Editors Note: This article was updated on June 16, 2020, originally published on December 4, 2018, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
According to a survey by American Express, “two-thirds of those surveyed (68%) said that a pleasant representative was a key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62 percent said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.” In the same survey, when issues become more complex, 63% look to a real person to solve their problem, 40% over the phone, and 23% in-person. More impressively, since 2014, customer service has improved across almost all industries. Meaning, if you are not delivering a positive experience, your competition most likely is.
Partnering with an answering service provides many benefits that can allow you to deliver a positive customer experience and scale your customer service operations. It eliminates missed calls or delays in answering phones, sharing product or service knowledge, submitting support tickets, appointment scheduling, and so much more. Providing consistent and meaningful experience builds loyalty but also promotes word-of-mouth advertising and increases profitability.
First, it’s essential to know if you need a service answering inbound calls for you. Over the years, we have identified a variety of key reasons organizations hire call center services to manage their calls and other processes. If you identify yourself or your business with at least one of these, you need to hire an answering service:
Not all employees are as knowledgeable, and if any of them answer your incoming calls, your image will be deteriorated.
Dragging workers from their jobs to answer phones is promoting disorganization and inefficiency.
Customers want to be able to reach your business 24 hours a day during the 365 days of the year. If you are not managing your customers’ expectations, they will probably seek out a competitor.
Businesses need to keep an eye for actions that increase costs. By outsourcing the right answering service, you won’t have to worry about hiring new employees, what kind of benefits to give them, and their training.
Some businesses have seasonal needs. During certain parts of the year, you may need assistance to handle spikes in call volume.
First impressions are everything. The way the first call is handled can determine if you win or lose that client. If you need a consistent professional experience for your customers, you may need to hire a service organization.
Answering phone calls from customers is critical, but other tasks require their attention. Calls can keep employees from handling other important tasks for your business.
When you “Google” the term “answering service,” you get thousands of results claiming to be the best call centers around. Many offer a wide variety of support customer calling plans. The key is finding a service that fits your exact needs. We provide you nine tips to help you pick the right telephone answering service company.
If they’ve worked in your industry before, that’s ideal. Look for a company that handles clients inside of your industry. IT Help-Desk companies are different from a medical center.
Search for a call center that handles clients similar to your company’s size.
Knowing what functionality you’ll need is critical to developing an effective calling plan.
Before making your decision, you’ll need to decide what support services you need.
Next, determine the calling services the vendor candidates provide. Some will offer more than others.
Now, input everything into an Excel spread or write everything down on a sheet of paper. Prioritize the list of services.
Compare what the vendors offer with what services you need. Eliminate any vendor that doesn’t provide the services you need.
Having selected an approach, confirm what you get with the base charges. Many offer what looks like enticing base charges at first glance, but that changes when it comes to add-on services.
Verify the services you are paying for. Don’t pay extra for:
Prices you see listed on websites are typically for simple message intake and delivery. They may exclude the protocols and functionality you require.
Once you decide on what services you want, verify answering service pricing with the vendor.
Does the company understand your industry?
Asking questions about industry experience can determine if they are the right fit for your company.
Some questions you should ask are:
You can make a good case hiring one based in the United States or internationally in the right circumstance. Pros and cons exist for both cases.
Sometimes, going overseas is not cost-effective.
Local phone answering services can come to your offices. Seeing your organization in action can help it understand your business and the people behind it.
If the answering service manages your account at one site, it diverts calls to a different place, asking for trouble.
When your calls are diverted, it’s easy for agents to make mistakes. Even if the other site is part of the same company, you sacrifice familiarity with your account and your callers by going this route. Diverting calls encourages mistakes and delays, hurting customer service.
The security of your data is critical —mainly if it includes customers’ personal information. You’re responsible for customers’ data, and can incur penalties and fines for losing that data—no matter how it’s lost.
Hackers target small and medium-sized businesses just as much as they do large companies.
A report from Trustwave, a cybersecurity consultancy, said that 90% of data breaches impact small businesses. Data breaches can cost you more than you think.
Review their cybersecurity capabilities. Ideally, you want a company that:
Check out the company’s backup plans and procedures. Do they have a plan that keeps the company up and running if something untoward happens? If the call center goes down because of an emergency, so do you.
Verify that the service can manage calls during your required schedule.
Some services are only opened during business hours but are limited to message taking and appointment setting.
For some businesses, this type of service is sufficient.
24-hour call answering services tend to offer more robust services and flexibility. And the extended hours does not necessarily mean the cost will be higher.
Find the company that fits your exact needs to grow your business and benefit from using a live answering service.
Having a poor answering service will cost your company a lot, and won’t be able to have all benefits of what an excellent answering service can provide you with.
A great call answering service will help you boost customer retention and proves you have excellent customer management.
Even in the digital age where answers are available at your fingertips, customers would rather seek assistance from another person. An answering service offers immediate access.
Hiring an answering service boosts your company’s reputation in many ways. When customers call, they receive real-time response from one of your representatives, and it helps you have a better reputation by giving excellent customer service, it can improve your branding and can make your business grow your customer retention by solving all of their problems.