Should a business outsource its important reception function?
by Glenn Jackson, Managing Director of Moneypenny
Throughout the UK, companies remain under pressure to reduce costs without compromising on good customer service. But is the decision to save money by outsourcing a company’s reception a step too far? Glenn Jackson, Managing Director of Moneypenny, the UK’s leading telephone answering service, looks at whether companies and their clients can benefit from outsourcing this critical function.
A company’s reception is a vital part of its brand, because it defines the business to its customers, right from the initial point of contact. The importance of getting call handling right is also highlighted by research which shows that 62% of callers will not ring back if they hear an engaged tone, whilst 79% say they won’t call back if their call goes unanswered. A recent 2011 UK-wide survey also found that being put on hold was the third most likely cause of people becoming impatient and annoyed with an organisation.
Of course, employing additional staff to handle peak call volumes can be expensive, but these costs can be reduced through outsourcing. It is however critical that if choosing to outsource, the right partner is selected: one that you can trust to best represent your business. Having the right partner not only ensures that the brand is protected, but also that all calls are handled promptly and professionally, regardless of call volumes.
There are obvious savings if a company chooses to outsource their reception through a reduction in the amount paid on salaries. The average salary for a receptionist in the UK is £17,381 plus National Insurance, holiday entitlements and other benefits. But many companies may still want or need a friendly face to greet visitors and so the key is striking the right balance as requirements differ between organisations. Whether you choose to outsource completely, divert calls at peak times, or stick with traditional reception staff, seeking short-term solutions tends to prove a false economy.
If a business is looking to maintain an in-house function, the outsourcing of overflow calls can bring real benefits. Even the best receptionist in the world cannot answer three phones at once and offer a VIP visitor refreshments, as well as a friendly chat all at the same time. Yet staffing up for such occurrences can be costly. Partial outsourcing can provide an office with essential back-up at busy times, save on the need for temporary cover and ensure that no calls are missed. Equally, during periods of low call volumes, companies are not paying for unnecessary staff.
Picking the right partner and the people working on your business is critical. Time should be invested in educating your dedicated outsourced receptionist as to how you would prefer calls to be taken and processed, and to provide her with the required information so that she is familiar with the company, personnel and other key business information.
This extra knowledge acts as a highly effective reassurance in a competitive marketplace and is essentially the difference between a genuine outsourced business partner and a basic `call minder’ type of service. Let’s not forget that customers make judgements within seconds of speaking with someone; make sure you have the right team in place to ensure it’s the right judgement first time.
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