Telephone answering services – answering services, for short – are companies that take calls for other businesses. In addition to simply answering calls and working as receptionists, answering services also perform a variety of other tasks, including appointment scheduling, customer service, order entry, service dispatching, and more.
For small businesses looking to enhance their image, improve customer service, and boost efficiency without drastically increasing their costs, an answering service may be the perfect solution. So, how do you know if an answering service is right for your business?
Examine your needs
Before you can decide whether an answering service could be helpful to your business, you need to examine how the phone is being used in your organization and how those processes could be improved.
For example, say you are a small HVAC company. You have a few people that work in your office, and a few technicians that handle work.
On a typical day, you probably receive several calls inquiring about your services, a couple more scheduling appointments, one or two confirming or changing their appointment, and a handful of other calls from vendors, telemarketers, and the like.
Now, because of your size, you likely maintain regular office hours. Since there’s a need for your service after hours, it may be beneficial to provide the same level of support after hours as you do during the day. Thus, you have a need for a service that answer calls and provide service similar to what your office does during the day.
Compare to answering service capabilities
Once you have examined what your business needs and where telephone support could be useful, you need to look at different answering services and consider whether they can realistically provide what you are looking for.
While telephone answering services are typically able to provide similar services, some are more advanced than others. For example, some services may only take and deliver messages while others may integrate with your business software and perform more detailed tasks.
If you need really advanced work, like technical support, then an answering service may not be able to meet your needs.
Is there an overlap?
Now that you know what you could benefit from and the capabilities of answering services, look for overlaps. If answering services can perform the services you need, then it may be a beneficial relationship. Since answering services typically charge based on usage, they are a cost effective option for companies who need support but don’t want to pay the cost of hiring and staffing additional employees.
About the Author
Melanie Cartwell is a blogger with Continental Message Solution, a leading provider of small business telephone answering services and call center outsourcing solutions.