Being a consultant or work-from-home freelancer, it's difficult to gain credibility as a serious professional.
As a company of one working form home and utilizing a virtual office (I work from home and use the professional address for zoning and privacy purposes), there's isn't much need for us to have a phone answering service. However, this doesn't necessarily mean we will never get a phone answering service, or that we actually don't need one right now. If I were to have a phone answering service answering all of the company's calls, here's how and why I could really use the help:
- Taking Messages - I currently use Skype for my business. If I don't answer a call in time, it forwards to my cell, where I could also miss the call. Then, I might get a message on my cell, which I could easily miss if my phone is on silent or if I happen to leave it at home. A phone answering service would take calls simply to take that message, and without any of the forwarding. This way, I can respond to messages a bit more promptly.
- Keeping Business, Business - My cell number actually has a different area code from my business, which can be confusing to people. It also means I'd have to give away my cell number if I were to make or to return a call to a client. Although that's not entirely a bad thing, I don't want my cell to be treated as the primary source of contact for me. With a phone answering service, I can much more easily keep my business number as my primary source of contact while giving me a little more choice in whom I give my cell number to.
- Sometimes, I Really Don't Want to Take a Call - Especially if I am in the middle of a webinar or on lunch break, I don't want to take any calls, no matter how important. I particularly don't like unexpected calls, as I tend to feel interrupted and unprepared to take them. However, since I am the only employee, I have to attend to all calls. A phone answering service can help with that by having someone else take the call, and then I can attend to the important ones at another time and not have the unimportant ones distract me from more pressing tasks.
- My Home Office Doesn't Have the Best Sound - I've had a couple of clients complain about the sound when on a Skype call, and I don't think that Skype is to blame. I've used Skype in a few other places besides my home office, and its when I use it in the home office that they've complained. I don't know if it's the acoustics in the home office, or my headset, or my Internet connection, but perhaps a phone answering service might provide better quality for my own clients. Besides that, I don't have any idea of what else my clients can hear in the background (dogs barking, cars driving by, the noisy upstairs neighbor etc).
Overall, even a home-based business or a sole proprietorship can use a phone answering service. Even if it's for the sake of a more professional impression and a better quality call, a phone answering service can help by converting more potential customers into customers and by embodying more trust in you and your brand. A phone answering service isn't just something that bigger companies or certain types of businesses have.