UK's leading provider of Telephone Answering Services suggests IFAs could be missing
As the UK's leading provider of Telephone Answering Services, Moneypenny handles calls for nearly 4000 businesses, equating to 6.5 million calls being captured and dealt with professionally over an entire year.
Given this time of austerity, it's quite understandable that IFAs should have one eye fixed firmly on the purse strings. But with figures recently released by Moneypenny, which suggest that IFAs are missing opportunities, are you really saving money by overlooking engaged and unanswered calls, or just being plain short-sighted?
"It's a fact that unanswered and mishandled calls harm your business," explains Glenn Jackson, Managing Director of Moneypenny. "We're all consumers and I'm certain we can think of one time or another when we've phoned a business and either no one's answered or the line's been engaged. Even if we don't think much of it and give the business the benefit of the doubt, there's every chance we'll get straight back on the phone and call a competitor."
Of course, very few businesses will have absolutely no form of telephone provision in place. But this fact only makes the thought of three calls ‘slipping through the net' each day even more frustrating. It would seem that despite the best efforts IFAs make to conscientiously divert calls to mobiles and apply recorded announcements to the line, just one caller averse to leaving voicemails or in a hurry to speak to someone in person, means an opportunity will have been lost.
"The beauty of a service like Moneypenny, is that you're given your own dedicated assistant, someone you know and trust, to handle calls just as if based in your office" continues Glenn. "You can choose to use her as much or as little as you want by transferring all calls to her or just those which are engaged or unanswered."
"Andrea, our Moneypenny PA, helps us capture every call and get on with what we do best - all whilst keeping our overheads to a minimum" explains Paul Smith, co-owner of Provident Solutions. "By filtering out sales callers and only transferring relevant calls to us, she's helping us work smarter, providing a professional front at all times. There can't be many services that enhance your offering to clients, yet still help you save money. Telephone answering however, is one of them."
It's true that telephone answering as an industry has grown immensely over the past decade. In 2000, few people had heard of telephone answering provision that offered businesses their own dedicated assistant to handle calls. Instead, most associated the industry with call handling in the form of ‘next available operator' message taking. Ten years on and the choice of provider may have widened, but consumers are still urged to ask the right questions when selecting a suitable company to work with.
"I'd advise businesses to choose their provider wisely" comments Michael Mott, owner of Michael Mott Financial Services. "Telephone answering works if the person handling your calls knows you, your business and how you like to operate. The best example I have of this is when my Moneypenny PA tried to get hold of me regarding an urgent call from a client. At one point, she even called the client back to update them on the situation. I often get compliments on how well my calls are handled, but the way this particular client was dealt with was exceptional. It's this level of care and attention to detail that makes the service valuable, yet cost-effective at the same time."
No business likes to think it's missing telephone calls. But with evidence suggesting IFAs are missing an average of three calls every day, you really can't afford to dismiss what an engaged or unanswered call is saying about your business. Finding a way of capturing every opportunity, without incurring the cost of an additional team member may seem an unrealistic aspiration, but for clients using a reputable telephone answering service, this is exactly what they can expect to achieve.
Five questions you should be asking when choosing the right telephone answering provider:
1. Where are the PAs based?
Most providers will claim their PAs are UK-based, but it's worth checking whether or not they are home workers as well. Answering calls with other potential distractions all around, could compromise the level of service you receive.
2. Are the costs transparent?
Make sure that the pricing scheme you are being offered isn't hiding any chargeable extras such as additional costs to transfer calls, send texts rather than emails and to make any diary updates.
3. Are the schemes flexible?
Certain businesses are subject to seasonal trends or shut down periods. In such cases, any scheme you are offered should be flexible and allow you to increase or decrease the level of support you require, without incurring financial penalties.
4. Are there any long-term contracts?
A provider that's confident in their service won't want to tie you into any long-term contracts. Instead, they are more likely to offer a one month notice period, should you ever wish to terminate your service.
5. Does the provider offer any free additional extras?
Many of the larger providers now offer sophisticated ways for clients to update their PA at a moment's notice. Others also provide access to individual call statistics via online portals and additional business services.
Nine in 10 do not have income protection
Set to become part of Single Financial Guidance Body
Also plan to scrap NI on contributions
Eight-week high against US dollar
Lower cost option for advisers