What Makes A Great Answering Service Great? Your 2020 Guide To Find To Best Company
With different answering services available, which service is the best one in 2020? Discover what makes the best answering service greater than the rest:
- Must Haves
- Popular Services
- Common Niches
- Integration Needs
- Pricing Options
It is predicted that 85% of customer communications with companies will be managed by automation in the year 2020. Despite our increasing use of automation, 60% of customers prefer to conduct business the old-fashioned way.
Clients like to talk over the phone with a real person. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small business or a large corporation, the best answering service is one that puts your clients in contact with a real person.
Clients Want Real Human Contact
When Google placed calls using Google Assist Al, the assistant sounded so real that people were surprised to learn it was fully automated. The automated assistant of the future cannot provide the personalized service an answering center does. Clients are disappointed and feel they have been tricked when they learn they are talking with a machine.
Answering Service “Must-Haves”
There are many optional features offered by answering service companies. Here are a few “must-haves” to provide good service.
Professional Live Agents
The agent answering the phone is a representative of your business. They should be professional and respectful to your clients. The most basic service will answer the phone with your company name, take a message, and notify you of the call.
24 Hour Answering Service
The answering service should be operational 24/7 during all 365 days of the year. Being able to capture leads and getting urgent messages dispatched helps your business grow.
- After Hours
Check to make sure the service you are considering does not charge an extra fee for nights, holidays, or weekends. Verify they do not switch to an automated system during slow times or on holidays. A live agent should answer the phone at all times.
Notification of Messages
The answering service should offer different notification methods for phone messages. You should be able to choose from email, text message, or have messages accessible on their app. Messages should be forwarded to you as taken so you know what is going on with your clients and business at all times.
- Call Patching
Additional Services Offered at the Best Answering Service
You need to determine what your business needs, your budget, and select your options. A company that allows you to start small and add services as your business grows is a good choice.
Outsourced Receptionist Services
Receptionist services are more personalized than a standard answering service. These agents are able to screen calls, schedule appointments, answer basic questions, process orders, and offer basic customer assistance.
Scheduling appointments is handled by a shared calendar. When the agent schedules an appointment, you receive an automatic notification by placement on the calendar, email, text, or all three.
Bilingual or Multi-Lingual Answering Services
It is easier to get and keep clients if your answering service offers bilingual or multilingual services. Spanish is the first language in millions of households.
A multilingual call center will have staff who can speak several languages. Customers know they are understood and their needs will be met. If you are using receptionist services, those services should also be bilingual or multi-lingual.
Agents should answer in a manner appropriate for the type of business you have. A children’s party venue would want someone who sounds cheerful and energetic. A funeral home needs an agent who sounds caring and reserved.
There are businesses such as medical, eCommerce, legal, and construction that may need an answering service that specializes in their profession and can meet any special security requirements.
If you have a medical business, you need an answering service that is HIPPA compliant. A service that knows those rules will not leave patient information on a voice mail or send a text. They will require a return call or have you log into a secure portal.
A law office may want an agent familiar with the legal process. The agent should be able to do a simple legal intake. This is another profession in which there are compliance issues with the security of client information.
Live Chat Services
Some answering services offer the opportunity to conduct live chat from your business website. This provides the customer with immediate response to questions when you are not available. Forty-one percent of consumers prefer asking questions by live chat.
Client Message Portal
A client portal provides the business with the ability to view their account information online, run reports, and update the scripts agents use when answering phones. Changes should be available in real-time.
CRM Integration is a feature where the phone service has an application that syncs with Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce, Google Suite, or other customer relationship management software.
This keeps track of calls with each customer and allows the business to pull transcripts or records of caller interactions. When looking at this option make sure the call center software is compatible with your business software.
Answering Service Pricing Options
Pricing for answering services will vary based on your needs, call volume, and budget. Contract with a service that meets your needs now but offers additional options as your business grows.
Check to see what the billing increments are for service. The system used to round up can impact your monthly bill. COMPARE PRICES HERE
The industry standard is to bill in 6-second increments. This means that if a call is 61 seconds long it will be billed as a 1 minute 6-second call. Some companies use 12-second increments, others upcharge by the minute.
- Flat Rate Billing
- Pay by the call
- Time based billing
- Unlimited Plans
Ask about any set-up fees, recurring fees, and incidental charges for things like holidays and overages. Read the company contract to make sure there are no hidden charges. Request a breakdown of what will appear on each monthly statement.
Most answering service companies bill month-to-month with no contract obligations. If the company has a mandatory contract period, ask what the cancellation policy is.
Take Advantage of Free Trials
Some answering service companies offer a free trial period. Take advantage of this opportunity. Try all the services available. Place a few test calls to your business at different times of day and night to see how the agents answer and what kind of treatment your clients will receive.
Move Your Business Forward
When a customer calls your business and a real person answers, they are more likely to become loyal clients. It doesn’t matter whether it is a holiday, your power has gone out, employees called in sick, or inclement weather has kept everyone home. Your business remains open and operating when you find the best answering service.