Working from home, or even from a small office has its advantages. However, an expensive PBX phone system is not one of them. In fact, one of the biggest hurdles a start-up faces is how to sound utterly professional when you are faced with challenges like fussy children in your work environment or the fact that the CEO of the company answers the phone at all times.
One way to sound like a million bucks is to outsource your phone answering. Now, some companies will go the route of the live-operator, choosing to have their line answered and directed by a call center.
This option can be quite costly and requires you pay:
- A one-time set up fee
Sometimes this set up fee willa run you as low as $25, but most of them are around $200.
- A monthly fee
Usually under $100, this fee covers the service plan. You’ll get a live operator that answers each call, and depending on the plan you choose, you may be given the option of having the operator 1) take a message or 2) take action on the call (ie a order and payment can be taken) or 3) transfer the call to your cell phone, landline or even specialized voice mailboxes.
- A per-call fee
Most services charge $1 per call, but some give you 25 or so ‘free’ calls in your service plan. Any operator-assisted calls over 25 are charged $1 each.
The live-operator call center is the option to choose if you MUST present a corporate, enterprise-level business environment. However, many businesses just cannot swing the large fees and charges that most call centers require.
A voicemail system may just make more sense for the online small business. These services start as low as $4 per month and offer unique, web 2.0 features that are sure to impress:
- email notifications of voicemails
Some even go so far as to send the audio file of the voicemail to your email inbox. This can be very convenient.
- call forwarding
One ‘extra’ service many of these companies offer is the ability to ‘press one to leave a message for sales’ or whatever department they need.
You can, literally, get calls in the car, while golfing or even via your email client on your PDA. This one feature has saved me a great deal of time and stress.
- login interface
For easy customization of your preferences, you can choose a site that offers an easy and robust interface for changing your voicemail. Being able to change the voicemail, yourself, makes things so much easier.
Voicemail and live operator call centers can bring a healthy dose of professionalism to your small business. Take a look at these smart ways to manage your phone calls.