By Reginald Tucker – Carlos Castro, owner-operator of Connecticut-based Hartford Carpet Cleaning, is very busy these days. Like so many professional service providers who work overtime and run their own businesses while spending most of their waking hours in the field applying their trade, Castro needed an effective solution to the challenge of cutting the barrage of phone calls from potential keep track of customers.
In most cases, callers wanted to make arrangements to have Castro come to their home to provide estimates for carpet cleaning and other home-related power wash services. Initially, he handled most of those incoming calls himself, but it became too time-consuming to manage effectively. His search for a solution brought him into contact with Smith.ai, a company that specializes in 24/7 virtual receptionists and instant messaging.
“Smith.ai offers a service where they pick up the phone for me if I can’t get to it in 20 seconds — or if I wanted to, I could have all my calls go directly to them,” Castro said. “The way I set it up is to get my clients on my schedule. So if a customer calls and she wants to know what my prices are, Smith.ai will open my scheduling app and see my prices; if the customer accepts, they put her on the schedule.”
Another benefit for Castro, who has been using Smith.ai’s services for a little over a year now, is the ease with which it integrates with his existing office programs. “I’ve been very lucky with Smith.ai,” he told FCNews. “It’s a game changer.”
The Hartford Carpet Cleaning experience is a real-life example of how small businesses can better use this type of technology to perform basic, yet essential business functions. “We help busy, small businesses—mostly service-oriented businesses—to respond faster,” said Maddy Martin, vice president of marketing at Smith.ai. “Our services also help clients capture more of their customers’ lifetime value, which they’ve worked so hard for to win business continuously – not just once, but continuously.”
More importantly, Smith.ai ensures the “quality” of every customer interaction by treating every incoming call as a pre-qualified lead. “It’s not as simple as taking a message or transferring a call – it’s much more complicated,” explains Martin. “If you only have a service-answer call in front of you, you won’t get ahead with that conversation. We help our clients find the best potential clients so they can pick the best jobs when they’re busy.”
In this capacity, Smith.ai acts as a sort of “gatekeeper”. For any small business that matures into their business model, Martin says, there comes a turning point where they realize they need to get their operations in order so that they become a more “systems oriented” business as opposed to the traditional high-touch traditional business model.
“Smith.ai customers know that they now have people, software, and other tools and processes that allow them to function without being in person all the time,” she said. “We unburden the internal teams of customers, who often have to perform many more high-quality tasks on a daily basis. We can take care of those routine chores and tasks for them.”
An extension of the team
Actually, one of the most impressive aspects of the technology Smith.ai uses is a feature that is largely invisible to the caller – and it was designed that way. For example, during an incoming call, a customer is at no time aware of the fact that the contractor, installer or retailer may be using a virtual receptionist.
“We strive to appear as internal staff for a particular company,” explains Martin. The trick, she said, is to work with clients to learn the nuances of a particular company. “In floors, there are common scenarios that entrepreneurs encounter,” Martin added. “Whether it’s an installation or a planning for a residential or commercial project, our receptionists determine the nature of that call and how best to push that call to a specific team, department or individual so that they are answered correctly. completed.” That’s why Smith.ai spends so much time with an owner/operator up front to learn as much as possible about his/her business. This way, Smith.ai reps are better equipped to navigate the conversation when the phones start ringing.
“If it’s a new lead or an existing customer, the caller can ask for their account manager, project manager, or their preferred salesperson,” explains Martin. “In any scenario, we need to be able to speak the language of the company and then determine whether a request is an upgrade call, a complaint or an issue – and then make sure the right person gets that information. Whether it’s a chat tool or any other message that requires immediate notification, we have the ability to reach owners wherever they are, especially if they want to be kept informed at all times.”
In today’s business environment where finding qualified/available employees can be challenging, the need for employees who can provide essential office functions is critical. This is especially the case in companies that rely heavily on efficient and professional customer interactions. For some businesses, virtual reception/chat services can provide a bit of a stopover until companies feel more comfortable re-hiring on a large scale.
“Retail businesses are growing, but they are growing very thoughtfully and carefully in a way that doesn’t hold them back from obligations,” explains Smith.ai’s Martin. “Many companies are currently hesitant to hire staff, and many are not making the same long-term investment in staff as they have in the past.”
Meanwhile, many Smith.ai customers find that the solutions offered are more than adequate. “With Smith.ai, I don’t have to speak to all my customers,” says Castro of Hartford Carpet Cleaning. “I would recommend them to anyone who could use this service.”
The post Smith.ai helps busy businesses answer the call appeared first on Floor Covering News.