The model for achieving business success has been established. Create a solution to a unique problem, surround yourself with a strong team and work as hard as you can. While these tenets still hold true, the playbook has changed in the digital age. With fewer barriers to entrepreneurship, more and more companies are forming each and every day. Because of the development of several apps and tech services, companies no longer see the connection between hard work and results as a straight line. While there is no true replacement for pulling up your sleeves and putting in the manhours, we are living in an era defined by finding ways to work more efficiently.

My company VoiceNation is a live answering service that helps many small businesses scale by leveraging great customer experiences. The phrase: “working smarter not harder” applies to many of our clients but stood out to one in particular, rather serendipitously.

Express Labs is a DOT drug and alcohol testing consortium for trucking companies of all sizes. They work with a plethora of companies in the transportation space, and never have a shortage of calls coming in, both from prospective clients and current customers needing assistance or asking a question. The company started with just one phone line and soon moved to three because of the sheer number of calls they were receiving.

A Dream Vacation

Mike Youngelman of Express Labs had an upcoming vacation to Hawaii planned and knew he had to have a plan in place to handle all the phone calls while he was out for the week. Mike turned to VoiceNation to help pick up the slack while he was away as a cost-effective solution to keep business running smoothly as opposed to hiring more staff. For the first few days of his trip, Mike was anxious and was expecting his phone to blow up with issues in the transition. Yet, the opposite occurred. Mike enjoyed peace and quiet on his island getaway, while live answering handled business on the home front.

All new leads were picked up and processed while customer service calls were handled with pre-built, custom scripts. This set off a spark for Mike, that if this system was running full time, he could shift his focus to other parts of the businesses on a day-to-day basis. No longer having to worry about manning the phones, Mike was able to look at the big picture and plot strategic growth for Express Labs. Ironic that it took time off of work to launch a growth trajectory, but that shows the value of working smarter not harder.

Factors of Scale

With live answering covering the phone lines for Express Labs day, night and on the weekends, Mike and the team can not only breathe a sigh of relief but also look to reallocate resources to take advantage of their newfound time. This led to a ramp-up of ad spend and marketing initiatives to continue driving new leads to the company. Mike was able to create custom scripts to guide potential clients through the onboarding process knowing that an uptick in calls from the increase in advertising would be handled without an extra strain on his team.

With hundreds of calls coming in a day, Mike knew he was on the right track, all thanks to a well-timed vacation. Before leveraging customer experience tools, Express Labs wasn’t able to gauge exactly how many calls they were missing, especially at nights and on the weekends. Now with a live answering platform, Mike not only knows calls will be answered, but he can also track upticks in traffic to see trends and correlate his advertising efforts with revenue growth.

The Value of Real-Time Customer Experience

In scaling Express Labs, Mike knew not only the importance of converting new leads but also in retaining existing customers. If customer service calls were not being handled efficiently, Express Labs would’ve started to see more customer churn. Even if advertising was bringing in new leads, the company would not scale, but rather maintain the size of its client roster. Thus, the importance of offering real-time customer experience to ensure all clients are happy and any problems are solved seamlessly. It is a lot harder to acquire a new client than retain a current one. Lucky for Mike, he found the formula to efficiently do both.

Many companies have a past event or experience that triggered a change in their future trajectory; for Mike and Express Labs, this event happened to be some much-needed self-care and time off. While not every problem can be solved with a trip to Hawaii, this anecdote does raise the question for business owners: are you doing too much? With so many tools out there today, the key to scale may actually be doing less. By focusing on the big picture and less on the day-to-day details, entrepreneurs will see growth, just like Mike and the team at Express Labs.