, and live website chat, and deliver a custom strategy that fits your business needs. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.