Houston Answering Services Can Share the Blame for Small Biz Owners Skipping Summer Vacations
HOUSTON, TX, June 19, 2007—In Houston, answering services can take some of the blame for many small business owners having a stressful summer, according to Iain Clarke, a small business expert who owns a virtual receptionist company.
Clarke cites two new studies that show fewer small business owners expect to take a summer vacation of at least a week this year. “Statistics show 59% will vacation for a week or more versus an average of 67% over the last four years,” says Clarke.
The study, conducted by OPEN, the small business arm of American Express, shows that even among those small business owners who do take off a week, as many as 65% say they will still worry while they’re away—particularly about the level of service their clients are receiving and also about the competence of the staff they leave in charge.
Clarke says another survey commissioned last month by Discover, the credit card giant, shows similar findings – 23% of small business owners with five employees or less have not planned a vacation that lasts at least a week in more than four years.
“Bad experiences with answering services can be enough to prompt a conscientious home-based business owner to skip his well-deserved time off,” says Clarke who owns Galleria Houston-based Intelligent Office. “Everyone deserves a vacation, and virtual receptionists can help small business owners make sure that happens successfully.”
Intelligent Office serves Houston home-based business owners with a new kind of remote technology that is different from answering service technology. “This new-age communication technology ensures the seamless transfer of calls from the virtual receptionist to the business owner, wherever he or she happens to be,” says Clarke. He says callers have no idea whether the home-based business owner is sitting at the kitchen table or sitting on the beach.
“Answering service technology does not do this,” he says. Intelligent Office is not an answering service,“ says Clarke. ”Answering services do not have virtual receptionists. They have operators. Answering service operators answer the phone on a 24-hour basis and have little or no personal knowledge of the business. Virtual receptionists answer phones five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. just as they would if they worked in a traditional Houston office situation.” The cost for this personal service, Clarke says, is often less than $300 a month.
He clarifies another misconception about virtual communication technology. "Some people think of virtual receptionists as some kind of automated, robotic kind of voice on the other end of the line,” says Clarke, “and that’s not true. Our receptionists are real people, professionals who provide as much or as little information to callers as the business owner instructs them to give. And unlike the typical Houston answering service situation,” says Clarke, “virtual receptionists are trained to speak knowledgeably about a home-based business owner’s company.
In fact, many of our home-based business clients who live in the Houston area visit our Galleria offices. They know our receptionists. They’ve watched them work. They’ve seen how their computer screens light up with display connection points and client information for every call.”
Clarke says virtual receptionists and virtual assistants excel at honoring a small business owner’s specific requests.
“Clients can instruct our virtual receptionists to ‘put my kids’ calls through but don’t let anyone else know I’m in the office,’” Clarke says.
Clarke says the biggest payoff for home-based business owners looking for a stress-free vacation is that “callers are never greeted with chaotic background noises or impersonal operators that seem to be the standard offered by the average Houston answering service.”
For more information about Intelligent Office virtual receptionist and virtual assistant technology, call Iain Clarke at (281) 657-3300 or visit www.iogalleria.com.
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