What is an Answering Service?
When you want instant relief from pain for example, who do you call? You call your doctor. When the phone connects, you want to speak directly to the receptionist or doctor. Just imagine your frustration if these calls went to voicemail.
When you have a question about a retailer’s return policy? Who do you call? You call the company. When the phone connects, you want to speak to a customer service representative or someone who can help you with your query.
When people call businesses, they want to talk to a live person, not one of those auto-attendants that will eventually send you to a voicemail. How many of us have had this happen to us. The data is clear on that topic. When clients and customers get a voicemail or an auto-attendant, they often get frustrated and will probably hang up. But they will go to your competitor who will answer the call.
One thing we know is that customers are hard to acquire and to get the trust of a customer is vital if you want them to purchase from you more often.
People like talking to other people. But if your business lacks the workforce to handle calls, what do you do? The answer is simple: You employ an answering service with live representatives. Businesses that use an answering service outperform those that aren’t by wide margins.
In this article, we explore some of the aspects of what is an answering service.
What does an answering service do?
Telephone answering services can replace or support traditional, in-house receptionists. These answering service companies process phone calls and customer inquiries during busy times.
They can also set appointments, send emails, and manage CRMs, and a whole lot more. In doing so, they provide support that can help generate repeat business and boost profitability. This support includes:
Enhancing customer service
Managing call overflow efficiently
Handling routine tasks when overwhelmed
Providing marketing and sales support
Cutting office expenses
With benefits like these, it’s no wonder more, and more companies hire call answering services when the situation requires it.
Frustration of Voicemail and Auto-attendants
People hate voicemail and auto-attendants. They are frustrating and make customers angry. They save
businesses money, but at what cost to their business? As the face of your company, these tools don’t do much to promote good customer relations:
In fact, in some cases they do the opposite, as the survey by Windsor telecom suggests
Sometimes, people hang up their phones before they even make an initial selection from the voicemail prompts. That can cost companies business.
What Industries Use an Answering Service?
Businesses of all types and sizes all use answering services—from small businesses with a handful of employees to large companies with hundreds of workers. Even one-person businesses have call answering.
Some examples of organisations that use answering services include:
General physicians, dentists, and veterinarians, aesthetics and beauty companies
Business and computer support services
Medical and sports equipment providers
Solicitors and accountants
Cleaning services, pest control
Web based business like online retailers.
Retailers, product manufacturers, estate agents, and event planners
Motoring companies and garages
Builders, electricians, plumbers and carpenters
Cleaning services, pest control,
Telephone answering services help these organisations meet customer demands and maintain the brand’s professional images. Plus, they enjoy all the benefits of a live representative answering your calls.
Determining Levels of Service
The key to making telephone answering work is finding the right level of service for your company. It’s a major decision you’ll need to make before employing an answering service.
When reviewing answering service companies, find one that provides customised plans. and a bespoke service. That way you can tailor your plan specific to your needs.
Some considerations when determining your service level include:
Filtering of specific calls like those nuisance calls from marketing companies.
There may be times when you only want to answer specific calls or calls from certain people. Call filtering lets you take just the calls you want to take while the answering service handles the rest.
Call overflow management
Sometimes businesses get call surges. They may be seasonal or the result of a hard-hitting marketing campaign. Whatever the cause, you need someone to answer promptly. Otherwise, you’ll lose the business. Call overflow forwards calls your staff can’t take to an answering service with a live representative.
A versatile business tool, this service packs a punch. Do it correctly, and you can take customer service to the next level. Call recording can help you increase productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Take advantage of it when you can. Make sure the telephone answering service can record calls when they answer.
Specific Answering Service Solutions
Another consideration when employing a call answering service is which level of service is right for you. One way to decide is to determine what tasks you want the answering service to handle and which you want to keep in-house. Some answering services are very rigid in what they offer and will not be flexible. Some telephone answering services will offer a bespoke service for your business.
Below are common tasks that answering services typically offer:
Schedule management meetings
Manage emergency calls
Take messages and forward to appropriate person
Support sales and marketing
Support products and services
Having a telephone answering service handle these tasks boosts employee productivity dramatically. What’s more, it frees employees to focus on more critical tasks, like helping customers or clients with issues or questions.
What should I Pay?
You should see what method of billing is used by the answering service eg by the minute or per message. Do they offer packages?
By the minute works for some but not most. The price looks cheap but can work out very expensive. The answering service could take a long time in answering the query or helping the caller. Repeatedly asking the same question to build up time costing you more. By the way this also frustrates customers.
Billing by the message is more transparent and generally you will know what your invoice will be. Having a per message or booking package for most businesses is far better.
But be careful with pricing. Some companies opt for the cheapest service possible. Others overpay. Both approaches hurt the company. Look for a company that will work with you and be able to make the service bespoke for you.
So, do your homework carefully when it comes to pricing. Take the time to understand what you’re paying for and what you’re getting in your call answering plan. Review it periodically to make sure it still works for you. Make sure the telephone answering company review your plan to make sure you are on the most competitive plan
Integrating with the telephone answering service
A critical step in working with an answering service is integrating your company with its telephony and software. This step is often a challenge. So, make sure you review answering service companies carefully before deciding. Most will only ask you to divert your phones and have access to your diary or CRM and they will do the rest.
Look for one, like telephone answering that focuses on thoroughly understanding your processes first. Then takes the time to integrate its services seamlessly with your business.
In other words, you want customers, patients, and clients to feel like they’re talking with you, not an answering service.
Now you know what an answering service is. The next step is to find an answering service company that provides that kind of attention to detail, and you’ll find a partner that can help you grow your company—one that you can depend on when the situation calls for it.