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Thread: Automated answering service - any ideas?

  1. #1
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    Automated answering service - any ideas?

    I have an idea that I'd like to implement for a lead capturing system that receives calls and takes messages.

    Here's the thing, I want to put out some advertising for my rental units and don't want to publish my personal cell number. I have a day job and don't want my phone ringing off the hook while I'm at work.

    I want a system that answers for me, either a voice mail or an actual person 'Good day, this is ABC corporation, please leave your name, number and email address and we will send you an information pack....etc'. So it sounds professional and legit.

    I want the messages to be captured, and processed into a database. The new leads are pushed into a CRM and I receive an email with the lead and details.

    CRM automatically sends information pack as soon as lead drops into the system

    I then call back and make appointments for viewing the property.

    My ideas were to set up a 0860 number and connect it straight to an answering service that is answers by a virtual assistant who captures the info. This might cost a bit of money so I might start with answering system through something like Google Voice.

    I might also go to Elance to find a Virtual PA to process the leads for me, I've used Indian PA's to do data capture and they charge about 5$ an hour...

    Any ideas on how to set something like this up?

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    No idea, but once you built it I would be interested in it.
    Houses4Rent
    "We treat your investment as we treat our own"
    marc@houses4rent.co.za www.houses4rent.co.za
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    Global Residential Property Investor / Specialized Letting Agent & Property Manager

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    I'm investigating the following lead capture process:

    1.) Prospect calls>
    2.) answering machine answers>
    3.) message is recorded>
    4.) message sound bite emailed to PA in India (or wherever)>
    5.) PA transcribes message and captures data into google spread sheet (or CRM)
    6.) If email is provided PA emails info pack to prospect
    7.) At the end of everyday all new leads are compiled and emailed to me
    8.) I call back leads and follow up with appointments when the time suits me

    Step 4 is the trickiest part of the process, not sure what technology can do this.

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    Not sure whether I like 2 though. If I call someone and I get a computer I already get annoyed. I don't want to call enquiring about a property wanting to even ask (basic) questions and then I get a dumb machine. What if the sound bit is scrambled and/or the transcription makes minced meat out of it? What if the caller does not leave a number by accident? You may loss that lead forever.
    On second thoughts I think its better to find a cheap (English speaking) person who can do that. Maybe explore an Indian or other service using a skype number?
    Houses4Rent
    "We treat your investment as we treat our own"
    marc@houses4rent.co.za www.houses4rent.co.za
    083-3115551
    Global Residential Property Investor / Specialized Letting Agent & Property Manager

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    If the advertising is free then what does it matter if I lose a lead? The person on the other side might be desperate to mrent and won't mind jumping through a couple hoops to lodge the enquiry. The whole point of this excercise to automate the process with as little cost and effort from my side. I'll have pesky realtors running around doing marketing off course but I want to do a bit of marketing from my side as a supplement.

    The problem with having a live human answering the phone is that they need to be trained to field questions, and you have to pay them.

    I worked for a company some years ago and we paid a service provider who specialised in phone answering. All you do is provide the name of your company and your share call number re-routes to their call centre, a nice sounding young girl answers with '[You company name], how may I assist you?', they would then put the caller on hold, re-route the call to your cell phone, tell you who's on the line, and if you don't want to take the call the call agent will take a message for you and send an email. Service cost around R300/month. This made it seem like our little work from home business had a nice front office.

    Again don't want my phone ringing off the hook whilst at work.

    I would test the system starting off with no costs and tweak from there.

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    I think we have very different objectives - you are a 'hobby landlord' I am multiple investor and am running a business for landlords.

    I see no relevance whether an advert was free or not. That caller might get upset and I have a reputation to lose. It also could be a landlord looking to rent for whatever reason and then let his own place. If we impress him as a tenant he might give us his property to let too. Has happened already.

    Why not simply put your cell on voicemail/vibrate and only answer numbers you know.

    Or buy a pre paid sim card, stick in an old brick cell and use that number for your advertising and put the auto message on that cell's voicemail.
    Houses4Rent
    "We treat your investment as we treat our own"
    marc@houses4rent.co.za www.houses4rent.co.za
    083-3115551
    Global Residential Property Investor / Specialized Letting Agent & Property Manager

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    Diamond Member HR Solutions's Avatar
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    Why not use Regal business office solutions ? They can do exactly that.
    HR Solutions - Recruitment Specialists - Johannesburg & Capetown Tel: 0861-045-263
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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    Thanks, will look at them
    Houses4Rent
    "We treat your investment as we treat our own"
    marc@houses4rent.co.za www.houses4rent.co.za
    083-3115551
    Global Residential Property Investor / Specialized Letting Agent & Property Manager

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    I can't find anything matching on Regal. Did you mean Regus maybe?

    They do call handling, but do not seem to do basic email handling.
    Last edited by Houses4Rent; 21-Sep-14 at 04:50 PM.
    Houses4Rent
    "We treat your investment as we treat our own"
    marc@houses4rent.co.za www.houses4rent.co.za
    083-3115551
    Global Residential Property Investor / Specialized Letting Agent & Property Manager

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    I used to use a system called Elastix a few years ago, but this was just a call routing system i.e. automated answering, selecting options which then routes the call as you have it set up, including to an external telno.
    We use Vox now, which is an IP call system with a 087 number. The advantage is that you can plug it in anywhere (into a landline) and the number remains the same (useful if you ever move) and they use IP routing so your telephone costs are a fraction of what it normally would be using telkom lines or a cellphone network.
    I use a softphone for this, so even when I am traveling internationally, I simply activate my softphone on my machine, and it is as if I am calling from my SA phone.
    You can setup the answering and forwarding options from the website.
    I dont think this is exactly what you are looking for (CRM component), but when you look into a system, keep this in mind.

    I would be quite keen to know what you found from the CRM perspective - keep us updated please.

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