You’ve decided you need a small business answering service — congratulations!

Making the decision to outsource your incoming phone calls will save you money, save you time and help your business make a better impression on potential customers, clients or patients. But, sometimes, finding the right live receptionist answering service for your business isn’t always easy.

Here are the next steps you need to take once you realize that a small business answering service will help you take your company to the next level:.

1. Determine how you’ll need to use your answering service.

Small business answering services offer a wide variety of services to help you with phone coverage – so you’ll want to determine exactly what you’ll need before you start shopping for services. For example, if your typical incoming calls are orders for products, you’ll want a service that can handle order-taking. But if you find yourself with a lot of customer service-type calls, your small business answering service should be able to offer support to callers. Write down a list of your typical call types to help you understand what you need to find in an answering service.

2. Find a small business answering service that speaks your (and your callers’) language.

The primary job of your small business answering service is to communicate with your callers – so you need to be sure that answering service representatives sound similar to you and your typical callers. Some companies will “off-shore” their receptionist staff which can put a language and cultural barrier between callers and your company. When a customer calls in, he or she should feel like the virtual receptionist is working in your office – and not from overseas.

3. Call and ask important questions of any potential small business answering service.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices for a small business answering service to those that can provide the services you need with receptionists that speak your language, it’s time to do some more digging. Call their customer service or sales line and ask about the set up and monthly maintenance fees, as well as any processes you’ll need to be aware of as a client.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Do answering service clients receive call messages in real-time?
  • How can I receive messages from your service?
  • How are virtual receptionists trained and screened?
  • Can I customize what virtual receptionists say to my callers based on specific circumstances?

Getting answers to these questions – and more – is essential when you are choosing a small business answering service.

Don’t be afraid to make the move to a small business answering service. With these three key steps, you can find a virtual receptionist to free up your time and improve your customer service.