Customer Service Advice from 17 Small Business Consultants

Jul 11, 2018 by

 

That’s right! Here’s a treasure trove of customer service knowledge from 18 leading consultants, from accounting wizards to content-creating wordsmiths. We asked each of them to weigh-in on the topic of customer service and communication, and each of them delivered with a unique perspective. Topics range from clever branding to enhancing responsiveness across channels of communication to just shutting up and listening to customers. Read up!

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What are Virtual Receptionists? The PATLive Guide

Jun 26, 2018 by

 

You might’ve heard the term “virtual receptionist” before, and it’s not immediately clear what exactly they are or what purpose they serve. Are they robots? Do they sit in the corner of your office, beeping like the Jetsons’ robot maid? (We’ll get that one out of the way now—no.) If you don’t know what a virtual receptionist is, why would you hire their services for your business? In the very simplest terms, virtual receptionists answer your phones remotely. But there’s so, so much more. We’re here to clear all of that up for you: we’ll explain what a virtual receptionist is, what they can do for your business (a lot!), and why it’s important that every phone call that comes in to your business gets answered.

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Here’s Why Every Home Service Business Needs an Answering Service

May 24, 2018 by

If you own a home service business, this one’s for you.

For most home service businesses, phone calls are the single greatest source for new customers. If your sink is spewing gallons of water all over the kitchen or you just discovered a termite infestation, you’ll probably pick up the phone rather than waiting for a response to an email. Given the recent uptick in mobile searches and search engines offering click-to-call directly from search results, this is perfectly logical and convenient. It stands to reason, then, that if you’re the business receiving those calls, and you take your business seriously, answering every single call is high on your priority list. You might even think you do a pretty good job of it! Unfortunately, new data suggests that might not be entirely true.

According to a report from ServiceDirect, the know-it-alls of online advertising, there’s a lot home service professionals don’t know about their telephone usage. They analyzed 2017 call data across 42 home service categories, focusing on three key metrics:

  • Call Answer Rate: The number of phone calls the business answered as a percentage of total phone calls received;
  • Lead Capture Rate: The number of phone calls during which contact information was collected as a percentage of the total number of answered calls;
  • Appointment Booking Rate: The number of phone calls during which an appointment was scheduled as a percentage of the total number of answered calls.

What they found was somewhat surprising, starting with:

You might be missing more calls than you think.

Every missed call is a missed opportunity, especially when most of your potential new clients will reach out via phone. This is precisely why this first statistic is so important. When surveyed, home service professionals estimated, on average, that their call answer rate sits somewhere around 97%. Their actual answer rate? 66%. In other words, you might be missing up to one-third of your phone calls without ever knowing it.

Fret not. There’s an easy fix.

If you think you might be experiencing a similar disconnect, there’s a simple solution: Consider hiring an answering service to answer your calls. According to this report, answering services kept an answer rate of 99% as well as a lead capture rate of 86% (again, this means that the answering service collected contact information for 86% of the calls they answered). Not surprising, as it’s their sole purpose. In-house staff, on the other hand, had a lead capture rate of 75%.

The cost of hiring a high-quality answering service might seem like an unnecessary expenditure at first, but you might reconsider when you do the math: If the average home service job costs $450, your answering service will pay for itself if it brings you even one new client a month—and we’re willing to bet it can do more than that. If these numbers are anything close to how your business operates, you’re hurting your business by continuing to answer your own phone. Many answering services will even start you off with a free trial, so it won’t cost you anything to give it a shot.

To recap: You might be missing more calls than you think. Most, if not all, of your business will come to you through the phone, so you’ll see more clients coming in if you take measures to ensure every call gets answered. We didn’t spoil it all, though: Read the entirety of the ServiceDirect report here.

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PATLive Now Integrates with Clio and Lexicata. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Apr 3, 2018 by

 

We’re thrilled to announce PATLive’s newest integrations with two of the most widely-used legal management softwares on the market, Clio and Lexicata, . Both systems are designed to streamline and simplify the management of your law practice. In the hands of PATLive’s virtual receptionists, they’ve better than ever. Here, we’ll show you exactly what you can accomplish with these tools in your arsenal.

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The Case for Omnichannel Support: a Conversation with LiveChat, Inc

Feb 15, 2018 by

 

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“Customer expectations are at an all-time high.  Every time someone goes to a coffee shop and gets a work of art drawn into the foam of their drink, it gets shared all over to the point where maybe it isn’t good enough to just make a decent latte anymore.”

-Dave Mason, PATLive

 

The ways customers engage with businesses today are more numerous and personalized than ever. In the past, small businesses stood apart from larger competitors by their ability to deliver a unique, human service experience. Since consumers’ preferred channels of communication have, rightfully, become almost entirely based in technology, that advantage has shifted to larger businesses who are able to provide omnichannel service. As a result, small businesses have adjusted their budgeting habits to account for a consumer base that now expects businesses to interact and provide service far beyond that of a phone call.  

If you haven’t heard of LiveChat, Inc, you’ve almost certainly come across their service.

LiveChat, launched in 2002, was one of the first companies to offer a comprehensive way for businesses of all sizes to instantly communicate with customers online. You might’ve noticed more chat boxes popping up with a message like, “Have any questions? We’re here to help!” on  the homepages of all kinds of websites. That might just be one of the Polish company’s 23,000 customers. I, for one, am all for it—I haven’t called my bank in at least two years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Check out LiveChat’s case study on PATLive here.  

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How to Drive More Phone Calls to Your Law Firm’s Website

Jan 15, 2018 by

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The day-to-day grind of a law practice is grueling enough for anyone. With current clients taking up your time, it can be easy to forget to continue optimizing your marketing efforts. There are, however, a few quick ways to make sure you’re on the right track. If you’re a law firm looking to grab a few new clients, you’re in luck. We’ve outlined three steps for ramping up client intake from your website that are super simple, but easily overlooked.

First, your site has to get noticed by standing out among your competitor’s sites. Once they’re there, your site has to convince them to give you a call. Then, of course, you have to be prepared to promptly answer every call that comes your way to get the client.

1. Get noticed

76 percent of consumers search online when looking for a lawyer.

It goes without saying that if your firm can’t be found from an online search, you’re depriving yourself of the biggest opportunity for new business. Word of mouth is undeniably powerful, but simply doesn’t allow the scope of the all-encompassing Google search. Therefore, making sure search engines favor your firm is essential.

There are two main ways to accomplish this:

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10 Super Simple Ways to Make Your Customers Holly Jolly this Holiday Season

Nov 15, 2017 by

10 Super Simple Ways to Make Your Customers Holly Jolly This Holiday Season Family Window Shopping in the Cold

There may be no greater miracle than getting through the holidays in one piece.

Between the stress over finding the right gifts, all of the events, the endless line of treats (delicious, delicious treats) and the rush to ingest it all within the span of two months – it’s a wonder we get through the season with little more than angst.

From a business perspective, the months of November and December should be seen as a huge customer service opportunity. Based on the fact that egg nog, sweaters with dickies and getting the third degree from every family member can produce so much consternation, why not make things as easy as possible for your customers during the holiday season?

There are some simple actions you can take to create a customer service experience that will leave their hearts all aglow. Here 10 ways you can create a magically easy experience for your customers during the holidays.

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5 Lessons I Learned While Following Shep Hyken on Twitter

Oct 24, 2017 by

Shep Hyken Five Lessons I learned while following shep hyken on twitter

Customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, is doling out tons of actionable (and free) advice right on Twitter.

I’ll admit that when I accepted my position at PATLive, I knew very little about customer service. Beyond the niceties that are practically baked-into my southern upbringing, I had never really considered service as anything beyond thanking the customer as you hand them their fries.

With a whole blog and social media accounts to manage, I needed inspiration (and tons of research) to get my creative juices flowing.

That’s when I stumbled onto Shep Hyken’s Twitter account. And the NYT Best-Selling Author did not disappoint.

The content he writes is astute and helpful–the kind of content you can actually use and apply to your business. He has a slough of quality content right at the touch of your fingertips: guest blogs, videos, podcast episodes, DVDs, an app, plus a handful of books.

In addition to his content, he’s incredibly engaging on social media. Go ahead and ask him for advice! He will chime in with some sage words. Want to know where to get the best toasted raviolis in St. Louis? Ask him! He’s local. He’ll tell you.

I’m no business owner–it’s true. But I am writer who focuses on customer service and experience, and Shep has taught me a lot about the industry.

Ready to see what all the hype is about? Here are five valuable lessons I learned while following Shep Hyken on Twitter.

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Read if You Dare: The Most Dreadful Customer Service Stats of All Time

Oct 13, 2017 by

Scared Man covering his mouth the most dreadful customer service stats of all time

There’s no stopping it: bad customer service is everywhere.

Even worse is that customers have a very low bar for what equates good service; a scant one percent of customers feel that their expectations of good customer service are always met. And yet businesses still miss the mark.

We all know that a great customer experience is a brand differentiator. When you want to set your business apart from the competition, it’s important to inform yourself of the most appalling business practices.

We’re here to help you do just that.

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