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This is a guest post by Kelsey Johnson of Smith.ai

Professionals offer a valuable service to clients: whether you offer legal services, home services, real estate, or one of the millions of other services out there — you are fulfilling a societal need. 

But, as we all know, running a business is much more than just offering that service. Did you ever imagine there would be so much administrative work? An immigration lawyer who went to law school to help people in need never thought that they’d spend half their day answering phones, chasing down bills, following up with leads, and logging client data. 

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. This extra admin work usually leads to small business owners working far more than 40 hours a week just to catch up — hours that are unpaid.

The fact of the matter is that you have to answer incoming calls in order to bring in more business and keep your current clients happy. You have to send out and chase down invoices to get paid. And you have to book meetings to connect with and convert clients. These are essential parts of running your business.

What’s the key to getting everything done (and still having a life)? The perfect combination of outsourcing and technology. But beware of jumping into tech solutions, assuming they’ll fix what are actually process problems.

Here’s where to start: take a look at the tasks you do on a daily basis. Not just the services you provide — but the necessary administrative tasks you do as well, such as answering calls, invoicing, emails, and marketing tasks.

Then, put these tasks into The Eisenhower Matrix to determine which tasks need your urgent and undivided attention and, more importantly, which ones don’t.

Let’s start with answering calls and scheduling meetings — likely something that takes up more time during your week than you think.

How to reduce the time you spend on calls with new customers

Where in The Eisenhower Matrix do we put incoming calls — you know, the ones always interrupting you in the middle of a thought, task, or project? 

Calls from new potential customers fall into the “urgent, but not important” segment of the matrix. Don’t get me wrong: The prospect may be very important, but personally answering their call on the spot is not. 

So it’s time to delegate: Have someone else handle these first calls so you can have the time to buckle down and get some work done. You can delegate to a personal receptionist if you have one. If you don’t, try a virtual receptionist service instead.

What is a virtual receptionist?

Virtual receptionists are real people who answer business calls as a service. Unlike a simple call center, these receptionists are hired with phone support experience and backed by technology that that enables them to handle calls like a member of your staff would. And you can delegate calls to them at a much lower cost than hiring an in-house receptionist.

But your virtual receptionists do so much more than answer and transfer calls: they use your existing technology to qualify and intake new leads, answer frequently asked questions, fill out lead intake forms, schedule appointments, take payments for your business, and log calls in your CRM — all at a low flat rate.

How to reduce the time you spend on scheduling consultations and meetings

Booking appointments, consultations, and meetings is another task that can be surprisingly — and unnecessarily — time consuming. But, according to the Eisenhower Matrix, you should schedule meetings with callers rather than take them on the spot. These meetings are considered “important, but not urgent”.

So set up your Woven scheduling platform with your Google calendar to create a link where anyone can schedule meetings on your calendar. Give yourself buffer times around your meetings if you need them; I always recommend a couple of “focus timeframes” each week for uninterrupted deep work time.

Once you have your scheduling link set up, you can use it everywhere you might need to schedule new appointments: your website, emails, intake forms, advertising, and by giving it to the person taking your incoming calls.

How to use your scheduling link with a virtual receptionist service

Okay, you’ve got your Woven link set up and you signed up with a receptionist service. Using them together is fairly simple: Send the link to your receptionists with instructions on booking appointments. 

There are a couple of best practices to keep in mind when having a receptionist schedule appointments for you, such as:

Qualify leads first

Have your receptionists ask a couple of qualifying questions before booking consultations. Is the new lead in your service area? Do you offer the service they’re looking for? Are you in their price range? Asking a few questions early on can help to ensure your meetings are with prospects most likely to convert to clients.

Create separate booking URLs for leads vs clients

Set up your lead booking link to account for urgency, meeting length, buffer times, weekly schedule, and meeting location (even if it’s just Zoom). Optimize the timing of your new lead scheduling to capture the most business without too many unnecessary interruptions.

Have receptionists book on web chat and Facebook Messenger too

Virtual receptionist services don’t only book appointments via phone calls. Capture and book more leads via chat on your website or Facebook messenger and get the opportunity to turn online visitors into paying clients.

Conclusion: Delegation and Scheduling Can Improve Your Business and Your Sanity

Business owners often try to do everything, thinking they’d always be the best person for the job. But being pulled in different directions throughout the day is bad for productivity, sanity, and ultimately the ability to accelerate the growth of your business.

Think strategically about the tasks you perform on a daily basis. Use The Eisenhower Matrix to identify which tasks aren’t the best use of your time — and look for outsourcing and technology solutions that can handle them for you. 

Take your first step today: Look over your answering and scheduling process and see if using virtual receptionists alongside Woven can take a significant load off your plate.

About Kelsey Johnson

Kelsey Johnson is the product marketing manager at Smith.ai, which provides virtual receptionist and chat services for businesses. She is a legal tech expert focused on helping small businesses through tech-enabled operations, digital marketing, and communications. Kelsey can be reached at kelsey@smith.ai.

About Smith.ai Virtual Receptionists

Smith.ai provides integrated phone and chat services for small businesses. We can help set up an integrated and comprehensive intake process that includes scheduling and prepares your clients for the beginning-to-end process they’re looking for.

Use promo code WOVEN for $100 off Smith.ai calls or chats, and visit https://Smith.ai to get started with our 20-call or chat free trial.

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