How Business is Embracing Sustainability

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on March 17, 2016 | Categories:


sustainability

Putting sustainability issues front and centre.

The world is facing a number of environmental and sustainability challenges  From global warming to resource efficiency, the UK has always been at the forefront of the effort to tackle these issues. The business sector understands its environmental impact and is taking action to be a part of the solution; creating a greener and more sustainable economy.

Sustainability is no longer just an afterthought in commercial planning. It is now central to operations. This allows businesses to reduce costs, enter new markets and improve their corporate reputation. It affects everyone in a business from the Chief Executive to those on the shop floor.

Companies are looking at ways to cut waste. They are looking to reduce energy usage and source raw materials which improve sustainability. Many businesses are going even further in their commitments, by reusing all waste or backing a global price on carbon, for example. For most businesses, sustainability plans extend beyond their daily operations and into the entire supply chain.

Setting ambitious targets to cut their carbon emissions

All businesses use energy, and manufacturing processes such as melting steel or firing bricks use a significant amount—with the average yearly energy bill for a large industrial user costing almost £10 million.

To mitigate this, many businesses are committed to cutting energy use and setting ambitious targets to reduce their carbon footprint. Some business sectors are aiming to cut their emissions by 81% by 2050.

Building greener homes

Businesses are not only cutting their own carbon emissions but creating the plans and products to build zero-carbon homes.

Homebuilders are using more sustainable materials and innovative products to construct homes that have zero, or even negative carbon emissions. Using cutting-edge energy efficiency measures and harnessing renewable energy, the UK’s housing stock is becoming ever greener.

Helping schools, hospitals and public buildings to reduce carbon

Business is helping to make our public buildings greener by sharing knowledge, skills and resources. Whether this is by educating children on global warming or providing solar panels for schools, programmes like British Gas ‘Generation Green’—which helps over 13,000 schools across the UK by providing classroom resources, education experiences and sustainable energy technologies—contribute towards protecting the environment for future generations.

Innovating to provide low-carbon solutions

Business isn’t taking a back seat in the transition to a low-carbon economy. It’s innovating to give the UK a leading edge by developing technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen power or demand response. The UK has established itself as an attractive place to invest in developing CCS, which is the only way to reduce emissions and keep coal and gas in the UK’s long-term energy mix.

Government is also playing its part. The Scottish government achieved its 50% target of generating half of its electricity demand from clean sources, such as wind power, a year ahead of schedule.

At AnswerConnect we think sustainability is very important and we encourage our associates to sign up to our in-house programme, “SustainableU,” which looks at positive ways each and every one of us can play a part in reducing our carbon footprints and being more local and organic in our food choices.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl

Voicemail or Written Messages…?

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on March 14, 2016 | Categories:


Voicemail

Do Voicemail or Written Messages Work Better for You?

So you have a great new receptionist (or virtual receptionist service!), and now it’s decision time. Do you want your receptionist to take messages, transfer calls to voicemail, or offer callers both options when you’re not available?

Choosing the most efficient way to ensure your messages get to you in a timely, convenient manner is a constant dilemma. Consider the following.

Accessibility

Is it easier for you to listen to voicemail messages or read them on-the-go? It depends on whether you keep your laptop or smartphone handy, and whether listening to a message is a reasonable option.

If you’re a lawyer or solicitor and you are in court, for example, you may not have the chance to listen to voicemail. However,  you can probably access your email and discretely check for new messages. Conversely, if you’re driving, reading an email is definitely not an option, so listening to your voicemail is best.

Detail

Voicemail allows people to talk candidly. If you value that openness, voicemail might be best. On the other hand, if you need to gather a key piece of information from your callers (an email address, for instance), a receptionist can gather and confirm that info each time. People may forget to leave it on voicemail, even if your outgoing message contains a reminder.  

Storage

Generally, an email will be there as long as you want. Most systems can hold a lot of old voicemail before getting bogged down. Having said that, with some smartphones, this involves remembering to “re-save” them, as they will only be saved for 7 days. Sorting and searching is also much easier with email, so it’s a great way to go if you need to hang on to many messages.

Whether your preference is voicemail or written messages, at AnswerConnect we can offer you a wide range of message-taking options that will perfectly match your needs.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.  

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl

How Success Can Be a Disaster!

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on March 10, 2016 | Categories:


Business Disaster

You’re clean through on goal, only the keeper to beat, nailed on to score. You’re all ready to wheel away in ecstasy. Then, from nowhere, disaster strikes, a tug. Your shirt stretches out behind you, momentum interrupted, the moment gone as the keeper gratefully scoops up the loose ball. You’re incandescent!.  And so you should be. In sport, the outrage would be justifiable. But step out of your striker’s boots for a moment….

You are the Chief Executive of an ambitious growing business, and you’ve just been offered a huge sales order. It’s one you weren’t expecting. Your income for the year will go through the roof!

Do you take the order?….Deal or no deal?

Your instincts will, of course, tell you, “Yes. Grab it. You’ll be able to fulfil that order somehow. A bit of extra graft, a few extra hours here and there….”

BUT….

If you haven’t planned for it—or thought through the full implications of saying yes—it could all become a disaster

Overstretching Leads to Disaster

Businesses that fail can often be profitable and growing. Your success can be a disaster. You can sell, sell, sell, but if you haven’t thought through your financial position, you are likely to fail.

You and your business need to be in a ready position to say yes. So how do you do that?

You need a plan and a budget. This plan needs to set out what you are going to sell and to whom, what you need to buy, and who you are going to employ. The plan should also outline what you need in terms of cash-flow and funding.

Getting this right is a challenge for businesses of all sizes. Nobody can predict the future. When reality differs from the plan, good businesses will discern this and make decisions. Where projected sales are less, adjustments to stock levels and spending are obvious. When sales are higher, the levels of working capital needed have to be looked at and adjusted accordingly.

Identifying what your working capital needs are today—or will be in six months or a year—is crucial to having the time to organise funding.

Simply saying “yes” and then muddling on as your under-resourced team flounder isn’t the answer. Your suppliers get upset because they haven’t been paid on time, and your key customer walks away unhappy is a disaster you won’t want to think about.

This is where too many UK businesses fail. Extending more credit to customers cannot be done at the expense of employees or suppliers. When will you get paid is a key question that must be asked. Don’t assume you will get paid the same way as before or, indeed, even at all!

Whether you’re a service-based business, a wholesaler, or a manufacturer, you need to speak to your customers. Our British nature often means we don’t like to demand payment. But it’s hard to stop supplying a good customer isn’t it ?. Wouldn’t that also be a disaster ?.

All business must know who owes them money and monitor payments daily. Someone senior needs to approve all new orders from customers with overdue accounts. Poor excuses should not be tolerated.

Regular management information should include details of the order book. It should also show what is owed to you and how old the debt is, what you owe to your suppliers and a minimum 30 days cash forecast that can predict cash level risk before it becomes an issue.

With modern, affordable technology and accountancy software packages, there’s really no excuse not to capture all the relevant information in an efficient way. Providing you then learn how to use the data at your disposal, or have an advisor on hand, you can be in control and know whether to say “yes.”

Because nobody wants the success to be a disaster!

With Answerconnect at your side, should your business experience a sudden increase in call volumes for any reason, we are a cost effective solution help manage that aspect of your business growth.

AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl

Domestic Services

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on March 8, 2016 | Categories:


Domestic Services

The Domestic Services Industry

The domestic services industry is worth between £3 and £9 billion a year. It is a very competitive market as you are competing against franchise companies and self-starting businesses.

In today’s world we are encouraged to work for ourselves and be a “self-starter.” Many people are doing just that. They are using their initiative to make their skills and abilities work for them, rather than for someone else..

In the most recent boom period up to 2008, many people had a lot of disposable income to spend on domestic services. As the recession started to bite, however, the domestic services market became a much tougher place in which to survive, let alone thrive.

SO….

When you’ve just finished a hard days work are you ready for customers or potential new customers calling you at home at 9, 10 or even 11.00pm ?

How do you perform that delicate balancing act of growing your customer base while keeping regular contact with your existing customers, responding to their needs promptly and preventing them from defecting to your domestic services competition?

How do you make your service stand out from the crowd?….If only you could hire a PA to help share the load. But that is expensive!

Answer- Connect with us!

At AnswerConnect, we provide business support services for all kinds of industries and support for start-ups too!

We can be your virtual office assistant meaning you will never miss a call. We do all this at a fraction of the cost of hiring your own staff.

What we do

  • Answer your calls 24/7/365
  • Employ a highly professional and friendly staff
  • Make diary bookings for you
  • Take messages

We can also assist with dealing with your domestic services suppliers to ensure you always have the materials you need to carry out the services you provide.

Make your domestic services businesss sparkle with AnswerConnect and wipe the floor with your competitors!

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.


Redrafted by Gerry McColl 

Are you an Entrepreneur ?

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on March 4, 2016 | Categories:


Entrepreneur

 

Are you an Entrepreneur ?…How to Come Up With a Business Idea

The UK is rapidly becoming an “Entrepreneur Army”. Over half-a-million start-ups launched in the UK last year, more than 4.5 million people are self-employed, and the number of people taking entrepreneur courses has risen by around 200% since 2014.

With TV programmes such as Dragons Den becoming “must-see” viewing, it’s clear that now, more than ever, the title of ‘entrepreneur’ has become “cool.” But how do you make the dream happen and create a winning business idea?

To help you have that “lightbulb moment,” here are some things to think about to ultimately give you that all-important push to become a cool, start-up entrepreneur.

An Entrepreneur will focus on their interests

Think about your hobbies and passions and how you could mould this into a business idea. How great would it be to turn something you love doing into a successful venture?

For instance, if you’re passionate about keeping fit then you could look at starting a fitness franchise or become a personal trainer. If you’re a keen animal lover, you could start a dog-walking or pet-sitting business.

Have you fallen in love with baking by becoming addicted to The Great British Bake-off ? Then start a cake-making business or open up a cafe. You’ll be surprised just how many ways you can become an entrepreneur.

The possibilities are endless

You could also expand on your interests to start a part-time business such as writing a blog, producing a vlog (video blog), or making money out of Instagram pics and selfies. If you’re a university student, there are number of business ideas you can start while at university such as e-commerce, a social network, or app business.

Build on your knowledge and skills

This might seem pretty obvious but you’re more likely to succeed at something you’re good at. Say you currently work as a web developer or in IT, you could use these skills to start a coding club or consultancy business. Numerous entrepreneurs have found success by building on their skills from a previous job.

Look at business and consumer trends—ask yourself what’s next?

Market research is essential to know if a business idea has legs. By browsing recent analysis of business and consumer trends and expert opinions, you may find a potential business opportunity staring you in the face.

Research the current market and look for ways you could take a market share

Size up prospective markets to see if there is a way to take a piece of the action. For instance, if a certain business is succeeding in London, think about ways you could create a similar business on a regional or even national level.

Reflect on potential solutions that could make your life or the lives of others better

Think about creating a product or service that could actually make a difference, be it big or small. Don’t just think about solutions that would impact you personally, but look at it from the perspective of a mother, father, son, daughter, student and so on.

Look at why you’re thinking of starting a business

  • To escape work and become your own boss?
  • To make money?
  • To help others?
  • To make something a little better, cheaper, faster?

In most cases, you won’t be able to make money straight away. You’ll need to be lean and have a bit of cash behind you as you get the business off the ground. Having a “mission” will give you purpose. Purpose will give you passion. And the combination of passion and purpose in many cases leads to profits.

Consider how you’ll overcome the challenges

Almost half of all UK small business owners admit to having to sacrifice family time, holidays and income to start a business. An eighth say they only have three to four hours of sleep a night.

While starting and running a business can bring you great happiness, independence and profits, you’re unlikely to become the next Sir Richard Branson overnight. You need to think carefully about how you’re going to deal with the obstacles and challenges that starting a business can bring. It is a long journey to become a successful entrepreneur.

Think about what you’ll need in order to start

You might want to start your business from home, or you might want to start your business as a sideline project while you continue work.

Most start-up businesses will need some money to get started. This could be in the form of a bank loan, equity investment, start up loan,  and much more. Alternatively, you could look to secure a government grant.

Here at AnswerConnect we offer support for start-ups by making sure you never miss a call to your business 24/7 and we help keep your costs down by offering a range of pay-as-you-use packages tailored precisely to your needs

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl 

Benefits of Call Recording

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on February 29, 2016 | Categories:


call recording

Understanding your Customers.

Call recording is one of the most effective ways for small businesses to understand their customers. As your business grows and call volume starts to increase, it is almost impossible to keep a note of every detail, issue—or indeed—praise. Different customers have different needs.

Your team will work very hard to resolve issues and will likely use a database or CRM system (which stores customer information) for reference, but even the most sophisticated tool can’t capture every nuance of a conversation.

This is where call recording software can be very useful.

Call recording is one of the most powerful yet under-used tools available to small businesses. As well as helping to train your team, you can use customer calls to improve your sales and marketing strategies.

Here are just 3 ways call recording software can boost your sales figures.

Measure Customer Feelings.

Apart from recording the actual call interaction, a call recording can help you understand the good and the bad of the products, services and communications of your company. The “authentic” feedback you can get from a call recording will help you to understand more about their attitudes, opinions and points of view.

“Real-Time” Feedback.

Listening to your customers is a vital way of improving your business and meeting your customers needs better. It might help you innovate and tailor your offerings more precisely to their needs.

Delegate Confidently.

Some callers will call your company just to learn a bit more about it, rather than buy something straight away. An initial enquiry, handled well, can turn into a sale somewhere further down the road.

Being able to listen to a call recording will help you identify a potential sales lead that a less experienced member of your team might miss. This also frees up more of your time to grow your business, secure in the knowledge that the call recording is there for you to access when you have more time to focus on it.

Of course, as a business, you need to be mindful of the Data Protection act 1988 which stipulates that in order to record a call where a company is able to identify either party involved, it has to:

•    Inform the other party how the recording will be used.

•    Obtain permission for the call to be recorded.

•    Keep the data in a secure location – accessible when requested.

(So if you’ve ever wondered why customer service calls at big companies tell you that “Your call will be recorded for training purposes,” now you know!)

At AnswerConnect you can choose whether you would like us to record your calls for you or not. This is just one example of how we tailor our services to precisely match your needs.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl.

Making Business More Proactive

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on February 26, 2016 | Categories:


Proactive business

The ability to be ‘proactive’ is now a basic requirement looked for by most recruitment agencies. It’s reported that 87% of companies look for this in prospective and existing employees.

Whilst being proactive is important, knowing the right moment to take action is even more valuable.

Personal initiative is a key trait for entrepreneurs, the self-employed and those involved with management. Although this trait is harder to incorporate into the working environment, encouraging this way of thinking will effectively lead to greater results in the workplace.

The most valuable employees are the ones who “make  things happen.” They take control of a situation, instead of waiting for answers to appear. They ARE proactive!

Being proactive is a way of thinking and acting.

It is well known that happy and proactive employees deliver better service, which inevitably leads to better customer loyalty levels. Through increased loyalty, the word-of-mouth marketing generated will help bring in new customers, enhance the reputation of the business and secure future income.

The purpose of measuring productivity within an organisation is to evaluate the efficiency with which inputs are turned into outputs of goods or services.

People who are proactive and show initiative are constantly moving forward, driven by making things happen and actively contributing to the growth of business. Maximising productivity is the key to business success, and technology is the key to achieving this faster and smarter way of working.

Invest in dedicated technologies

These days, we use technology for both work and for play. Many technologies aim to help employees work together in a more effective way. Investing in the right technologies will result in greater productivity, fewer mistakes, greater profits, happy employees and loyal customers.

It’s a win, win, win-win-win situation!

The most common types of technology investments include:

Securing a business network foundation, increasing productivity by the automation of processes, developing new training programmes for employees, and making improvements on existing technologies. The benefits that employees will get when investing in such business technologies include:

  • Being able to make decisions faster and resolve issues more quickly.
  • Working whenever and wherever through the use of real-time applications.
  • Employees being able to amass the right information at any given time (great for out-of-office meetings).
  • Collaborating on projects with other employees without the need for face-to-face interaction.
  • Scheduling meetings and appointments online.

 

Encourage enthusiasm in employees

Technology enhances productivity. However, technology requires input from employees in order to be a success. These employees must gain a proactive skill-set and be able to make conscious decisions to contribute to the long-term goals of the business. Unfortunately you cannot train workplace morale. You can inspire colleagues to push themselves to exceed their potential.

  • Mental readiness – Proactive people are very rarely caught by surprise, as they tend to anticipate when problems are arising. In order to predict future outcomes, employees must understand how the business works by recognising regular routines and daily practices.
  • A mechanism for preventing issues – When challenges approach, employees should take control and confront such obstacles head-on before the problem becomes a disaster.
  • Be a participant – To be a participant, employees should take an initiative and work to be a part of the business success. To do so, they must exert their opinions and make active contributions.
  • A desire for the future – To make the best decisions for the business, employees must understand the long-term goals of the business. What employees do today should be aimed towards ensuring the success of tomorrow.
  • Carry out tasks – Procrastination may be the mother of invention, but is not an option in the workplace. Employees should be decisive, take ownership of their performance and be willing to pull their weight.

 

Be passionate about customer satisfaction

You may have the greatest customer service team in place or the best technology available on the market, but if customer needs are not being met, the reputation of your business will suffer dramatically. Customers expect certain things when they walk into a business, your business must be able to identify those needs to exceed customer satisfaction levels.

Customer service has never been so important, yet many firms seem to have lost sight of their customers’ needs. The quality of your service is largely determined by the perception of your customers. Knowing and managing these expectations is an essential part of your business.

The efficiency of procedures is a huge challenge for many businesses. More often than not, the drive for efficiency threatens customer service levels. These businesses try to keep expenses as low as possible by standardising much of their service delivery as possible, which ultimately results in the loss of custom. Your business must aim to deliver a first class customer service through all mediums.

For example: if you’re not actively available to answer customer telephone enquiries, outsource your calls to AnswerConnects telephone answering service.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl

Phrases That Drive Your Customer Mad!

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on February 23, 2016 | Categories:


mad customer

At AnswerConnect we firmly believe that creating a personal connection with customers is vital to successful businesses.

Most of that connection depends on the use of a warm, friendly tone; the building of rapport and the ability to be on the same level as your customer. A cold tone or a negative phrase can leave a customer frustrated and annoyed and can escalate a situation way beyond the level it should have reached.

Here are a few phrases we think should be avoided at all times:

1) I am only…. At Answerconnect we quickly realised that if our associates tell customers they are “only” the answering service or receptionist, the caller may think the person doesn’t want to take any responsibility or doesn’t care. It also diminishes a very important role in any business organisation.

So instead, let’s concentrate on what you can do, not what you can’t,. Example – “What I can do is take your details and a message and have Mr. Smith call you back as soon as he is available. Would that be helpful?”

2) I don’t know ….Not the answer a customer really wants to hear. They will become frustrated or just hang up when they know their question is absolutely not going to be answered.

Try saying “ Good question, let me find out for you.” Your customer will know that you are interested in them and making sure their question is answered.

3) Please hold …..Ok, so this might not seem like a biggie ! It is better than “Just a minute please,” then disappearing into the ether for whatever reason, but you are still demanding that a customer holds.

Try asking instead, “Would you mind holding for a moment until….” then explain why you are asking them to hold. If your customer knows why they are being asked to hold , they are much more willing to accept this.

4) You’ll have to ……Now that phrase can come across as a very demanding thing to say to your customer. The don’t really like being told what to do.

So, rather than tell them what to do, suggest something by saying, “ The best thing to do is …..” That way you are giving advice and guiding them to the right thing to do. In my experience, customers feel far more valued that way.

So, a few subtle changes in how you talk to your customers makes a massive difference.

At AnswerConnect, we train our associates to these standards so that your callers will always have the most positive experience possible when contacting your company

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.


Redrafted by Gerry McColl

What Kind of Phone Personality Are You?

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on February 19, 2016 | Categories:


Personal Injury

Whether you are a small, medium or large business organisation, every day you have time management issues impacting productivity for everyone: your clients, your customers, your employees and of course, for your company.

Company phone calls are an essential part of running a successful business. The calls can range from new business opportunities all the way to marketing calls that you wish you had not answered.

So, how do you manage that tricky balance of needing time off from the phone without missing important calls?

Having a virtual PA  is definitely a huge step in the right direction. At AnswerConnect, we have a range of options that would fit with any phone personality. We can also answer your calls in the way you prefer.

What do we mean by Phone Personality, you ask ?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you the type of person who likes to become immersed in your work with few interruptions ?
  • Are you a very talkative person ?
  • Do you constantly let calls go to your voicemail ?
  • Are you able to refocus quickly after an interruption ?

Finally, which of the following best describes you;

  • I prefer to take all calls.
  • I prioritise certain calls over others.
  • I’d prefer someone else to answer my calls.

This all helps us understand your Phone Personality, whether you are chatty and engaging or you prefer to return calls when it suits you best. We can build a plan for you and your business based on whether you want us to screen non-value calls,  transfer important calls directly to you, or take messages for you to call back later. We can become your phone personality!

No matter what type you are , it means your callers, customers and potential new clients are all getting to talk to real person first time , every time.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl

Never Miss Another Call

0 comments | Posted by: Gerry McColl on February 17, 2016 | Categories:


Live Answering Service

We’re here to help

Did you know that, according to some consumer report surveys, two-thirds of callers will hang up frustrated if they cannot actually talk to someone?

That’s 66%!!

That is a lot of potential missed opportunities for customers when they need you most and an awful lot of potential missed sales.

At AnswerConnect, our clients trust us to create a positive first impression with every single caller, and we guarantee that 100% of their calls will be answered promptly by our efficient and friendly Customer Experience Associates. You will never miss another call

We appreciate that your office receptionist/PA is not a robot, and have to step away from their desk from time to time. Then there are sick days , holidays , lunch breaks, etc. So sometimes, your callers are left listening to that irritating “There is no-one available to take your call” message.

AnswerConnect doesn’t take days off or coffee breaks. We are never sick or on holiday, so your phones are NEVER left unattended. Day or night , weekday or weekend, every single call will be greeted with a live human being.

Think of it from a customer’s perspective.

When they are looking for a service or product, they will normally have just a few spare minutes in their day to make that phone call. If they can’t speak to anyone , it is very likely they will look elsewhere for that service or product.

Think of the positive impact on your business and customer satisfaction levels if you never miss another call.

When I answer calls, I am constantly told by people that they are so glad they got through to a real person as they have tried such-and-such company and couldn’t get through. We get feedback from our clients thanking us for the part we have played in increasing their sales!

So, what are you waiting for ?. Make sure you never miss another call.

Call AnswerConnect at 0800 802 1609 or register here today to ensure your clients are greeted by capable, responsive professionals 24/7/365.

 

Redrafted by Gerry McColl