Still Stuck on Voicemail? 5 Reasons to Use a Telephone Answering Service

Decades ago, voicemail was a big deal. There was something novel about calling a number, letting the phone ring for a while, realizing the person on the other end wasn’t going to pick up, and still being greeted by their voice on the other end of the line. The best part: you could actually talk to them, or at least provide an abbreviated, one-sided version of what you wanted to say. When compared to letting the phone ring 20 times, hanging up, and waiting to call again (and again and again), voicemail felt like magic.

Those days are long gone, to put it mildly. Today, few things are more annoying (or more inconvenient) than getting someone’s voicemail. It’s far easier and much less awkward to shoot someone a text, ping them on Skype, send a social media message, or use almost any of the other technology-enabled contact methods that didn’t exist a decade or two ago.

The same logic applies to small businesses. If you run a company or professional office that isn’t staffed 24/7, you probably have a voicemail answering system set up to handle after-hours customer calls. Maybe it captures a legitimate message from time to time. But how many more messages consist of clicks or mumbled “neverminds”? The bottom line: by entrusting your after-hours inquiries to a “dumb” machine, you’re almost certainly leaving money on the table.

Fortunately, there’s a simple, cost-effective alternative: a telephone answering service. Here are five reasons to get your business off of voicemail and embracing the power of telephone answering services.

  1. Voicemail Can’t Talk Back

Voicemail systems passively take messages from inbound callers. While this is useful for simple exchanges, it’s not ideal for more complex issues that might require some back-and-forth. Voicemail systems can’t ask logical questions in pursuit of additional clarification. Businesses that rely solely on voicemail are thus left with incomplete or inaccurate caller information, potentially creating problems down-the-line.

  1. Voicemail Is Time-Limited

Voicemail messages are typically limited to 120 or 180 seconds, and sometimes even less. That might not be enough time for a customer or vendor to explain a complex problem. To ensure that nothing is lost in translation, a staff member at the receiving organization may have to follow-up. This becomes a time and productivity sink.

  1. Voicemail Can’t Handle Dispatching or Confirm Scheduled Appointments

As a passive, one-way information gathering tool, voicemail can’t actively engage internal employees or customers. In particular, it can’t arrange employee dispatching or actively confirm scheduled appointments ahead of time. Without a telephone answering service, such processes require human employees, and most likely at substantial cost.

  1. Voicemail Can’t Handle Large Inbound Volumes

The ability of voicemail to process inbound calls and requests is limited by the amount of manpower (or automation) available to assist. Companies that regularly receive large inbound call volumes around specific events or initiatives, such as conventions or new product releases, set themselves up for failure when relying on voicemail to effectively process such onslaughts. Telephone answering services offer registration services for clients who are expecting high inbound volumes, boosting peace of mind come “crunch time”.

  1. Voicemail Can’t Deliver Messages

Voicemail can take messages, but it can’t actively forward them to the appropriate parties. Telephone answering services can — and through a variety of convenient channels, no less.

Does your company use a telephone answering service?

Does Your Professional Office Need a Virtual Receptionist? 4 Arguments in Favor

Small business owners are feeling the pinch of an increasingly competitive global economy. Even if you cater to a local client base, you’re likely still at the mercy of macro forces that are beyond your control.

When you’re carefully watching every dollar — alright, every penny — it’s a challenge to think rationally about investing in the future of your business. It’s easy to fall into a short-term trap: reacting to each new problem as it arises, failing to plan beyond next month (or next week), and ultimately allowing circumstances to dictate your company’s success or failure.

Unfortunately, today’s customers are more demanding than ever. Steeped in a culture that promises instant gratification and customized experiences, they have little patience for businesses that can’t cater to their whims. The concept of “not available” doesn’t exist in their collective mentality.

Catering to these heavy demands is prohibitively expensive for many cost-conscious companies. Fortunately, small business owners who worry about the financial ramifications of hiring new employees or extending their hours have a powerful new ally in their corner: virtual receptionist services. If you’re struggling to square your customer service circle, consider these four arguments in favor of using a virtual receptionist.

  1. Virtual Receptionists Handle Everything That Traditional Receptionists Do

Virtual receptionists are experienced, competent professionals with access to phones, Internet-connected computers, fax terminals and other critical business equipment. They’re adept at using scheduling software, spreadsheets, word processing programs, and more.

In other words, they’re capable of handling everything that regular full-time receptionists do. The only difference: they work remotely, often hundreds or thousands of miles from their clients’ offices. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t bring a host of other advantages to the table.

  1. Virtual Receptionists Are Always Available

Since virtual receptionists work in teams at dedicated telephone answering service facilities, they’re not limited by biology or scheduling. Companies that use virtual receptionist services don’t have to worry about their receptionists breaking for lunch, stepping away from their desks to use the bathroom, or not showing up to work due to illness or personal issues. In short, virtual receptionist services can be more reliable than in-house alternatives. This is particularly important for small businesses and professional offices that lack the resources to build in-house receptionist teams.

  1. Virtual Receptionists Create an Aura of Professionalism

Even if they’re hundreds of miles away, virtual receptionists give businesses and professionals a critical air of professionalism that allows them to impress their clients and boost the likelihood that a given call will lead to a sale (or revenue-generating service). Virtual receptionists understand the specific needs and pressures faced by each of their clients, meaning they’re equipped to both handle all routine inquiries and fill all the mission-critical functions of an in-house employee.

  1. Virtual Receptionists Cost Less Than Full-Time Receptionists

Despite the indistinguishable quality of service and superior availability relative to internal receptionists, virtual receptionists cost far less than their on-site counterparts. This is because virtual receptionist services offer economies of scale that small and midsize companies simply can’t match. Faced with the option to hire a full-time receptionist or tap a virtual receptionist service, the latter is a no-brainer for budget-conscious businesses.

Do you use a virtual receptionist for your business?

Beyond Computer Repair: George Otte’s Entrepreneurial Story

Those that know George Otte well, aren’t shy about calling his biography what it is: a true story of hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, and success. From an early age, Otte focused relentlessly on building successful businesses that add value for customers, employees and society at large. Though he’s still quite young, he’s persevered through numerous challenges — and emerged stronger from each one.

Here’s a look at how George Otte got his start and where he is now. Spoiler alert: There’s inspiration ahead.

Otte’s Early Ventures

George Otte, Miami entrepreneur, got started in business at the young age of 21 — “when most of my peers were more interested in partying than making it to class or work on time,” he laughs. While enrolled as a full-time student at a South Florida university, Otte took a part-time job at Coral Gables bank — ostensibly to help pay his tuition bills.

Otte’s technical savvy caught the eye of one of the bank’s clients, whose offer to pay him for ongoing technical support services began a chain of events that led to Otte’s founding of TSS, his first incorporated company. Otte realized that he had a gift worth sharing with his local business community — and resolved to make a name for himself in the process.

Over the following months, George Otte enrolled in a business law class, incorporated his firm, accumulated Microsoft certifications, and joined the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. He soon found himself hiring helpers to handle his growing client portfolio. By the end of 2005, TSS had more than 100 clients, mostly in and around South Florida. Thanks to Otte’s personalized approach to each of his client relationships and to his uncanny knack for staying on top of a rapidly changing industry, TSS became recognized as the premier independent provider of computer repair and onsite technical support in the Miami area.

Geeks on Site

In 2006, George Otte took a pivotal step in his entrepreneurial journey: he acquired Dallas-based Geeks on Site, an existing technical support and computer repair provider, and set about building the company into a nationwide company. Despite a challenging economic environment and intense competition in many of the local markets into which Geeks on Site moved, the company expanded rapidly under Otte’s expert direction. By the early 2010s, Geeks on Site directly employed more than 100 people in a number of U.S. and international markets. Thanks to a network of local contract tech support experts on the ground in more than 150 U.S. metro areas, Geeks on Site had become a truly nationwide tech support provider.

Geeks on Site continues to offer remote computer repair and onsite technical support services for business clients and individuals alike. However, Otte wasn’t content to make Geeks on Site the endpoint of his business career. Under the auspices of his holding company, Otte Polo group, Otte soon moved into other industries.

Responsive Call Center

In the early 2010s, George Otte launched Responsive Call Center, a geographically diverse telephone answering service company that caters to businesses of all sizes. Responsive Call Center’s primary lines of business include:

  •      24/7 live answering services, both during and after clients’ business hours
  •      Call screening and identification
  •      Appointment scheduling and notifications
  •      Personnel and asset dispatching
  •      Registration services
  •      Virtual receptionist services
  •     And additional outbound services!

Responsive Call Center now has nine distinct contact center facilities, representing six independent companies. The firm’s services are available throughout the United States, catering to companies in the healthcare, legal, professional services, property management, tourism, and shipping industries.

Although Responsive Call Center provides indispensable support for its clients, Otte realized that the company’s work would be even more effective in conjunction with a comprehensive lineup of other business solutions. This realization led to the acquisition of Phase V, a Fort Myers-based fulfillment firm with an existing portfolio of clients and work histories stretching back to the early 1980s.

Phase V

Otte’s Phase V acquisition allows him to serve small, midsize, and enterprise business clients that lack the resources or expertise to handle fulfillment operations in-house. The company’s conveniently located facility offers a wide variety of services, including:

  •      Fulfillment and order processing
  •      Direct mail, including list generation and management
  •      Contact services, including inbound call answering
  •      Warehousing and other logistical services

Otte continues to look for additional acquisition targets that could enhance Phase V’s geographical reach and capabilities.

Building a Business Network

For many entrepreneurs, three successful business ventures would be enough. Not for George Otte. Even as he continues to build Responsive Call Center and Phase V into the top privately-held firms in both their respective industries and geographical areas, he’s on the hunt for new opportunities to diversify his holdings, invest in new communities, and support a growing roster of employees and their families.

Through a recently created subsidiary called Otte Real Estate, Otte aims to replicate his technical support, answering service and fulfillment success in the ever-dynamic real estate industry. Part of the Otte Polo family of companies, Otte Real Estate seeks out and invests in residential real estate opportunities throughout the United States and Latin America. Although Otte continues to devote the bulk of his attention to Responsive Call Center, Phase V, and Geeks on Site, he’s excited by the potential of Otte Real Estate.

What Can We Learn from George Otte’s Story?

George Otte, Miami entrepreneur, is humble and who’s happy with the success he’s created for himself. But he’s not ready to rest on his laurels. Otte is actively seeking to expand his telephone answering service and fulfillment businesses, keen to find and take opportunities wherever they might present themselves. While he’s long since learned to delegate key responsibilities to trusted employees, he’s not shy about continuing to take an active role in the management of his various business properties.

Otte’s commitment to personal development, in terms of meeting and exceeding the goals he sets for himself, inspires his employees, friends, and family. But Otte isn’t a superhero. He’s a regular guy with a combination of above-average drive and the old-fashioned smarts to see his plans through to completion. To borrow another cliche: if he can do it, so can you.

What inspires you most about George Otte’s story?