Out business model is a complete flip flop to most companies. When Laurence first thought up the idea for USAnswer, the driving force was “empowering small business”. After all, freelancers and solopreneurs now comprise 1 in every 3 workers, more than 42 million and growing, according to Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union. This is a startling indicator of the future of enterprise business with many looking to start an online business through these the solopreneurs methods. Most of these one man companies are still relying on voice mail to handle their missed calls even though they know they are probably losing business. Many of them do not get that many calls per month but they cannot afford to even lose one, as it might be a job opportunity. And, many have avoided answering services because of the cost…generally $200/month or more.
We decided that we were going to leverage the capabilities of cloud based contact management and customer relationship management software and the new VOIP phone network and develop a system that had more functionality than our competitors and offer it a lower cost to these solopreneurs. We designed the system based on “efficient live call answering” allowing us to minimize the amount of call answering minutes. For example, our customers can log in via the web or their mobile device and update their “availability” to receive a call. This means we know right away if they are available without first trying to transfer it to them, saving at least 30 seconds on each call. Our virtual receptionists can also transfer calls and take messages that are automatically sent via email and/or text message automatically with one click.
This in turn allows to have a higher customer/receptionist ratio. So, we are not trying to maximize our minutes. We are trying to minimize them while still professionally handling each call live. This in turn allows us to offer the lowest entry level pricing in the market. And, because we using a cloud based system, we can scale along with our customer base without having to invest in significant capital expense, like our competitors, meaning that our pricing will always be more competitive than theirs.
Right now the only thing that has been limiting our growth has been awareness by our target customers…solopreneurs. In the not so distant future we envision a “tipping point” when our answering service mobile app becomes the norm instead of the dreaded voice mail.