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For many business ideas, it’s important to be easily accessible and to appear professional on the phone. Yet you are busy with all of your startup activities, and you might even be juggling working in your old profession. So, it can be beneficial if someone takes calls and handles correspondence for you, so that you don’t have to be available continually and can concentrate on other tasks. There are secretarial services, virtual assistants, and call centers.
Your task today:
Have a look at the providers in the different categories and consider if and when you need them. Think about which services will help you concentrate on the tasks that are important to you. Be sure to test the service providers. Most of them offer a non-binding and free test phase. Feel free to test one, even if you don’t (yet) need any services, just to get a feeling for what is possible today for little money and in high quality, to make your life easier and save a lot of time and money.
It’s practical for many startups to have a virtual secretary who takes calls and passes on information when you’re not available yourself.
You can also find suitable providers at www.how-employees-startup.com/virtuelles-buero. There are different price scales, e.g., from $50/month or $.50 per minute.
Virtual secretaries is a fantastic invention because you can get started quickly for little money and still appear professional. They provide you with a telephone number and, if required, an address where you and “your office” can always be reached.
Let’s assume you are Hans Meyer, and your company is called “Sun Consulting.” If a customer calls “you,” a member of the virtual office (“vOffice”) answers in a professional and friendly voice:
vOffice: “Good afternoon, Sun Consulting, Patricia Miller speaking. What can I do for you?”
Caller: “Uh, hello, is Mr. Meyer available?”
vOffice: “Oh, I am sorry. Mr. Meyer is in a meeting right now. Can he call you back?”
Caller: “Yes, gladly. My name is Peter Schmidt, and my number is …”
vOffice: “Thank you very much, Mr. Schmidt. Could you tell me briefly what this is about? Then I’ll let Mr. Meyer know.”
Caller: “Yes, it’s about a potential consulting assignment in the XXXX area, and we would like to receive an offer.”
vOffice: “All right, Mr. Schmidt. I’ll take care of it. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Caller: “No, thanks, that’s it. Goodbye. ”
vOffice: “Goodbye, Mr. Schmidt, and have a nice day!
Mr. Schmidt hangs up and thinks: “Wow, I’d love to have a competent and friendly assistant like Mr. Meyer’s. He must be busy and seems well organized. ”
One minute later, you’ll receive Mr. Schmidt’s contact details and his request via the provider’s app. You can then decide if and when you want to call him back yourself or if you want to delegate the call back to the virtual office, to your virtual assistant (see below), to your colleague, etc.
Many service providers also offer you official postal addresses, if required, in well-known locations that stand for exclusivity (e.g., Silicon Valley or New York´s financial district). In addition, you can rent offices and meeting rooms of various sizes by the hour if required.
If virtual secretarial services and offices are new to you, the next one may leave you speechless. For little money, you can hire a personal assistant who can organize and take care of all sorts of things for you via phone, mail, and the Internet. These so-called “virtual assistants” live and work in countries where wages are significantly lower than in Europe or North America, such as India, China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, etc. Here you can get well-qualified people for $5 to $10/hour for tasks that you do not want to or cannot do yourself. However, the most important thing is that you explain the job well and do a few test-runs with your potential assistant before engaging them for a more extended period and giving them more responsibility.
A list of virtual assistant providers can also be found at: www.how-employees-startup.com/virtuelles-buero.
You can hire a particular person, with the advantage that you get to know each other better, who will be familiar with your requirements. You can also hire a team, with one person as your contact, who will delegate the task to different people on their team. The disadvantage is that it may be a little more expensive, and the quality of the results may vary depending on the person. The advantage, however, is that you don’t suddenly have to look for a new assistant if yours is unable to work or changes jobs, which can happen quickly in such countries.
You don’t have to worry about being morally reprehensible with the relatively low hourly wage. These jobs are much more attractive by local standards than other jobs. As a result, labor costs increase over time, so you are actually helping rather than harming the positive income development in these countries.
For some business models, it’s essential that customers can reach you at any time. You’ll hardly want to set up and operate your own call center for this purpose, so here too, you’ll fall back on a service provider who offers you everything from a single source. There’s a distinction between active (outbound: the call center initiates the call) and passive (inbound: the call center answers the call).
Call centers are particularly useful for the following tasks:
- Information purposes – as a hotline for product information
- Customer service and complaint management
- Market research
- Sale with conclusion of contract
- Order and order acceptance
- Emergency services
You can also find providers for call center services at: www.how-employees-startup.com/virtuelles-buero.