Mind Your Business: Responding to Falling Call Volume

By Steve Michaels

Q. Over the past few months, my call volume has dropped due to the economy. Is there anything I can do?

A. You could think of your business like a well-run assembly line. When times are good, you need more workers to assemble the parts as they go down the line. You need technicians to maintain the equipment, oiling it properly, and keep it running smoothly at high speeds. But when the assembly line slows down, you do not need as many assembly line workers or support staff, to keep it properly functioning.

Our economy is slowing down, and in order to maintain profitability at your call center, you need to slow down as well. Here are some considerations:

First, look at the most important piece of your assembly line: labor. Are you overstaffing, or are you staffing more economically but within reason so as to not affect your quality of service?

Second, consider a lower rate structure for clientsthinking about canceling. Offer them an auto-attendant with operator revert, or even straight voicemail – anything to retain them.

Third, be willing to negotiate your clients’ monthly charges. Remind them that their phones need to be answered. If they have to layoff their receptionist, you will be there to answer their calls. You may want to offer them a charge per call. Be creative and flexible.

Fourth, you may now want to consider remote agents, such as for the third shift. This reduces offices expenses, like heat and electricity, along with other costs associated with operating an office 24/7.

Fifth, scrutinize all expenses, reducing or eliminating whatever you can, which will improve your bottom line.

Finally, as a business owner, you need to sit down and start answering calls yourself or even take over the midnight shift. Answering calls will enable you to feel the actual pulse of your business and your customers. Perhaps new ideas will be generated from this experience that will help you through this burdensome time. By thinking outside the box – or off the assembly line – you may be able to come up with some new and better solutions for adjusting to our economic times that will profit you in the future.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions.

[From Connection Magazine December 2008]

Learn more about the Telephone Answering Service Industry.

How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PdH
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