Picking the right answering service for your business can be a difficult process.

You’ve got to collect quotes, then figure out how to compare one company’s apples to another’s oranges, plus try to guess how many minutes you’re going to use every month as your operation grows. It’s a lot to handle for any owner of a small- to medium-sized business.

Although the cost equation is important to your final decision, there’s another way to help narrow your list. The top answering services all share some key traits that you can use as a guide.

Important Characteristics for the Best Answering Services

An answering service should act as a member of your team, so it’s important that you get the right one the first time. Otherwise, you may experience both financial and creative setbacks from all the frustration the wrong match can brew.

These are some great characteristics to watch for in your next answering service partner:

  • Knowing what you’re actually spending your money on, how well operators are trained and what’s being said to your callers are all vital components of a good working relationship. A great answering service will explain all the charges on their quotes and not be upset if you ask a lot of questions or seek additional information.
  • Of all the traits an answering service could have, responsiveness is up there in importance. After all, if they’re not responding well to your inquiries, how well are they going to treat your customers? Either they’re too busy already to handle more capacity or they simply don’t care, which is even worse. A responsive answering service gets back to you promptly with answers to any questions you may have.
  • Some answering services have just a few packages and that’s all they’ll offer. You don’t have any choice in what services you pay for because everyone pays for the same thing. If you need more than the basic answering services, like appointment scheduling, for example, you should be able to add it on with an additional charge. Flexible answering services can help your company grow and grow.
  • Does your potential future answering service lock up promptly at 5 pm? That’s not going to cut it for most businesses. Having 24/7 answering service coverage is becoming the norm, which means you have to also have that sort of telephone coverage to compete. Find out how well a potential answering service covers those twilight hours before you commit. Depending on your industry, you may need specialized operators to handle medical calls, for example, which may be another concern if that team isn’t staffed all day and night.

The top answering services are easy to identify when you know what to look for. Partnering with one of them can ensure that they’re servicing your customers just like you would if you could answer every call yourself. With your partner taking care of callers, you can focus on growing your business and achieving your financial goals.