Have you thought about using a call answering service but didn’t think you were a big enough company to justify the cost? Yep, I thought that too. But it’s actually far more cost-effective than I realised.

Let’s look at how I spend my day

The vast majority of my working day is spent focusing on client work (aka – the billable stuff that keeps a roof over my head).

And because the vast majority of us are now in agreement that multi-tasking is utter codswallop, I only ever focus my time and attention on one client at any one time. You see, research states that it can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain full focus following just one interruption.

To do this well, I use a variety of tried and tested techniques:

  • Time blocking my diary by trying so I know which client I’m supporting and when.
  • Pop-up reminders on both my phone and laptop (I use Checker Plus for Google Calendar) to remind me when to switch focus and what I need to ticking through on my to-do list (I use Todoist Premium).
  • Keeping my phone on silent at certain times to enable deep focus work without interruptions.
  • A 99p egg timer to put Parkinson’s law (“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”) into full effect and keep me on track.

That sure as hell surprised me. I mean, I am fully aware it can take a *bit* of time to get back on track after taking an unscheduled phone call, but 23 mins? I was shocked.

When I charge my clients by the hour, it didn’t seem fair for them to pay (literally) for the 23 mins it would (allegedly) me to regain my focus following every interruption.

Taking action

I knew I needed to take action, but I wasn’t quite sure of the right way to go about it.

I decided to change my voicemail and I recorded a personalised greeting. It went a little like this:

“Hi! You’re through to Victoria. My office hours are 9am until 3pm, Monday to Friday, and I keep my phone on silence when I’m focussed on client work, so I’m I missed your call. Leave a message….”

You get the idea.

But then I discovered that some technophobic gremlins lived in my phone because any voicemail messages were coming through days after they’d actually been left.

Gah.

NOT good.

So I decided to tweak the personalised voicemail greeting:

“… But DON’T leave me a voicemail message because…err….”

And it was then that I realised how utterly long, ridiculous and BORING the message had become. It was the exact opposite of the professional image I work hard to convey.

Coming up with a solution

I didn’t want to be interrupted by the scheduled calls but I also needed clients to feel fully supported – that I was accessible to them, not avoiding them.

And I didn’t want to have to keep taking the time to re-record my voicemail greeting every time I went to a meeting, event or took a day off.

Cue lightbulb moment

I remembered an old client who’d introduced me to his call answering service, but I had pretty much written off the idea because I assumed it would be too expensive, or that my call volumes were too low.

Ta-da! Cue using a call answering service that creates a seamless extension of my business.

I am now fully supported by an uber professional and amazingly friendly call handling company here in the UK. I can divert my phone to them whenever I need them, and it means a client call never goes unanswered or to the black hole that seems to be my voicemail. Instead, messages are taken and emailed to me, along with an actual recording of the call so I can check on the quality (which I’m always more than happy with).

What works for me *might* not work for you

Disclaimer: my business model means that clients know that my phone will be on silent while I focus on deep work. Most of my clients never call anyway as all correspondence is via email. But on the off-chance they do, I am safe in the knowledge that they’ll speak with a human who’ll get their message to me (urgent or otherwise) straight away.

The best bit…

If there is a full-blown emergency (and I mean life or death here), the call answering service also has a private number that they can contact me on.

Before I used the call answering service, I honestly felt constantly guilty – guilty about missing an incoming call while in a meeting, guilty when the client forgot I was on holiday and so I didn’t answer my phone, guilty about everything. To me, answering telephone calls promptly is pivotal to excellent customer services, and I couldn’t do that on my own. Now I feel like I can continue to provide great customer service because I can divert my calls to them whenever I need their seamless back-up behind the scenes.

Can a call answering company help you?

If you’d like me to introduce you to my call answering team please do drop me an email and I’d be happy to do that for you. There’s even a seven-day freebie trial which I think you’ll love.

Five out of five stars from me. I wouldn’t run my business without them.