What is an Answering Service?
The definition of an answering service is “a business that answers telephone calls and takes messages for the people and businesses that hire it.”
Perhaps a more complete definition is a service provider that is employed by another business to processes incoming telephone calls, take a message, and deliver it per the businesses instructions. Live employees take the messages not an auto attendant.
Traditional answering services tailor each account to their customized needs. For example:
- Determine if a call is urgent or non-urgent.
- Screening calls that are non-urgent or solicitations.
- To relay urgent calls to an On-Call.
- Provide Off Site Support as a replacement to in-house employees or as an overflow option during busy peak periods.
Answering Service Accounts typically:
- Require timely and critical decision making.
- Involve steps beyond simply gathering information. Such as dispatching ER Calls.
- Take approximately a minute to complete the call.
Traditional Answering Services offer support for a multitude of industries: most commonly the medical industry, HVAC, Plumbers, Funeral Homes, and crisis lines. If the business is service oriented a telephone answering service provides the after hour’s support so businesses do not have to hire on-site staff.
How to choose a great answering service? Let’s face it quite often doing business with a company is chosen because of the cost, reputation/quality of service and vicinity to your businesses location
When looking at cost it is hard in the answering service industry. Some bill by time, some bill by message and some bill by call. Then there are different features available such as client web portals, scheduling, on-call maintenance, extra holiday fee’s.. and so many more we can’t mention them all. Our suggestion is to get an idea of how you want your business to be handled at the answering service and then get a customized quote. Otherwise you are comparing apples to oranges to mango’s.
- Reputation/Quality of Service:
What is the company’s reputation? How long have they been in business? Do they have updated technology or are they utilizing software and systems that are antiquated?
As we mentioned previously, staff with quick thinking and handling of calls is critical. What is the longevity of the agents? Is there a lot of turn over? What is their attitude? Are there QA and Customer Service Programs in place?
Most Traditional Answering Services are US Based. However, it would be a great question to ask. In addition ask if their agents are US Based. With today’s technology a customer service agent can work remotely: from almost anywhere. They may be in your local town or in South America. And isn’t it nice when the customer service agent can pronounce your local towns?
What do you want from your answering service? For some clients we ARE the answering service, for others we are their virtual or offsite receptionist, for some we ARE their receptionist. The beauty is we can be what each individual customer prefers us to be.
A great answering service and their staff should become part of the client’s team. It is collaboration. Our agents represent your business. Therefore your customer’s are our customers. Understanding what is required and how to dispatch the call cheerfully, quickly, accurately and efficiently creates a great experience for the caller and our client.
Call Kelley’s today to see what Business Solutions we can offer your business!