If you are looking for an answering service company to handle your customer communications, schedule appointments and help with other tasks, you may be wondering how exactly how it works. Here, we explain what an answering service is and how they work, as well as some tasks they can help you with that you may not have considered.

What is an answering service?

Simply put, an answering service is a service that can manage both inbound and outbound business communications for a variety of industries including:

In addition to answering a business’ phone calls, a live agent from an answering service can respond to emails, reply to text messages, transfer calls, and more.

If your business is receiving more calls than it can handle, or if you need to be available outside of your regular office hours, a live answering service can provide tremendous value. Outsourcing to a call answering service offers a level of 24-hour coverage and customer support, without having to hire additional employees.

Some businesses use a call answering service for additional assistance during the busy holiday season or in the event of an emergency or natural disaster, while others rely on one full-time. The most common reasons that businesses outsource to an answering service are to save money on in-house employees and to keep up with a high volume of incoming calls.

How does an answering service work?

Answering services use call forwarding, which is something your business likely has available on its phone. When activated, forwarding automatically sends your phone calls to another destination (similar to the way an email forwarder works). The answering service that you work with will provide your business with a number unique to your account. To send your calls to the live answering service, you would forward your lines to the number provided. This way, when your business receives phone calls, instead of the calls ringing to your office or cell phone, they will ring at the answering service office for a live agent to pick up.

It is also possible for you to customize when you want your calls to be answered by a live agent, and when you wish to answer them yourself. For example, if you only want the answering service to handle your calls during non-business hours and on weekends, you can automatically forward your phone line at a particular time. Then, you can have your calls ring directly to your office or cell phone at a designated time.

What else can an answering service do?

Despite its name, a live answering service can help your business with much more than just answering your phone calls. Some of the additional tasks an answering service can help with include:

  • Managing and streamlining your appointment booking in real-time with appointment scheduling
  • Helping you better serve Spanish-speaking callers with bilingual operators
  • Following up phone conversations with email marketing
  • Making sure your business is covered in the event of an emergency