What is an answering service?
Most industries have the traditional impression that an answering service just takes messages on their clients’ behalf. Though they certainly can provide quality message taking, they can provide provide plenty of other services, too. An answering service can benefit your business no matter what industry you specialize in. Read on to learn the “whats,” “wheres,” “whens,” and “hows” about answering services.
What is an answering service?
By definition, an answering service is “a commercial service that answers telephone calls for its clients.” We at Contact One define an answering service as “a specialized call center that is focused primarily on the needs of the industry it is servicing.” This may include answering important calls on the clients’ behalf, collecting information from callers, and relaying that information to on-call staff.
What does an answering service do?
Answering services are a valuable tool for sales representatives who can’t afford to miss leads because they’re away from the phone. The answering service gives the caller a human voice to interact with, and lends a much more professional appearance to the business than standard voicemail.
What can answering services offer?
Answering services offer a variety of services: overflow call support, live online chat help, appointment scheduling, order taking, message taking, call forwarding, and information collection.
Overflow call support is when the answering service will answer calls that would normally receive a busy signal of the office staff cannot get to the call in a timely manner. This is especially helpful when our clients have unusually high call volume or a staff member calls out sick, leaving you short-handed.
Because answering services can provide live online chat help, appointment setting services, and order taking for online stores, your business never has to miss a potential sale or new customer because you can’t get to the phone or the computer.
In addition to the services listed above, a good answering service should be able to provide reports on any information that is collected. Reports are a way to find out very important information about the types of calls an office is getting, the exact quantity, or even what the busiest days or times are.
Though it’s known that answering services and call centers can be located everywhere in the world, these services can still be located within the United States. Contact One, for example, is located in Tucson, Arizona.
Customers, patients, and clients, however, can come in contact with an answering service over the phone or online. Online chat support is a great option when customers do not want to use the phone.
When are answering services available?
Answering services are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and on holidays.. Depending on your industry, the standard nine-to-five coverage may not be enough. When you outsource your calls to a call center, your calls will be answered and addressed appropriately no matter the time of day, week, or month.
Why would I need an answering service?
There are dozens of scenarios that could prevent you from conducting business at your office. This could be a simple phone system problem, power failure, or frozen pipes. Other threats could be a bad storm that doesn’t do damage, but prevents or delays you from getting to your office.
Having an answering service could solve the problem by answering the phone when you can’t. They can take a message or transfer the calls to your home or mobile phone.
How can an answering service benefit me?
There are many was an answering service could benefit you.
An answering service can help you gain new customers and keep existing ones. If your existing and prospective customers encounter a busy line or when their calls go unanswered, they’re more likely to move on to a competitor. A dissatisfied customer may also share their negative experience with other people, which could translate to a bigger loss for your company.
Another benefit is that it can help you contain costs. It improves the quality of your company’s customer service without hiring new staff and paying for additional phone lines. The cost for an answering service is just a fraction of what you would pay for a new employee and other related costs (such as training and taxes).
Talk to your answering service about finding ways to streamline your call process. Sometimes the service does not need to collect all the information you do in your office; maybe you only need the callers’ names & numbers, not full addresses.
Answering services are brand elevators! An answering service team is trained in the art of phone communication, and are provided with specific client information and protocols. The team can answer calls with any provided script, ensuring that your brand is being upheld while inquiries are being handled professionally.
Finally, another benefit is something that has already been mentioned: being available at any time of day. A customer service system that operates at all hours of the day will cater to any type of schedule imaginable. This will allow people who work nights to get the assistance they need, even if it’s not during business hours.
How do I find a reliable answering service?
Hiring an answering service is like hiring a new employee. Take the time to outline what you want the answering service to provide for you.
What role would you like the answering service to fill? Act as an overflow receptionist? Do you need triage support? Do you need sales calls transferred to field reps? Maybe the answering service can assist you with prioritizing service calls?
Ask about quality control, too.
What does the answering service do to maintain quality they brag about during the sales process? Do they use independent quality control testing (secret shoppers)? How do they incentivize their employees? How do they screen, hire, and train their employees?
If possible, meet with the team in person and at their location if possible. This gives you an opportunity to meet the staff and make sure they have the right team for the job.
A high quality answering service will identify your needs and evolve with you as your business grows. Contact One provides professional, 24-hour answering services, and we can customize our services to meet the needs of your business. Contact us today to learn how our services can help grow your company.