Bill Connelly, owner of Connelly’s Specialty Crane Service, relies on a professional telephone answering service to help him and his small crew serve their unique clients. Connelly’s business specializes in small, maneuverable cranes that are widely used in the motion picture industry. “We only have a few staff members, so getting our calls handled properly was essential to the success of the business,” said Connelly. “When we began, I relied on an answering machine and would return calls each evening. As we grew, it became more important to have a timely response for our customers in order to book the highest possible number of hours on our equipment and yield the most profit. Back then, it could make the difference between breaking even or taking a loss.” “So, we went to using cell phones. That was okay. I got all the calls myself, but if I was on another call or unavailable, that didn’t help. Other times, I’d be working on a set coordinating equipment and couldn’t give callers the attention they expected. That was worse than our old land-line phone with the answering machine,” Connelly said. For a short time, he reverted to the old system. That is, until a business acquaintance suggested he consider using an answering service. “I never really thought about that,” said Connelly. “I assumed that was something for doctors. Boy, was I wrong.” Working with his answering service, Connelly designed a unique promotion to highlight his newly improved customer service. “Working with the service, we promised callers we would respond to their calls in less than one hour. If I couldn’t get back to them in less time than that, we’d send them a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant. It bought me the time I needed to get myself organized before I’d call back. When I did, I could focus on them. Plus, it gave me the incentive to stay on top of my call-backs, or else it cost me money!” The plan has been in place for eighteen months. In that time, Connelly has only had to give out two gift certificates. Both times he was on set involved in a critical safety check. “It’s a small price to pay when you are working on something that can affect personal health and safety,” he said. Connelly credits his answering service with helping move him to the top of the local crane market. He’s even begun to branch into specialty construction services to set custom-built architectural elements in schools, community centers, and shopping malls. “Diversifying into construction is something we never could have done without having our answering service handle all of our calls,” said Connelly. “I wish I had hired them sooner.” Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center industry and who provides a healthcare call center matchmaking service. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.