In this modern age, technology has never been more abundant. It has enabled businesses to serve more customers worldwide and to improve the quality of their products and services. It has also raised customer service standards to astronomical levels.
Businesses like Costco, Apple, Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon are known for providing exceptional customer service, and they have set new standards. Customer expectations are now higher than ever. To keep up with these big customer service leaders, many small businesses are partnering with telephone answering services.
Answering services have been the secret weapon of many successful small businesses for decades. They increase productivity and reduce staffing costs, all while offering friendly, professional service to your customers and prospects. Below we will explain three different types of answering services, and help you determine which is the best fit for your business.
What are the different types of call answering services?
Business owners have three main options when selecting the type of answering service they would like to partner with:
Live answering services, also known as virtual receptionist services, provide trained live agents who work remotely to manage a business’ incoming calls. Virtual receptionists represent your company in a professional manner and handle many of the tasks of a traditional receptionist, such as appointment setting, answering general questions, sending follow up emails, routing calls, and qualifying leads. In most cases, callers don’t even know they aren’t talking to someone who is working in your office.
Some businesses that can benefit from the compassionate coverage a virtual receptionist service offers include (but are not limited to):
- Medical practices
- Dental offices
- Funeral homes
- Legal offices
- Accounting and finance businesses
- Real estate brokerages
Automated phone answering services, also known as interactive voice response (IVR) systems, interact with callers using voice or keyed-in responses. For example, when you call a university and a robot tells you to “press ‘1’ for admissions, ‘2’ for tuition information,” and so on.
Automated answering services don’t offer the warm, friendly assistance that a live agent can, but they are a more cost-efficient option for businesses where most callers are looking for immediate assistance on basic matters, or to be forwarded to a specific department or extension.
Some businesses that may be a good fit for an automated phone answering system include (but are not limited to):
- Universities and education institutions
- Consulting firms
Call center services are ideal for businesses that need help handling a large amount of incoming calls or wish to make a lot of outbound calls. Whether it’s your busy season, or you just launched a big lead generation campaign, a call center can help with your sales, marketing, and customer service needs.
The live agents at a call center typically work from pre-written scripts, and it’s more obvious to callers that they are not speaking to someone in your office. However, it is still more personalized than the robots of an automated service.
Some businesses that may be a good fit for a call center include (but are not limited to):
- Insurance companies
- Property management companies
- Service contractors