Monthly Archives: September 2013

9 Reasons Your Law Firm Needs a Virtual Receptionist

The days of having a small law practice with the ever-present receptionist at the front desk are rapidly disappearing. Mobile offices are more common, with a busy office staff and attorneys that don’t have time to answer incoming calls. The virtual receptionist is growing in popularity. Not only does this call center service cut down on overhead, is streamlines the process.

Thriving Practice

When the office pace is relaxed, there’s plenty of time to advertise for a receptionists, conduct interviews, check references and hire the right person. When you have a thriving practice, who has time to find the right person? A virtual receptionist is pre-screened, pre-trained and provides a professional first point of contact for potential and existing clients.

Criminal Contact

For law firms that work on criminal cases, it can be difficult to find a receptionist willing to take calls from those people accused of crimes. While most callers aren’t dangerous, it can be daunting for law firm personnel who can be easily located and are concerned about who is calling into the office. A virtual receptionist is not on location. This eliminates the fear factor and safety concerns that a receptionist may have.

Busy Schedule

Managing the phone system for a law practice with several attorneys requires a professional touch, and someone who can keep track of everyone’s busy schedule. Organization for onsite staff can be hampered when the receptionist is in the office. An offsite setting removes the constant interruptions. A virtual receptionist is focused and organized.

Multiple Offices

Law firms with multiple offices and satellite locations need a central phone number that can contact attorneys as needed and field calls even when no one is in the office.

Stressful Atmosphere

A certain level of stress is present in the front office of any law group. It comes from the high expectations and serious demeanor found with so many legal professionals. Removing the sometimes chaotic hum of the front desk

Customer Service

A professional voice answering the telephone is the first sign of good customer service. Virtual receptionists are professionally trained and carefully screened to find a cordial and pleasant phone presence.

Single Attorney Practice

Should you be answering your own  phones? Get more work done and don’t leave people with the impression that you’re a small operation.

Odd Hours

Law firms receive calls for information and assistance at all hours. It is one industry where 9 to 5 just isn’t enough anymore. Having 24-hour phone coverage can be the difference between landing more clients and barely making rent.

Screening Calls

A virtual receptionist form a professional call center service can provide more than just a friendly and calming voice on the other line. Screening calls at the point of initial contact for lawsuit information, court jurisdiction and case status keeps paralegals and attorneys on top of the game.

Learn more about how a virtual receptionist and other call center services from Americall can enhance your law practice. Contact us today at 800-964-3556.

3 Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Campaign Work Better

A direct mail advertising campaign can be an effective way to promote your company. Whether it’s based on a specific event, like a sale, or a long-term approach to generate new customers, your company can put together a great direct mail campaign that generates leads. Improving the return on investment (ROI) by generating leads that may be on the fringe of converting involves more attention to detail than simply choosing the right mailer and location targets. Here are three tips to make sure that your direct mail advertising campaign yields the best possible returns.

Market Research

If your direct mail campaign isn’t living up to your expectations, it might be because you’re sending out mailers to the wrong people. Make sure you’ve done your homework with surveys and  market research before sending out your advertising and announcement materials. Learn about the demographics of your most likely customers. Whether it’s a location-based marketing strategy or finding the sweet spot of people who want and need your services, market research can narrow down the possibilities. The more likely your message and materials are to reach the right people, the more likely you are to gain from an advertising campaign.

Improving Contact Lists

One of the highest costs involved in direct mail advertising is the potentially high number of returned postcards. If your database is inaccurate or outdated, you will be charged by the U.S. postal system for undeliverable mail. Take the time to do a data cleansing process on your information. if you don’t have the time or the resources, hire a professional company to handle your list cleaning services for you. This can automatically eliminate duplicate entries, incorrect zip codes, address misspellings and improper format issues that not only incur charges from the post office, but also prevents your company’s message from reaching the intended recipients in the first place.

Mail Follow-Up

People get busy. While they may be interested in your services, the idea of stopping what they’re doing and fitting a call to your company into their daily schedule is probably not at the top of their to-do list. A follow-up call from your company’s representative can make a difference, whether it’s from your in-house personnel or an outsourced trained professional. If the potential customers on your mailing list missed the mailer or simply haven’t had the time to do anything with the information you’ve sent to them, they may need a prompt from you to convert. One way to handle follow-up marketing is to use a telemarketing service to contact your target audience and use a soft-sale approach. By outsourcing the project to a company that provides call center services, your full-time in-house staff can concentrate on doing the work and keeping up with the pace, rather than placing follow-up calls. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder that your company is qualified and available.

What Is a Focus Group and Why Do You Need One?

Many companies do market research to find out more about current trends and the habits of potential customers. The more a company knows about what motivates consumers to make the choices they do, the easier it is to predict interest in products, services and policies. The business can then use this information to target and cultivate potential clients. Sampling the opinions of people in the same demographic group as potential or current customers is a marketing tool called a focus group. Interactions with them can occur on a variety of levels and a number of ways.

Focus Groups

Surveys and market research are designed specifically around a focus group to learn about people’s ideas, perceptions and attitudes towards your company’s products and services. For example, it provides background information that is useful if you’re getting ready to launch a new product, if sales are down or if your popularity is dropping and you don’t know why. The focus group is useful if you want to know the opinions of people with similar values, incomes, interests and locations as your customers. It can be used to predict the probable reaction of consumers before your company spends a large amount of money on a new venture.

Market Research

Doing surveys and market research via telephone helps to target a specific group of people and ask them about your products and services. A focus group must be large enough to fairly represent the preferences and opinions of your potential or current customers. Survey questions are carefully worded, selected and posed by call center agents who are trained in the process.

If your company wants to put its finger on the pulse of consumers in your market, a focus group is a manageable way to do this. The process is time-consuming and can be outsourced to a company like Americall that handles professional call center services due to its voluminous and short-term nature.

Why Customer Service Counts

There’s more to doing business with a company than getting product or service that works. The customer service experience plays a major role in whether your customers will become repeat customers if the opportunity presents itself. It also impacts your company’s ability to cross sell and upsell its products and services.

By the Numbers

Simply put, great customer service encourages people to come back to your business. Poor customer service sends them running to your competitors. According to a Customer Experience Impact Report commissioned by RightNow Technologies, 86 percent of customers are willing to pay more money if that means they will receive a better customer experience. Those who encountered a poor experience with a business gravitated to one of that company’s competitors 89 percent of the time.

One reason that companies struggle with poor customer service is because they have either not enough people, the wrong people or insufficiently trained people on the front lines with their customers. Transferring customer service duties to a company that offers call center  services ensures that professionally trained representatives with the right demeanor and proper training can handle everything from placing order to conflict resolution. This also eliminates the issue of ignoring a customer’s needs because you’re short on staff or your employees don’t know how to be nice, polite and professional.

Learn more about how Americall can provide stellar customer care for your clients and potential clients with our call center services for inbound and outbound communications by clicking on the Call Center Service tab at the top of this page.



How to Grow a Business By Outsourcing to Call Center Services

Overhead is a constant issue for companies looking for ways to save money and work more efficiently while they grow their business. The concept of having the same number of people to do a growing amount of work is puzzling. One concern that some business managers have is how to maintain or lower costs without cutting the customer experience. There are other ways to prevent costs from escalating without sacrificing stellar customer service. Outsourcing services to a call center is one method that works well.

Streamline Overhead

Handling the additional tasks and volume through outsourced customer call center services is one way to prevent overhead costs from escalating as your company grows. By outsourcing work to a call center at a separate location, the main core of the company – the hub of everyday operations – remains in the original structure. No extra offices or facilities are needed onsite. Workers handling outbound and inbound customer service matters are in a remote setting, managed by a service like Americall. This streamlines the overhead expenses. Tasks range from complex tech support to answering services to customer returns to client satisfaction surveys.

Hiring and Training

Bringing in new employees to take care of inbound or outbound customer service issues can take considerable time out of the workday for management. The progression of finding, interviewing and hiring new employees is time-consuming. The entire process of hiring and training can be outsourced without draining the business’ human resources department. Once new employees are hired, they must be trained to provide stellar customer service in keeping with the company’s principles and its mission statement. Americall, for example, chooses customer service representatives for the call center and trains them accordingly.

Build Your Customer Base

With a complete customer service division in place, the business can then build its customer base by retaining current clientele and converting potential sales. Happy customers can then offer referrals to their friends, neighbors and family members.

To learn more about how Americall’s call center services can streamline your company’s overhead and help you to grow your business, contact us today.

How a Remote Receptionist Can Alter Your Workday

A company’s telephone is often the lifeline to its customers. Answering calls is an important part of the business, but it can significantly interrupt your workday or impact your customers’ service experience. In some cases, especially for small companies who have a small staff or no staff at all, a remote receptionist is an alternative to in-house staff answering the phone. Here are 5 ways that a remote receptionists can alter your workday.

1. Workload Relief

If you can’t seem to get any work done because you’re too busy answering the phones, handling questions and taking orders, a remote receptionist can provide these services instead. It’s a way to provide a friendly voice to your customers without doubling your workload. This lets you do what you do best while someone else handles the important little details.

2. More Professional Front

A professional voice and demeanor have a strong effect on customers. It does take patience and practice to successfully answer a business phone. Often referred to as a virtual receptionist, a remote receptionist offers a polished and positive impression.

3. Never in the Office

If you spend more time out of the office than in it, you need someone else to answer the phones. Customers often prefer to speak to a live receptionists, rather than leave a message.

4. Home Office

More and more companies have multiple employees who telecommute and are scattered throughout the country. If you work for one such company, you know that, in reality, there is no central location to have a live receptionist. Customers can still reach the employees through a central phone number with the help of a virtual receptionist.

5. Low Volume

If you have a small office that receives very few calls, you might feel like it doesn’t merit hiring a full-time receptionist. On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to answer the phone, it may make more sense to have a professional receptionist offsite to interact with the callers you do have.

To learn more about how AmeriCall can help your company handle your incoming calls with a remote receptionist, contact us at 1-800-964-3556.

Americall and Ranier Connect Create a Dream Network

We’ve been busy behind the scenes at Americall. We have a new hybrid system that ensures a better experience with less downtime. It has seamless re-routing capabilities so our phone and data networks are always up and running. We partnered with Ranier Connect to make it happen.

One of the most frustrating things for businesses is a network system that occasionally goes down. When you rely on a phone or data network all day every day, even a short-term hiccup can wreak havoc in an otherwise efficient routine. Like all businesses that handle outbound and inbound customer service calls, our call centers traditionally experienced occasional line failures that prevented us from doing our work quickly and efficiently around-the-clock.

For years, our Americall team has been dreaming of a day when our networks would be up and running 24/7 without any hiccups. Our friends and colleagues at Ranier Connect have been a great sounding board and have helped us to achieve our goal. We have joined forces and recently announced a new system. It’s a multi-carrier telephone and data network with redundancy that instantly re-routes our phone and data streams the moment there’s a hiccup.

The result is a hybrid system that integrates a fiber, copper and wireless infrastructure that never goes down. It’s a first for our industry.

Our hats are off to the brilliant minds at Ranier Connect, our local carrier. With this new scalable system, we can now provide our clients with call center services and online chat support that is hiccup-free.

Experience the difference. Contact our office today to find out how our failure-free system can work for your company to give you the best telephone answering services and customer service centers in the business.

5 tips for a Seminar Registration Success

Hosting a seminar or conference is an important step for your company to increase its brand recognition. It’s also a great way for your employees and clients to network with others while they’re learning some tricks of the trade. One of the challenges that companies face when hosting an event is making sure that registration goes smoothly. The seminar experience doesn’t begin when the doors open, it begins days, weeks and months ahead when people register. A frustrating experience can result in a loss of participants or a tarnished spot on your company’s otherwise stellar event. Ensure your success with these four tips for seminar registration success.

1. Announcements

The shorter the program, the shorter the time cushion needed for announcing your event. Three to four weeks before your event is usually a good time to get the ball rolling on announcements to all of your mailing list recipients and advertising outlets. If you have multiple events throughout the year, it won’t hurt to bookmark the dates and include them in materials as an upcoming schedule of events, but you’ll still need to send out announcements for shorter seminars about a month ahead of time. Be sure to include information on how to register.

2. Getting Registered

Handling the registration process can be an extra burden on your company’s staff, even if they’re the ones responsible for planning the event. Remember, people who are overwhelmed with extra work tend to make mistakes. Consider setting up an answering service or a remote inbound call center to handle the registration process. Your in-house staff can concentrate on the details of securing speakers, developing dynamic content and planning the catering services. A remote inbound call center service with a live staff can receive registration over the phone and answer any questions that participants may have. A smooth registration process sets the tone for a successful seminar.

3. Confirmation Calls

Even when they know they’ve registered, your attendees will feel more at ease when they receive a confirmation call. Call center outsourcing can alleviate the extra burden on your planning committee while reassuring your attendees that everything is confirmed for their participation.

4. Registration Packets

Every participant should receive a packet upon arrival at the registration check-in table. Outsourced letters and registration packet fulfillment can be handled ahead of time by a capable team that does class, seminar and event registration on a regular basis as part of their inbound call center services. There’s no need for late nights and overtime for your in-house employees when the materials can magically appear, ready and waiting, at your event through the efforts of outsourced staff.

5. Covering Emergencies

No matter how well you plan for your seminar or conference, be prepared for the individuals that thought they were registered but aren’t. Plan for a handful of last-minute additions with contingencies for a few extra seats to accommodate the inevitable last-minute additions. Don’t forget to tell the meet-and-greet team at the registration table to double-check for alternate names or possible misspellings before telling someone they’re not on the roll.

If you’re planning a seminar or even a series of seminars, contact Americall to learn how you can eliminate the extra stress on your employees and create a smooth registration process for your attendees with our inbound call center and seminar registration services.

How Outsourcing Call Center Services Can Improve Customer Service

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a way for companies to add new services when the staff, expertise or assets are not available in-house. Call center services are one of the more effective BPO areas. Outsourcing this portion improves the quality of customer service in a number of ways.

Live Representatives
Some businesses don’t have the resources to maintain an in-house answering service that operates outside of standard work hours. Outsourcing call center services makes it possible to have live representatives for customers throughout the entire day. This improves the customer experience and enhances the brand. Live people with sharp customer service skills increase trust.

Predictable Costs
Another advantage of BPO is lower costs. Outsourced call center services allow a business to budget accurately. Some services calculate costs based on inbound volumes. Others use hours worked or the number of operators. The cost of this type of BPO is much more predictable than maintaining a large in-house staff of representatives and the infrastructure to support a contact center.

Branded Service
Part of outsourcing call center services involves detailed training of representatives in the brand, practices and even products related to the business. This means that customers who are calling will have a consistent experience that reflects the overall personality and brand of the company. Additionally, changing or re-training the agents is possible if there are new customer service issues or modifications to core practices.

Scale As Needed
Some businesses turn to BPO because of scalability. An in-house contact center can’t easily scale upwards if call volumes suddenly spike. Forecasting to hire temporary workers is difficult. Similarly, reducing staff is not a simple process during long periods of low volume. Outsourcing call center services allows the business to add or remove representatives as needed to handle any volume of calls. This especially helps when running large promotional campaigns or when dealing with seasonal rushes.

Detailed Metrics
Using outsourced call center services provides a business with detailed metrics about calls, orders and customers. A company can review average handle times, service levels and call volumes each hour of each day throughout the year. Average order totals and upsale percentages are also normally available. This provides more data that will help a business meet customer needs more effectively.

Use Call Center Services To Clean Up Inaccurate Databases

Your company’s database can be the road to growth. It’s a great way to reach out to potential and past customers on your mailing list. Perhaps they’ve bought your products or signed up for your e-newsletter. You’re losing business and hemorrhaging money if the client database information you have is inaccurate. Returned mail and failed marketing attempts can cost your company in several ways. One solution is to use Americall’s outbound call center services for list cleaning.

How Does List Cleaning Work?

There are three main ways to make sure that your client database is accurate. This is done through address standardization, fixing gender conflicts in your database and contact verification. When the process is complete, your database information is free of errors that hamper delivery and conversion. Hiring a company like Americall to handle call center services such as list cleaning, also called data cleansing, removes the burden from your in-house staff and frees them up to do the work that emphasizes their skill sets.

What is Data Cleansing?

The contact information in your database is checked and verified to make sure that the person’s or company’s name, address, telephone number and email address are all accurate. This greatly reduces or eliminates returned mail and catalogs, which can cut postage costs and fees considerably. It also reduces the number of electronic mailer daemon notices. Using list cleaning services increases the saturation levels for your marketing programs as well as your invoicing process.

How Do Mistakes Infiltrate Your Database?

As people fill out forms and sign up for your company’s services, they may make mistakes, filling out only half of the information, using the wrong zip code or spelling their street name incorrectly. This misinformation can also be entered into your system by human typographical errors in the data entry process. These mistake are typically caused by key mis-strokes or the inability to read someone’s handwriting. Sometimes people move or a city changes its zip code system.

Once the mistakes are fixed, your company can efficiently perform marketing calls, and send mail or email to contacts to tell them about your business.

To learn more about Americall’s list cleaning and other outbound call center services, call us at 1-800-964-3556.