The High Cost of Poor Answering Service

Poor Answering Service

Outsourcing your business calls provides numerous benefits. It cuts costs, increases customer satisfaction, reduces call abandonment, and provides 24/7/365 support.

It also boosts productivity, enhances professionalism, and limits risk. For many, hiring an answering service is a highly effective business tactic.

But if your answering service isn’t pulling its weight, you’re losing many of these benefits, if not all. In other words, you’re not squeezing out the most from this service. That’s critical.

Poor call answering affects first impressions, detracts from your professionalism, and tells callers their calls don’t matter.  Poor call answering can cost you business and can eat into your profitability.

Tell Tale Signs of Poor Answering Service

It’s imperative, then, that you review your call answering service periodically to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Below are nine signs that tell you it’s time to change answering services:

Lacks 24/7/365 support

An article from Forbes magazine reveals that 80 percent of incoming callers don’t leave voicemail messages. So if your answering service lacks this type of support, you’re not getting the most out of that company.

And that could be costing you customers or clients, which a review will tell you. If you need this type of support but think it costs too much, check things out. The cost might be more reasonable than you think.

Offers limited auxiliary services

Some answering services only take messages. If that’s all your answering service does, you’re missing out. Most answering services are call centers.

They offer a wide variety of services that can help you, from appointment scheduling, multilingual support, and online access to Cloud-based voice, fax, and auto-attendant services.

Has poor agent training

What type of training does your answering service provide? If it’s not exacting, it’s not good enough. Also, check out its agent recruitment efforts. Exceptional service providers realize that training starts at recruitment. Rigorous interviewing, testing, and hiring processes ensure the best candidates.

Features poor performance standards

Focus on the metrics that matter to you most. And make sure your service knows what metrics are important to you. Then check out how they match up to industry standards. Some key metrics to consider:

  • Average hold time
  • Total holds for the month
  • Calls per operator at one time
  • Average call duration
  • Typical call quality

Response time too slow

Slow response times turn customers off big time. In fact, it’s a cardinal sin of answering services. Having customers wait on hold for 15 minutes while trying to complete an order is poor response time. That’s extreme. But you get the picture. Slow response times frustrate callers and costs companies thousands every year.

Fails to provide the data you need

Good reporting tells you what’s working and what’s not. You should be able to ask for any data you need from your answering service. Things you might want to include in your reports are:

  • Total number of calls handled
  • Total call processing time
  • Average speed of data
  • Date, time, and call ID for callers
  • Total and actual messages

Average call duration poor

Most basic answering service calls about a minute and a half, maybe two minutes. Most appoint calls take from 3 to 5 minutes. When you average things out, most answering service calls take about 2 minutes. If your service is telling you that its average is under 1 minute, there’s a problem. Few operators can get through calls that fast.

Non-billable admin services lacking

Great answering services do intake. That’s especially critical if your client is a medical practice or legal firm. That’s a big help for many businesses. But you don’t need a human voicemail system.

You want an answering service to do more than just answer the phones, including many non-billable admin services, such as client intake. Performing these duties makes your answering service a true business partner.

Too few reps at their centers

The number of reps at an answering service’s center or centers is critical. It impacts how many reps they dedicate to your account.

Too few reps could mean that they’re putting your calls on hold until they can get back to them later on instead of answering them on the first ring.

That’s not good for business. The only reason a service should ever put your calls on hold is when they’re transferring them to you.


These are just some of the tell-tale signs your answering service isn’t pulling its weight and might be time for a change. Poor answering service can cost you.

It can detract from your professionalism and tells clients you don’t take business seriously. Call answering services offer a lot of benefits for today’s businesses. Make sure you get the most from yours.


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