Phone Services

DeirdreS

Member
How many of you answer phones for your clients?

And. . . How do you handle the calls?

Do you make yourself available certain hours of the day?

Do you charge per call or the hours you are available?

Do you use something like Ring Central or something else?

Basically I just need to know whether or not I want to take on this responsibility in my business.

Thanks in advance!

Deirdre
Deirdre's Virtual Office
 

virtual writing

New Member
Deidre -
In my opinion, if you are at all willing and able to offer phone services, you should do it because it's not most people's favorite thing to do and you should get a lot of work because businesses need it.

For instance, even though I'm very hungry for work, I do not look at ads that ask for phone services because I know I really don't want to do it. But if you don't mind the idea of earning money that way, I say go for it!

One VA I know is a singer, and loves to talk, and her VA specialty is phone services. She loves her job!
 

kathiemt

New Member
I have offered phone services in the past but it's not my favourite thing. As Mary says, not everyone enjoys doing it. But I can give you some suggestions based on experience.

1. Think carefully about whether you want to be tied to your office all day, every day. If you are providing phone services for other people the expectation will be that you are available all, or most of the time.
2. If you're going to do it for multiple clients, then look into services where you can have several lines installed in your office. I have a mult handset, i.e. it has 4 lines plugged into it without me having to get special hardware installed in the office. This is the one I have (the black one) so perhaps there's something like this where you are.
http://www.drl.com.au/details.asp?ItemID=439&ColorChartID=0&CatID=18
3. Make sure you have a dedicated voicemail message for each line for times when you can't answer the call - you might be on another line, or just out of the office, or it could be when you're in bed at night.
4. Look at your costs - I charged on a per call basis but did my homework and soon worked out that if clients had more than 75 calls a month, it would be cheaper for them to go to a serviced office instead.
5. I recorded all calls received into a spreadsheet and emailed them to clients at the end of each day. These days with text messages clients might prefer to have urgent ones sent to them by that medium.

There are probably other aspects to this but these are the things that I found, with number 1 being the most important. I did not want to be tied down to my office so the lines I have in my office currently are for small businesses that don't have a lot of calls and do not expect me to be here 18/7.
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
I don't provide phone services as a general rule but do screen messages (very rarely) for clients who are on holiday.
In those cases I purchase a Skype-In line local to my client (comes with free voicemail) and then my client forwards their calls to that new number for the duration of their holiday.
I check the messages every few hours - email anything urgent or follow any other specific client requests, sometimes getting back to people (usually by email).

Here's another thread on the same topic that you might find helpful.

If you're going to provide this service you'll have a corner of the market cut out for you, as Mary said - it's a rarely offered service.
 

DeirdreS

Member
Thanks everyone for your responses. I think I'll wait before offering this service. I really don't want to be tied to my phone for several hours a day.

Deirdre
Deirdre's Virtual Office
 

ciboney

New Member
This is one of the services I provide. I basically answer the telephone as specified by the client. Depending on the caller, I transfer the call to the client or take a message which I then email to the client. I only make myself available 8 hours a day for phone services. The answer phone will pick up calls that come in after hours. Because I provide other additional services to clients I do phone services for my billing structure tends to be different from others I know providing the same service. They usually charge per call.

I'd advise you to provide this sort of service only if you like doing that sort of work and will be available to take calls during the hours the phone may ring. I actually like doing this type of work and I'm always in my office during the hours the telephone will ring so this is fine with me.

Hope this bit of info helps.
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Carlana, just curious - how *do* you structure billing for that if it's not per call? Is there a better way to manage that part of it?
 

ciboney

New Member
Tess, I also offer these same clients office management so I don't charge per call. A VA friend of mine offers phone services at $2 per call received and $2 per call made, providing the call does not exceed 4 minutes. If it does she starts charging a few cents per minute.
 
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