Hiring a professional answering service is a great way to improve your customer service, provide around the clock support, and to increase revenue through fewer missed sales opportunities. However, not all professional answering services are created equally. When a customer calls your business and is routed to your professional answering service, they represent you. The customer does not distinguish the service they get from your business and that of the professional answering service. Therefore, hiring the wrong answering service could be devastating to your business. Before hiring a business telephone answering service, we recommend asking the following questions, to ensure you find the best fit for your business:
- How long has your call handling service been in business?
As with every part of life, there are some aspects of running a successful live phone answering service that can only be acquired through years of experience. The longer a small business answering service has been chugging along, providing great service while keeping a good reputation, the more confidence you can have but they will do a great job representing your business.
- What training do your operators undergo before they are put on the phones?
Every answering service has different training procedures, but the answer you get to this question should give you confidence that the representatives talking to your customers have the tools to be helpful and maintain your business’s reputation.
A few training aspects that should be in the answering service provider’s response include how long their employees go through training, how they are evaluated before “graduating”, and what standards they are held to. Not only should the representatives on the phones be trained to provide great customer service, they should be expected to pass grammar, spelling, and typing aptitude tests, and should also receive a certain amount of training in the field that they are representing.
- What quality control measures are in place?
Every time you are connected to an automated answering service, you hear the message “Your call is being recorded for quality and training purposes.” Make sure that the answering service you hire actually does record the calls, and that you have access to any call recording regarding your business. This can be used to ensure the quality of phone calls yourself, and also in case there are any issues with what a customer is told by an answering service agent.
- What’s security measures are in place?
Depending on the nature of your business, your customer accounts may involve very sensitive information about your clients, such as their address, payment information, or even their Social Security numbers. As your utmost concern is probably the privacy and security of your clients, ensuring that this information is protected is probably extremely important to you.
A few good security standards that a call center should have in place include:
- Background checks on anyone answering the phones, or with access to customer records.
- Locked bins for material destruction services, so that sensitive customer information is properly destroyed.
- Ongoing audits of security procedures.
- What hours do you provide service?
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to use a 24 hour answering service. Even if you don’t need someone handling the phones for extended hours right now, this is a great factor to consider prior to choosing a company in case you expand in the future. It’s easier to add extended hours later than it is to completely change providers if the need arises in the future.
While we’re on the subject, you should also consider the pricing model for extended answering service hours. Some companies charge a flat rate, and some companies charge by volume. If you only expect one or two calls being handled in the middle of the night, using a company who has a flexible plan is a good idea.
Incorporating a professional answering service into your business has a lot of benefits. Your customers have access to live support as soon as they need it. You are able to focus on running your business rather than being tethered to the phones. You have the opportunity to increase sales. However, choosing the best phone answering service for your business is critical for it to be successful.