There's no doubt that having their enquiry handled by a 'real' person, rather than picked up by an answering machine, is something that your clients will appreciate.  Consider the following points, and ask yourself if your business currently delivers a service that your clients are happy with.  If not, you might want to think about hiring a live answering service.

First impressions

Many people simply hang up if their call is fielded by a voicemail machine.  Similarly, a list of 'press #1 for …, or press #2 for …' automatic prompts is also likely to result in a terminated call.  It can also be extremely frustrating for a potential customer to have their first enquiry call answered, and then immediately find themselves put on hold because the receptionist is too snowed under with calls to speak to them straight away.

A live answering service will pick up incoming calls promptly and will politely announce their name and your company details, before asking how they can be of assistance to the caller, providing an altogether much more satisfactory experience for the customer. 

Handling queries

It's not always possible to immediately provide callers with the information that they want.  Make sure that you brief the live answering service staff correctly so that they can offer callers a potential solution to their query.  For example, if the caller is asking for a price for a construction job, the virtual assistant should reassure them that they will receive a call back with the information they want, together with an approximate timeframe within which to expect the call back.

If someone calls asking for a service or product that your company does not provide, brief the live answering service or virtual assistant to explain this to the caller, but also to outline what you can offer for their future reference.  

Taking messages

Message-taking is a specialised skill that the VA or live answering service staff should be proficient in.  Any information that is offered by a caller should be repeated back to them for confirmation.  This not only ensures that the information you will receive is correct, but it also reassures the caller that their details have been taken and that their call won't simply be forgotten about or ignored.

In conclusion

The way in which your customers' calls are dealt with can make or break a deal, potentially leading to unhappy customers, a poor reputation for your business, and even long term financial losses for your company.  If you spend time away from your office and currently rely on an answerphone, why not consider using the services of a virtual assistant or live answering service?  Your customers and your bottom line will thank you for it.