is answering the call of home workers in style has launched a remote receptionist service for home-workers and small businesses.

‘‘We saw an opening for a business that serves a key need having someone warm and friendly answering the phone promptly, at the lowest possible cost,’’

said cofounder Ann Crowley, who runs the internet start-up with her husband, Pat. 

‘‘The home office has some advantages commuting time, reduction in overall costs,qualityof life but its onebig disadvantage is the receptionist, or lack of,’’ said Crowley.

‘‘We have trained staff who know the customer and have received an overview of its business, its clients and the pressures they are under.’’Callssorted. com customers get a unique number and can use their PC or mobile phone to check their messages from any location. They also receive a nightly update of their calls and appointments.The service includes silver, gold and platinum packages, with weekly charges from e20 to e45.

A Friendly Service

Callssorted employs eight people at two bases in Co Cork.The company’s founders used personal contacts to source staff that could provide a friendly service. ‘‘A lot of home-makers among our friends were looking for parttime, flexible work. So we have local, affable people who will build warm relationships with the people they talk to and go the extra mile to look after the caller,’’ said Crowley.

Crowley advised other startups to make good use of existing relationships,bothbusiness and personal. ‘‘If we do not have a particular skill, we will invariably know someone who has.We always listen to customers, friends or family for ideas and suggestions to improve the business,’’ she said.

The system is in its beta phase. ‘‘We have been running for three months with a tight customer base of 50 businesses, testing the telephony system, getting rotas to work and working with initial clients to understand the services they want,’’ said Crowley.

Growing The Business

‘‘Our customers come from all sectors, including wine importers, personal trainers and fishermen. We have another 100 companies waiting, and should fully roll out over the next three months.’’ The couple us ed the Small Business Can website to help set up their new business. ‘‘We used smallbusinesscan. com to identify and source the main areas of help we needed,’’ said Crowley.

‘‘Firstly, we needed ITskills to build the website and develop theVoIPcall handling system. Also, through the site,we found a company to help with HR systems to manage our staff rotas and provide ongoing staff training.We identified businesses that serve SMEs which are interested in offering the service to their clients.We were IT-phobes before, but has shown us the power of online networking.’’

New companies must learn to walk before they run,Crowley said. ‘‘Stick to the original idea and do not get sidetracked. Do not look at established competitors and wish to be as big as them overnight,’’ she said.

‘‘Our focus is to get the fundamental service right. We want our customers to feel we are part of their company.We are very aware in thes e troubled times that first, second and third impressions matter.’’

Original Appeared in THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST, DECEMBER 13 2009
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