When I explain to businesses what outsourced communications is, I usually start by saying that you have probably talked to a company like Moneypenny without even knowing it, since we handle calls and live chats as an integrated part of a client’s team.
Following the pandemic when millions of staff were forced to work remotely, businesses woke up to the power of outsourcing their communications to a third party. Almost overnight, as lockdowns were enforced, companies had to stand down their reception and communicate with their staff by mobile. About this time, they discovered their telephone systems weren’t always up to the job. When looking at the benefits of outsourcing communications for franchise organizations, the telephone is the most obvious place to start.
“When looking at the benefits of outsourcing communications for franchise organizations, the telephone is the most obvious place to start”
Never miss another call
An outsourced reception and PA (personal assistant) service means you’ll never miss a call again. These outsourced call handlers get to know your business intimately, and can either step in to help answer calls when demand is high, or can act as your constant 24/7 receptionist if needed.
They can take messages to pass on to the right person and are highly trained to be as efficient, warm, and friendly as possible; delivering excellent customer service, whether when handling calls from your existing clients or taking calls from new business leads too.
In fact, the founder of Moneypenny, Ed Reeves, set up the company when he became frustrated that he had missed a call that was a valuable new business lead at his previous company and felt there had to be a better way.
A new generation of communication
Another factor to bear in mind is that many franchisees may have grown up in a different era. We don’t talk as much on the phone anymore, with many preferring use of Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp with short and snappy exchanges, which means good telephone skills are often less prevalent. Some franchisees might need to learn the skills to have actual phone conversations, or could simply instead outsource calls to professional call handlers who are expert in talking on the phone.
We recently conducted a survey that revealed a curt ‘Hello’ was used by 26 per cent of small businesses when answering the phone, and that it was seen by most as ‘unprofessional’, ‘off-putting’ and even ‘rude’.
This curtness most certainly is a result of our growing use of text-based communication. While some may consider it efficient, it’s actually perceived as poor customer service, which can cost sales, rapport and brand reputation.
Outsourced call handlers are humans super-powered by technology, so busy franchises receiving multiple calls simultaneously will benefit from modern telephony’s use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to transmit voice and multimedia over internet connections.
This technology converts a user’s voice and image to digital data to deliver communications over the internet. Offering businesses the chance to unify their communication technologies into one system, VoIP makes it possible for teams to not have to work in a variety of applications to call, message, chat or email.
Some outsourced communications providers also run a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system that recognizes incoming telephone numbers and automatically presents all relevant caller information to the call handler answering it, such as whether the caller is asking about their bill or changing an appointment.
These callers will have no idea that this is going on behind the scenes in real-time, but they’ll benefit from instantly getting through to the right person to handle their inquiry.
The rise of Live Chat While the telephone remains a key form of business communication, franchises shouldn’t ignore the power of Live Chat, use of which doubled during the pandemic. Websites that offer live chat have been proven to generate 50 per cent more business leads than those without it.
Having worked hard in developing your website to attract customers, the last thing you want is to lose them if they can’t reach you quickly and easily. Instead, by outsourcing your live chat and call handling, you take the pressure off your in-house team.
Research shows that the ratio of web form completion to live chats is 1:6, so franchises should carefully consider the potential of Live Chat to improve the functionality and efficiency of their sites.
Big data is king
We live in an era where big data is king, informing how businesses are run, what products and services they develop and offer, and how customers are targeted and evaluated. Data obtained through call handling and Live Chat provides franchises with hugely useful intelligence on what products and services are popular, and how customers have responded to marketing activity, such as identifying a surge in calls following an ad campaign.
In this way, outsourced communications can help franchises better understand their customers, to adapt and grow their business – it’s no secret that fastgrowing companies are the most attuned to their customers.
Finally, it’s important to know that setting up outsourced communications is both quick and easy. The process takes less than 24 hours, during which you’ll be introduced to your call handlers, they’ll be briefed by you so they understand your business, then they are ready to go. We are even now integrating Microsoft Teams into our clients’ systems, so we can see our clients’ schedule and redirect calls if a contact is in a meeting.
Benefits to outsourcing your franchise’s communications
- Improved operating efficiency
- Time saving for staff
- Improved customer service
- Cost efficiency
- Business analytics
Erik Schurke is the CEO of Moneypenny Group North America, the world’s leading provider of telephone answering, outsourced switchboard, live chat and customer contact solutions, handling over 20 million calls and live chats for 21,000 businesses – many of them franchises