The holiday season is just around the corner: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years (don't forget Veterans Day). These next two months are some of the busiest for small retailers and e-commerce sites, two types of businesses that could benefit from an answering service during the holiday season.
We're certainly not saying that you shouldn't hire any seasonal employees, especially if you are going to need someone in-house to handle customers and/or inventory. However, if you also get a huge increase in phone calls during the holiday season, you need someone to handle those as well. Those who are calling could also be paying customers, and may simply be looking for the first store who has a certain item in stock. If you don't answer the phone because you're too busy working with another customer, then that's business you could easily lose. An answering service can help you to increase sales and to have a much more successful holiday shopping season.
An Answering Service Can Be Temporary, or Permanent
The great thing about the answering service is that you can get it just for the holiday season, or you can opt to keep the service after the rush is over. With some answering services, there's no contract, so you can terminate the service in January if you wish. This also allows you to request the service around this time of the year every year, perhaps allowing you to hire one more seasonal employee, or to give the seasonal employees you have a few more hours, or to have some extra funds to do additional marketing.
Understand that answering services can do more than answer the phone. It's not as if this person will forward all calls to you, so you minus well answer them yourself or have a seasonal employee do it. Answering services can also set appointments, take customer orders, and answer customer questions, which is what you really need from an answering service. These people can be trained in your business so they can answer questions correctly and provide accurate information about prices and what's in stock. It's as if the answering service is a part of the team!
You Only Have to Train an Answering Service Once
Sure, you could probably have your seasonal employees help with the phones, or have everyone take turns, but if you do that then you have to train people more than once. Most seasonal employees don't become full-time employees, and so will take their training with them. However, with an answering service, if you go with the same company year after year, those folks will only need to be trained once, and they will only need to be trained on the details of your business. The service doesn't need to be trained on how to answer the phone, unlike some people that you may hire. This also works out if you choose to keep the answering service permanently.
The 2012 holiday season is projected to reach $920 billion in sales, with e-commerce and MOTO (mail order/telephone order) sales will rise 15% to 17%. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers and e-commerce to utilize an answering service in order to keep up with the increased demand and to have as successful a holiday season as possible.