It’s officially the holiday season and small business owners are doing a mad dash to capitalize on this lucrative time of year. In 2019 alone, US consumers are expected to shell out more than $140 billion during the holiday season. This time of year can contribute up to 20 percent of a business’s sales, so it’s no wonder companies work extremely hard to prepare for the holiday season – whether that’s bringing in fresh inventory, stocking up popular items or ramping up marketing and advertising campaigns.

But what about actually running your business during this hectic time? Simply answering the phone can be a full-time job in and of itself. Over the past two holiday seasons, call volume to businesses has risen more than 375%.  Today, a significant amount of business still takes place over the phone. It could be an existing customer calling to place an order or leads reaching out to learn more about the goods and services your company offers. It’s important to keep focused on providing excellent customer service and capturing every lead that comes into your business. These prospects may just be shopping for the holidays now, but they could become lifetime customers based on their initial interaction with your business.

Are Seasonal Employees Worth It?

One solution is to hire seasonal workers. It’s a common practice among larger brands. But for small businesses, this is a tedious exercise that usually requires a month or two of preparation between advertising for positions, recruiting, interviews and finalizing the hiring process. And it’s something that needs to be handled delicately. While these employees will only be on board temporarily, they’re still an extension of your brand. You don’t want just anybody interacting with your  . You want the caliber of people who will represent your business best. Imagine all the leads you’ll be getting this holiday season – great customer experience is going to be the difference in achieving a higher conversion rate.

The cost of hiring seasonal workers also might not be in your budget. You have to pay at a competitive rate, and you’ll need enough staff to extend your business hours to compete with larger brands that can easily have holiday hours staffed with seasonal workers.

Leveraging Today’s Customer Experience Tools

A more viable solution is to lean on customer experience tools to help you keep more of that holiday revenue instead of spending it on the staff you may need to handle the influx of sales. Live answering services and virtual assistants are a great way to handle your high call volume and customer traffic during the holidays. Answering services provide live operators to manage your calls, so every time a request comes into your business, it’s being handled by a human being, instead of being sent to voicemail. If unanswered, many consumers will jump to your competitor, especially during the busiest time of the year.

With an answering service, operators will take messages from your callers and then send them to you. You’re completely in control of when the operators answer your calls. Maybe it’s during peak hours, the weekends, or after hours – ensuring that you never miss a beat and freeing you up to not just make money during the holidays, but also enjoy time with friends and family.  Live answering and virtual receptionist services can also help customers process orders, take payments, forward calls and provide bilingual operators to help you reach a diverse customer base. It’s a great way to get more hands helping you out during the holidays, but for a fraction of the cost of hiring additional employees.

Many small businesses get nervous with the holidays around the corner, but this doesn’t have to be the case. With tools like live answering services and virtual assistants, many companies can improve their sales volume, without having to reduce their margins or work around the clock. The holidays are a special time of the year that should be cherished by all. Even small business owners.

Jay Reeder is the Founder and CEO at VoiceNation.

Holiday stock photo by nito/Shutterstock