Over the past few weeks I’ve been consulting with a potential client who owns an e-commerce business. Together, we were able to determine that an answering service is not a good fit for his business at this time.
This decision was primarily based on a very basic cost-benefit analysis in which we considered 3 factors.
- First, we identified the client’s main objective. He wanted to provide 24-hour order assistance for his online business. Basically, our service would make live agents available 24/7/365 to assist his clients with placing orders for items that are being sold via his website. Initially, we took a close look at his average profit and compared it to the cost of providing live agent answering; we realized that his calls could not last more than 5 minutes or he would risk losing money every time a live agent answered for him.
- Next, we were able to identify the average length of time it would take to place an order. Every call would require very close to the same amount of information to complete an order regardless of the number of items actually being ordered. It was apparent that if an order was for $25 or less, there would not be enough profit in the transaction to cover the cost of the live agent. Unfortunately, as order takers, our agents cannot control the size of an order, so there would be no way to ensure that each order was large enough to cover live answering costs.
- Finally, we were able to identify the standard type of customers who would be calling to place orders. The customers who typically call are not tech savvy individuals and, therefore, would generally require a great deal of time to provide the information necessary to complete an order. So, even with streamline ordering procedures in place, it would be difficult for our live agents to guide these callers through the order process quickly.
My potential client realized that, even though he hated to miss out on potential business, it was the best decision to move forward with online ordering only. And, while he truly understands that his level of customer service is not where it needs to be in order to fit all of his customers’ needs, it isn’t cost-effective for him to provide live answering services to his clients, yet.
On the upside, he’s identified the type of customers who tend to place orders and he was able to make a sound business decision based on this information. I am confident that as his business grows he will eventually look to AnswerFirst to help him provide the level of service that accurately reflects the quality of product that he provides.
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