A professional answering service will help your business save time and money and make sure your clients or customers aren’t left out in the cold when they reach a pre-recorded answering machine. Virtually any company of any size can benefit from live operators who are ready to take your calls, no matter what time of the day or day of the week it is.
Follow some basic tips when choosing a professional answering service to make sure you hire one that will meet your needs.
The first thing to ask about when you’re shopping for an answering service is what services they provide. Some companies function solely as answering and messaging services, while others provide other call center services.
If you simply want someone available to answer the phone after your office hours and take down the caller’s basic information, a provider that functions as a message service may be sufficient.
If you want to hire a company to take orders, relay more complex information about your business’s products and services, administer surveys, or handle customer service questions, opt for a company that provides call center services.
One of the main things to look for when you look for an answering service is the company’s experience, particularly in dealing with clients in your industry. Service providers that have experience will know how to help you determine which services you need and assist you with writing a script if you need assistance.
Experience is particularly important if you’re in the medical or legal fields since there are more laws and regulations your answering service representatives will need to follow to stay compliant.
Thoroughly trained answering service employees is essential. You want your customers to feel they’re reaching a caring, knowledgeable member of your team, so you need to make sure the answering service’s employees receive training on customer service soft skills, as well as the pertinent information about your business.
Answering services that offer competitive pay and benefits to their employees might cost more than ones that pay lower wages or outsource their work to contractors, but you won’t regret spending a little more for a service that strives for high employee satisfaction.
Happier employees will want to do the best job possible, so you won’t lose leads due to poor customer service, lack of ability, or unknowledgeable staff.
Choose an answering service company that uses strong, reliable software and hardware. Ask how often the company updates its equipment and how it deals with technology updates. Make sure the company has procedures in place for handling utility outages, system downtime, and software updates so you don’t miss out on important calls and messages.
A good answering service will have a strong backup system in place to deal with weather-related problems, such as backup generators, and computer malfunctions.
Ask about the pricing structure the company uses. Some companies charge a fee per call. This type of pricing structure is typically used by companies that take simple messages.
Answering services that provide a wider array of services often charge on a per-minute basis so that you don’t have to pay the same amount for quick questions as you would for a more lengthy call answering more involved questions, handling lead generation, or taking an order for your products.
Some companies offer the ability to direct callers to a pre-recorded message before they reach a live person. This is helpful if you want to be able to screen out callers who simply want to find out your business’s hours or location so you don’t have to pay for longer calls that could have been handled with a brief message.
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