This article was sponsored by Moneypenny.It’s an often overlooked problem for the UK’s SMEs: phone calls. Floods of phone calls from clients, customers or suppliers trying to get a hold of the few time-poor people in a smaller business. Miss one and you could lose an order, jeopardise a vital sale or miss an urgent message. But it’s near impossible (and very inefficient) to stay on phone duty 24/7. Due to this problem, a trend of outsourcing receptionist services has emerged. More and more businesses employ help to be able to deal with calls 24-hours a day. Some go digital and use virtual receptionist services. Most, however, make use of the growing industry of “live” telephone answering services. The idea is to keep the carpet rolled out permanently for customers or clients by diverting some or all calls to a separate answering service. This service might only come in when the business’s lines are engaged, or a person is currently away from the office. Rachel Clacher and Ed Reeves, the brother-and-sister team that founded Moneypenny, one of the UK’s leading telephone answering services, built their business after struggling with the phone call floods themselves. “We both ran small businesses – I a marketing consultancy and Ed a graphics firm,” Clacher told Real Business. “Ed needed someone to look after his telephone calls while he had to be out of the office. We found a company that would respond to calls while he was on the road. Ed would just divert his call to a number where people would answer in his company’s name, take a message and email it to him.”
But when Reeves went on holiday, things went wrong. A key client was unable to fax through a re-order of a graphic because the fax machine had run out of paper. He phoned to ask if it could be replenished but the call was diverted and the person taking it replied, “I’m just an answering service.”
“Ed lost the order but the incident inspired us. We thought, why couldn’t there be a telephone answering service staffed by people whom you knew and trusted?” Here they hit the nail on the head. Don’t we all know how protective entrepreneurs are when it comes to their business? Ask yourself if you would let a stranger with no insight into the company and clients look after important phone calls. Hardly, right? Modern receptionist and PA services have finally understood this and are now working on their relationships with business owners and their ventures. Moneypenny, who today employ 250 people, connect business owners with only one particular PA or receptionist, rather than forwarding calls to various people in a call centre. “Quality is everything to us and we make a point of hand-picking our receptionists for their positive attitude and professional approach, ensuring we deliver an outstanding service. They know the businesses they are working with and can be trusted 100 per cent,” said Clacher. When a receptionist joins Moneypenny they immediately sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and are made familiar with the Data Protection Act, to mitigate any confidentiality and data protection risks. “All information disclosed by or relating to a business is treated as strictly confidential and is held on a database that can only be accessed by authorised Moneypenny employees in order to perform their duties. Each account is held strictly independently and our databases are backed up throughout the day and nightly,” says Clacher. The best people to answer your calls will always be your receptionists. But in a SME with limited resources, that isn’t always possible. It seems to make sense to many UK businesses that, when they are particularly busy, staffing levels are low, or even just to cover lunchtime, completion days or holidays, routing calls to an outsourced service is the best option to make sure no calls go unanswered and you capture every opportunity that might be lurking on the other end of the line.
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