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How Virtual Receptionists Increase Your Business

Maddy M, Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Smith.ai

Apr 3, 2018 @ 4:00PM 4 minute read

Running a home services business is not like running just any small business. To be sure, life is plenty busy when you’re operating a local dance studio or tutoring center, but owners and operators of home services businesses have a unique constraint: you’re out of the office a lot. The better business is going, the more you’re absent from your desk.

And that means two things, primarily: a lot of work (estimates, invoices, receipts) waits till you get back to the office, and a lot of calls and emails are missed. Client management software that runs on your phone, like Housecall Pro, handles the first problem; virtual receptionists resolve the second.

If you’re not yet using a live answering service, here are 5 major ways it can help you increase new business and make your current clients happier.

1. Capture & qualify leads

New leads are coming from referrals, Yelp, Google, Thumbtack, Facebook, and many other sources. You might even be paying for placement on these sites. When someone sees your business and calls about your services, if you don’t pick up, they’re off to call the next business. If they’re filling out web forms, often the company that wins the business is the first to respond. A receptionist service can ensure you’re responding to new leads as soon as they come in.

A great receptionist service doesn’t just pick up the phone, though -- they also qualify the lead. Are they in your service area? Are they willing to pay your hourly rate? Do their service needs align with the services your business provides? These are just a few of the questions you can use to filter out the great leads from those that won’t convert to real clients.

2. Intake new clients

So, your receptionists have captured and qualified the lead. Now what? It’s time to get that new client in your system. Identify the information you need from all new clients, like basic contact information, plus information that will help you build a quote or book their job. If you clean carpets, for example, you’ll likely need to know the carpet type, room size, whether pets or kids are present, and more.

Your receptionists can capture this information and pass it directly into your CRM or client management system. If you’ve created a client intake form within your CRM, your receptionists can complete and submit the form on behalf of each client.

3. Appointment booking & reminders

Once a client has agreed to your fees, they’re going to want to book an appointment as soon as possible. Your receptionists can not only handle this step of the process, they can also call clients to remind them of upcoming appointments and maintenance reminders.

If you really want to go the extra mile, nothing delights customers more than having a check-in call from a business. Remote receptionists can call recent clients you serviced and see how they’re faring. If they respond positively, this is an excellent opportunity to ask for a positive review on one of those sites that generates leads for your business.

4. Provide work status updates

Some home-service work isn’t done in a day. Perhaps you’re a roofer, landscaper, or floor refinisher. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you following up with current clients to share work status updates. Are the new roofing tiles in? Bad weather coming and a job needs to be rescheduled? A virtual receptionist can make these calls for you while you tend to other matters that do actually require your personal attention.

5. FAQs & first-tier customer support

Even when you’re available to take calls and return emails, that doesn’t mean answering them is the best use of your time. How many times a week do you field the same questions? Sure, the answers are on your website, but sometimes new leads want to hear them from a live person.

A remote receptionist armed with answers to common questions asked about your business can handle these inquiries. Not only can they answer questions from incoming callers, but they can also call people back. Just forward those emails to your receptionist service and ask them to make the calls on your behalf.

Now, let’s talk about those calls from unhappy customers, because everybody gets them. The first step to soothing an irritated customer is to answer the phone and not let it go to voicemail. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than not feeling heard, or not being able to reach you. A virtual receptionist service ensures that your calls are always answered during business hours. The receptionist can take down all relevant information and send it to you or a member of your team to respond to as soon as you’re available. Another benefit here is that this buys you time to resolve the issue, rather than being put on the spot while the customer is on the phone.

Choosing the right virtual receptionist service

It’s important to note that not every live answering service offers lead qualification, new client intake, and outbound calls. Make sure you ask about these features when shopping around.

What’s special about Smith.ai

Smith.ai virtual receptionists offers all of these services, and also integrates with Housecall Pro. Professional, U.S.-based receptionists answer, transfer, and return calls during your business hours, and all appointments are booked directly in your Housecall Pro account, so you’re fully in sync.

What’s with the “ai” in the name? That stands for “artificial technology,” and it powers the following features:

  • Automatic spam blocking of 20 million numbers
  • Live call transfer requests via SMS and Slack
  • Easy status changes via SMS (e.g., text “Do Not Disturb” when you arrive at work site)
  • Instant call notes via email, SMS, or Slack

Unlike most live answering services, billing is per-call, not per-minute. Leads who need to explain their work request in fine detail? New clients who need to complete an intake form? Existing clients who need a work status update? These calls can take 5 to 10 minutes or more. You get consistent billing when you’re charged per-call, and you never incur post-call wrap-up charges while the receptionist completes notes and appointment bookings.

Every Smith.plan includes:

  • Inbound & outbound calls
  • Lead capture & qualification
  • Appointment scheduling & reminders
  • Customized call handling procedures for each business (and even each professional or technician on staff)
  • Coverage Monday to Friday, 6AM to 6PM PST / 9AM to 9PM EST
  • Call screening, prioritization, and VIP lists
  • Instant call summaries and end-of-day reports
  • Voicemails transcribed and sent to email or SMS

With plans starting at $60/month, small businesses get the experience and quality of an in-house receptionist at a small fraction of the price.

Here’s what one of their long-time clients had to say:

“I've worked with many answering services over the 7 years that I have been in business. This one is hands down, my favorite. The messages are clear and concise. They are great at handling clients. Fees are reasonable and realistic. I could not be happier.”

- Cathy Green, UpperCrust Laundry

Get started with Smith.ai virtual receptionists

If you’d like to sign up for Smith.ai, you may do so online at https://smith.ai, by phone at (650) 727-6484, or by email at support@smith.ai. Housecall Pro users get $50 off their first month with code HOUSECALL! This code can be used in combination with their 30-day/10-call free trial.

Contact Smith.ai

Questions about virtual receptionists? Wondering how it will work with your Housecall Pro account? Smith.ai support is available Monday through Friday between 6 AM and 6 PM PST at (650) 727-6484 or support@smith.ai.

Book a live demo today

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