• Clare M

Mums in Business

How virtual receptionist services help mums juggle running a business and motherhood.

Perhaps ignoring the ill-chosen role model of Wonder Woman as a UN honorary ambassador, it is cheering to see more attention now being paid to the empowerment of women and the important contribution of female entrepreneurs. The launch of an investment platform specifically for female-led companies, the growing number of Muslim women starting their own business, and research showing a rosy outlook for female-owned micro-businesses all bear testament to this.

As a co-owner of Office Answers, I understand the challenges that women face when they’re starting a business, particularly juggling the demands of a small family and avoiding the work:life balance getting out of kilter.Ironically it was the virtual receptionist and telephone answering services that Office Answers specialises in that really helped in those early days back in 2004 when our children were aged just six and four.

Here are three scenarios where we (and our customers) benefited from having a virtual receptionist service.

The known challenges, most notably the daily school run

Imagine the scene: the clock’s ticking towards school home time, Ian is out at a meeting and the office phone doesn’t show any signs of quietening down.  For us, it was a no-brainer to have our phone automatically switch to being answered by one of our team of live receptionists at set times when we knew we would be doing the school run. That way, we knew callers would have the reassurance of having their calls answered professionally and appropriately, while we would have messages sent to us immediately so we could return the call as soon as possible.

The unplanned challenges – sickly children

The phone goes and it would be school saying one of the kids was off-colour.  Immediately, the plan for an orderly day of business was thrown into chaos as we picked up and returned with the sickly one, knowing that answering customer calls was going to be tricky.  Here, it was simply a case of calling our virtual receptionist team and advising them to ask callers for specific additional information such as an email address so we could get back to them via email later that evening if we were unable to answer their enquiry via phone during working hours.

Having this at our disposal was pure gold I can tell you!

Mobile phones and nativity plays just don’t mix!

At certain points we needed to shift heaven and earth to ensure we were there for those significant moments such as the nativity play! During those moments we wanted to simply enjoy the experience knowing that our customers would be receiving a polite message from a virtual receptionist advising them when we would get back to them.

Yes, I hear you say, for all of the above there’s always the trusted divert to the mobile phone but knowing how many times I was desperately trying to get to the school on-time, it would be the last thing I’d think of doing each day.

Of course, there’s always the option of letting the answerphone just do its stuff but this isn’t entirely satisfactory as it can compromise your professionalism. Perhaps that doesn’t matter if your clients all know you well and are relaxed about leaving a message, but for new callers it could be off-putting and could result in them ringing one of your competitors instead.

If you feel you don’t need to go the whole hog of using a virtual receptionist service, a professional telephone answering system may suffice. For this, callers hear a professional recording and can leave a message that is transferred immediately to your laptop and mobile via an email and text when you can’t reach the phone.  It can also handle calls differently depending on the time of day, so all business calls can go to voicemail after a set time each afternoon.

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