Forward-thinking Australian IT companies are embracing a technology-driven, human-centred solution to improve efficiencies, service levels and their bottom line.

By having remote-working receptionist teams answer their phone calls – including scripted provision of Level 1 helpdesk support – technicians can maintain focus on priority tickets while basic troubleshooting is carried out without any need for their involvement.

Almost 500 businesses of all sizes within the ICT industry have already partnered with OfficeHQ, an Australian-owned global leader in virtual reception services.

The majority of the company’s highly professional receptionists are located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

All are employees trained in-house. No contractors are used, and calls are quality-monitored.

Leaving first impressions to the experts

“Any business only gets one chance to make a good first impression and that is the unique job of a receptionist,” said David Atkinson, OfficeHQ’s founder and CEO.

Many IT firms already have a deep understanding of the benefits of outsourcing, from the service provider’s perspective.

In essence, an IT company that outsources call answering to a company such as OfficeHQ is essentially following the lead of their own clients.

Benefits of a 24/7 or after-hours answering service

Just as an IT firm’s clients enjoy myriad advantages by not trying to handle IT functions in-house – such as lower costs, the ability to focus their resources on their revenue-creating core business and increased scalability – outsourcing call answering can pay dividends for companies within the ICT sector.

For example, increased productivity and heightened customer satisfaction from utilising OfficeHQ typically translates into increased client retention rate and, in turn, a higher profit margin.

Especially when you also factor in the cost savings from being able to provide prompt assistance around the clock without the need to roster a staff member on the graveyard shift just in case there’s a support call from a client.

Combatting the tech skills shortage

Australia’s historically low unemployment and well documented tech skills shortage means it’s never been more difficult for IT companies to fill vacancies.

One option is to hire overseas technicians, but that comes with complications.

For many ICT firms, opportunities may exist to:

· Better leverage the talent they already have, by ensuring their teams can concentrate purely on revenue-generating activities

· Upskill and redeploy an employee from a predominantly admin role (such as a receptionist and service desk assistant) into a 100% fulfillment role (such as a Level 2 support officer)

Outsourcing call answering can enable this to occur.

A ‘gamechanger’ for teams of any size

There’s also the peace of mind of not missing new client opportunities or even worrying about the phone being answered – and who will answer it if you don’t have a dedicated receptionist.

Surveys suggest that almost two-thirds of Australians prefer to contact businesses by phone and 92% would rather speak to a real person than leave voicemail. Many prospective customers simply go elsewhere if they hear a recorded prompt, or their call is handled poorly.

It’s therefore business-critical that phone calls are not only answered but managed effectively. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially for small teams.

You want to grow your business and have sales appointments in your calendar, but it's challenging to answer the phone when you're also needing to resolve a priority support ticket pronto.

Even if you have an in-house receptionist, concurrent or after-hours calls are still missed, and you have the stress of providing cover for lunch breaks, sick days and holidays.

This inability to ensure the phone is always answered, or leads are handled properly when it is, can effectively mean expenditure on Google Ads campaigns and other marketing activities is wasted.

In contrast, having a team of receptionists on-call around the clock to answer calls in a timely and professional manner, can make a smaller IT company appear larger and instantly strengthen its credibility.

This can lead not only to more sales appointments being scheduled, but also assist in more prospects being converted into clients.

Along with the receptionists’ ability to filter out telemarketers and book sales appointments, that makes it “a gamechanger”, according to long-term client Karl Graf.

Graf, the managing director of Melbourne app development company DreamWalk, says: “The service was super easy to set up and costs a fraction of what it would to hire a receptionist.”

A tech company at heart

Having been providing and refining its virtual reception solutions for almost two decades, since launching in 2004 with a VoIP platform developed in-house, OfficeHQ is essentially a tech company that leverages the power of human connection to help other businesses thrive.

Receptionists work remotely from home, providing 24/7 coverage, 365 days a year and answering calls in less than 10 seconds on average.

Instant account activation and simple set-up using an online portal means IT firms can have OfficeHQ receptionists answering their calls within just a matter of minutes.

Once set-up, switching the service on is done by the IT company forwarding its business phone number to a unique number provided.

There is even flexibility to send all calls to OfficeHQ or only some calls. For example, when the line is busy or when calls are not answered within a certain timeframe.

OfficeHQ receptionists will know when an incoming call is for a certain business. Their console displays the name of the business they’re representing and that business’s preferred caller greeting before each call drops in, enabling them to provide a seamless caller experience.

Depending on the chosen virtual reception solution, and information that has been provided for receptionists to see on their console, the receptionists can:

· Triage calls and apply different treatment for new client enquiries, non-urgent support requests, urgent support requests and other types of calls

· Take messages (immediately sent by email and/or SMS at the end of the call)

· Transfer calls (when appropriate and settings show availability for transfers)

· Answer FAQs

· Provide Level 1 helpdesk support around the clock

· Raise support tickets or route calls to technicians as necessary (including to a rostered on-call technician after-hours)

· Book appointments in your CRM or preferred calendar software

· Complete calendar management, including handling postponements and cancellations.

When an IT company needs to update settings, or information available for receptionists, they can conveniently do so in real time via the portal or iOS/Android apps.

Top 7 things an IT firm should look for when considering a virtual reception service

Trusting another company to answer your calls is a big step. It’s highly advisable to ensure the following:

1. Receptionists are based in Australia

2. Around-the-clock coverage

3. Fast answering speed (this varies considerably across providers)

4. A dedicated appointment booking team

5. Ability to implement conditional scripting for the provision of Level 1 helpdesk support

6. Flexible PAYG options

7. Industry endorsement

This Sponsored Post is brought to you by OfficeHQ which is currently offering ACS members 10 per cent off its services.