How live operators optimize operations

By |  August 8, 2018
Photo: iStock/briana.jackson

Photo: iStock/briana.jackson

Owners of small pest management firms have a lot on their plates. Not only are they helping out their customers with pest control, but they also are running their businesses themselves.

While some businesses do well using an answering machine or voicemail on the owner’s cell phone, there is debate on whether letting the phone ring and picking up the call later is the way to go. Although the call will get picked up later, pest control tends to be an urgent need — at least in the mind of the caller.

Overhead can be a factor in why you don’t already have a receptionist answering calls 24/7, and work/life balance can play a role in why you don’t want to answer every call to your cell phone. Here are three reasons why you should find room in your budget to hire a live person to answer your pest control calls, even after business hours:

1. A live operator can respond to urgent pest emergencies. A missed call can be a missed opportunity. Although current customers may be calling because they need to schedule their next pest management service for simple upkeep, prospects may be calling frantically to get rid of a newly discovered termite infestation, for example.

These types of urgent calls need to be answered and addressed immediately. If the call goes to voicemail, the prospective customer just might call the next pest control provider on his or her list.

2. Voicemail cannot answer questions. Besides handling urgent calls, a live person answering the phone can field questions from the customer, thereby giving the caller peace of mind in a situation. The operator also can explain important and helpful information regarding a pest problem, based on the resources you provide. Your receptionist does not have to be trained in pest control to be able to help a caller. Often, it is enough for the person who answers the phone to be able to convey empathy for the callers’ situations, and reassure them they are in good hands and will have their problems solved by a trained and experienced technician. If nothing else, just hearing “I do not know, but I will find out” or “I do not know, but I will have someone contact you in the morning who does” can go a long way toward customer good will.

3. A live operator shows you care about the local people you serve. When a caller gets in touch with an actual person at your pest management business, as compared to a competitor’s, you now have the ability to get an appointment scheduled, questions answered, and perhaps gain a loyal customer.

Each call offers an opportunity to create a new and lasting relationship with a customer in need of pest control. Pests always will be around, so answering calls with a real, live voice on the other line puts you ahead of your competition.

Tips for ‘answering the call’

Don’t lose prospective customers who prefer not to leave a voicemail. Check out these tips for making sure customers will be confident you can help solve their pest problems.

Have a dedicated receptionist during stated business hours, period. If your website says you are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then someone should be ready to answer the phones during this time. No exceptions!

Hire an after-hours receptionist. Having someone answer after-hours calls ensures you can still offer help and schedule appointments even if your business is closed. This is lower priority compared with having someone available during business hours, but if your budget allows, it is a great way to handle those high-urgency, after-hours callers.

Offer an alternative way to get in touch. On your company website, offer a form customers can fill out that is emailed directly to those in charge (this should be done as a matter of course anyway, to capture more tech-savvy prospects that prefer email over phone). Alternatively, look into an affordable answering service. Having a live person take a message, even if it’s an answering service, is still better than voicemail.

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