An answering service is an affordable and professional way to respond to and serve customers seamlessly and efficiently. An Answering Service refers to a group of trained professionals who answer telephone calls, take detailed messages and relays messages directly to a client (or group of individuals). Answering Services cater to businesses of all sizes and work in a variety of business types, including plumbing companies, medical practices, law firms, small businesses, construction, air condition, retail and so much more.
Although sometimes classified as a call center, an answering service is more personalized and focuses on directly (via email, fax, text and other means) relaying individual messages in a timely manner. Over time, answering service representatives have also taken on the role of virtual receptionist and have expanded service hours to 24/7, even operating during major holidays such as Christmas, 4th of July and New Year’s Day.
Is your company using precious resources to answer the telephone? As a businessperson, you want to focus on key success factors that most directly affect your profitability; anything that distracts you or your team members from those core functions can negatively impact the company’s earnings.
If you find yourself struggling with any of the following all-too-common issues related to these questions, it may be time to thing about outsourcing your customer service to a professional answering service:
- Do you have difficulties answering all of your calls?
- Do you find yourself constantly checking your voicemail?
- Is your voicemail always full?
- Does having to answer the phone tie up other employees of your business?
- Does your phone over-ring (ring for a long period before it is answered)?
- Have you wondered if it would be more cost-effective to outsource your answering service needs than it would be to hire a full- or even part-time employee to do it?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you are limiting the potential of your company by not giving your call answering issues the attention they deserve. It may be more cost-effective and, ultimately, more profitable for you to hire an answering service and to let professionals handle this aspect of your business.
Choosing an answering service may become tedious and time-consuming; shopping around, comparing prices and services, then determining which company impressed you the most can take time and other resources. While it is important to pick a company that you like, it is more important to pick a company that your customers will love. The primary function of an answering service will be to interact with your callers, so it is necessary that the answering service you choose is able to relate to them professionally, as well as personally.
Here are a few tips that will help you choose the BEST answering service for your company:
- Go with an answering service that speaks your language! Ensure that the answering service representatives sound similar to you and your customers or prospects. Every so often, some answer services will “off-shore” its staff, leading to a disconnect as each culture acts and speaks differently. Imagine how a potential customer would feel when they call to speak to your office and then find themselves speaking to someone in India or another international location totally unrelated to your company and its business. In addition to the language issue, you will wan to confirm that the answering service serves your industry; this way they will be familiar with industry-specific terms, questions and types of customers. This knowledge can go a long way in building your callers’ and customers’ confidence.
- Go 24/7! If you are going to hire an answering service, why not expand your office hours to 24/7? This does not mean you will need to be in the office at 3am nor does it mean you will have to call the customer back at 4am (that is, of course, unless you want to and/or you are able to). What it means is that if, at any time of the day (or night) someone calls your business, there will be representatives waiting to answer your call. Also, keep in mind that an answering service’s main purpose is to answer your calls when you cannot, so it will benefit your company even more when the answering service is open when you are closed.
- Find care! It is easy to find uncaring workers and individuals who do not pride themselves in a job well done. When looking for the answering service that best meets your needs, you will want to make sure that the company and its professionals will represent your business just as you and your internal team would.
Most Answering Services operate similar to a telephone service provider such as cell phone carriers. Typically Answering Services include an “allowance” of usage; an allowance is the maximum amount of minutes you are able to use each month without acquiring overage fees. If the monthly allowance is exceeded, additional minutes will be charged at a flat rate known as “overage.”
At Answering Service Care, we aim to eliminate surprises, so we encourage our clients to monitor usage and to contact their Account Manager to adjust their plans if and when they find they are significantly over or under the monthly allowance.
Our Answering Service Care clients can customize their means of message delivery. In other words, they can choose the delivery method for their answering service messages.
These message receipt options are:
|You can call the Answering Service for Your Messages|
|The Answering Service can call you with Your Messages|
|Record Your Messages and listen to them 24/7|
|Send Your Messages to Multiple Recipients using multiple options|
Answering Service Care allows for customization at every level of our answering service. If you notice that any facet of your answering service plan that does not meet all of your needs, you can speak with an Answering Service Care Specialist who will help you create a plan that is best for you.
A customized greeting is a prerecorded announcement that is the initial greeting played to your callers. It can be done in your own voice or it can be professionally done. Customized greetings will assist your company in establishing a strong sense of identity, callers will know that they have reached the right company and they will be assured that their call will be answered immediately.
Some additional benefits of a customized greeting:
- Calls will be answered immediately.
- Confirms to the caller that they have dialed the correct number and have reached the right company.
- Once the recording has completed, a friendly live Answering Service Professional will greet the caller and continue until the call has been completed.
- Assurance that the company name will always be pronounced correctly.
- A customized greeting could also be used to up-sell or inform callers of specials, current promotions or any additional important information.
- The ability to record a customized answering service greeting in your own voice.
- There is no additional cost for these customized answering service greetings.
- Proper call handling techniques will positively impact the way prospects and/or clients view the company.
Answering Service Care understands the importance of an excellent first impression. Businesses like yours cannot afford to have their answering service receptionists mispronounce names. At Answering Service Care, we believe mispronunciation is a dishonor to you and your company, so we do all we can (and then some!) to ensure that we honor your name.
We train answering service professionals on how to pronounce names correctly. The recommended answer phrase includes the use of an initial personalized greeting, after which a friendly, courteous live Answering Service professional will continue the call and complete the message. This method provides assurance that the phone will be answered immediately, that the caller will know he has reached the right company and that the company name will always sound accurate.
Additionally, when we first start the answering service with a new client, we ask for a list of names and terminologies that are commonly mispronounced in that client’s industry; that way we can expose our Answering Service professionals to these terms and words right from the start. We attempt to familiarize our answering service professionals with any complex language, so that they sound as knowledgeable and competent as an in-house receptionist. Each client’s account notes will also include the phonetic spelling of the company name, so that our professionals get it right every time.
Answering Service Care provides multiple ways to connect to us in the event of an untimely disaster. Please refer to our call forwarding page to learn more about the various methods you may use to connect to us. Our Disaster Recovery solutions will ensure that your business stays open when it is supposed to be open, even during a storm.
As an Answering Service Care client, you deserve the most efficient answering service for the most cost effective price. To learn more about our pricing and how to save money when hiring an answering service, you can speak directly with one of our Business Consultants who will customize a plan that works best for you and your company. We will track your call volume and the length of your personalized script, and try to scale down wherever it is possible. It is important to remember that hiring a 24/7 answering service saves the thousands of dollars that would be otherwise spent on a 40-hour-a-week receptionist.
At Answering Service Care we strive to eliminate surprise fees and bills. To help minimize your monthly usage, be sure to test other methods of forwarding your lines to us. Answering services typically include an allowance of usage, whenever you call us to connect to our network; the time spent is automatically deducted from your allowance. By subscribing to other methods of call forwarding techniques, your allowance is better utilized.
While our clients are located throughout the United States and globally, our operators are all based solely in the U.S. All are fluent English speakers, and many are bi-lingual in Spanish and English.
As soon as we take your message, we relay it to you. We do not consider the answering service process complete until this important step is taken.
Because each script is customized, the answer to this question is dependent on what our answering service client requests. We ask for the caller’s phone number if this is what our client has requested; however, there is no Caller ID used by our answering service agents.
While we can skip the personalized greeting and send the call directly to an agent, we encourage the use of personalized greetings to our answering service clients for several reasons. Most importantly, we want to make sure that when answering the phone, the agent correctly pronounces the client’s business name.
This is important question, as compliance with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is of the utmost importance when working with answering service clients in the medical and healthcare fields. We are pleased to say that Answering Service Care is fully HIPAA-compliant and that we are able to work closely and effectively with your medical office or company. For more information and specifics on HIPAA and how it related to answering services, read our HIPAA page.
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