How Does an Answering Service Work? What You Need to Know
Are you wondering how an answering service works? If you are not sure, this guide will help.
Are you aware of the differences between an answering service and a call center? At a distance, they might seem like they’re the same thing, but they are very different. A call center can take orders from shoppers and supply information about your corporation but an answering service answer calls for a service-oriented business.
An answering service is ideal for times when you need to be available outside of your regular business hours. This means that your customers can get emergency service and technical support when they need it. A helped and happy customer makes for a booming business.
Interested yet? If so, here is a little more information on how answering services work and how they can benefit your company.
1. How an Answering Service Works
Answering services have been around for a while and they don’t show any signs of going anywhere. They can screen any incoming calls for you, answer basic questions, take messages, take orders, schedule appointments, and even provide tech support! There are two basic types of answering services.
Live Answering Service
As the name suggests, if you go with a live answering service an actual person will always answer the phone.
Truth be told, customers prefer this type of service over the automated one. Talking with a live person just provides a better user interface.
Automated Answering Service
This type of service uses automated greetings and menu options rather than having a receptionist. There are more customer complaints that come with this than with using live.
They force callers to listen to long menus before knowing if the option and number choice they pressed was the correct one. An automated answering service is less expensive but that’s because there is no one to staff.
2. Companies that Use an Answering Service
Many different companies and businesses take advantage of answering services, here are just a few.
Local services- Local services like beauty salons, barber shops, plumbers, handymen, and shop owners often take appointments and have to be ready to help their customers after hours.
Doctors and dentists- Sadly, medical emergencies don’t care that it is after business hours for your practice. Doctors and dentists have to be on call for any type of emergency.
Insurance and real estate- Independent and agency based agents find these services useful because they will never have a potential client sent to voice mail.
Sales professionals- Sales professionals are often in meetings and if they don’t have answering service they could lose an important lead.
3. Constellation and Setup
When you decide to partner with an answering service they will ask you a couple of questions to get a feel for your needs and expectations.
These will be simple questions like how you want to receive urgent messages and what information you want representatives to give to your customers in certain situations.
4. What to Look for
Every answering service comes with a ton of different features and benefits to consider. If a provider wants you to sign a contract right away or pay upfront then look elsewhere. Here are a few features you should ask about when you’re shopping around.
- 30 Day free trial
- Free local phone number
- Appointment booking
- Appointment reminders
- Outbound calls
- General customer service
- Messages delivered to text or email
- Custom greetings for your callers
- Month-to-month service
- No cancelation fee
5. Beware of Low Monthly Cost
A promise of a low monthly cost can sound tempting but think of other fees or charges will be added at the end of the month.
Also, ask if there is a setup fee or any other startup cost? Will you need to sign any contract or agreement? Will they offer coverage during your business hours? What is the total cost for the first month? Will a live caller be what greets your customers?
These are only a few questions that you should be asking a potential answering service company. A month-to-month model with no contracts or obligations works best for small businesses.
6. Professional and Prompt or Not so Much
If you go with the live answering service you will have a live representative answering your calls. They are trained to be friendly and greet customers with respect.
Once they have helped the customer, technology is advanced enough for you to have immediate access to messages via online or through your cell phone. Urgent phone calls will be sent directly to you.
In your search for a great service, you might come across receptionists that, while they serve their purpose, just don’t answer with the warmth that you want them to.
One way you can test the service before making a decision is to call it yourself to see what they are really offering.
7. Look at their Track Record
Like most products, you can find out a lot about an answering service through their reviews online. A good answering service will be drenched with praise from their unbiased customers.
This is really the only way, minus calling the service yourself, to tell what quality you’ll be getting from your choice.
Look into Updating your Company with an Answering Service
A great answering service can leave your customers satisfied rather you’re in the office or not. Your customers won’t be sent to voicemail when you’re in a meeting or go home to be with the family. It’s a great way to ensure that you won’t be losing any potential clients. In this sense, can you really afford not to use a service?
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