Many businesses have discovered the major benefits that accrue to their business by using a professional Telephone Answering Service and the increase flow of business that can result. Choosing the right service for you can be vital…
As we all know you only “get one opportunity to create a first impression”. In a lot of cases the first contact a potential client experiences is when the pick up the phone to contact your business. If they get through to a voicemail, answering machine or even worse if the phone rings out the first impression is not going to positive. A survey by BT discovered that 70% of people do not leave messages on voicemail and answering machines they want to speak to a person. If your phone is answered by a professional Personal Assistant, who knows about your business and products and who deals efficiently with the call the vital first impression is created.
So What Are The Benefits?
Using the right Telephone answering Service is very cost effective when compared to hiring a full time receptionist. With most services you pay for the number of calls you receive. Cost savings of up to 70% are not unusual.
Using right answering Service means that you NEVER EVER Miss an important phone call.
Most answering services provide emergency or contingency cover, which allows you to use their services only when you need them, i.e. Illness cover, maternity leave, power outages etc.
Using an answering service can free you to spend time on your business not in your business-meeting customers, selling your product or service with the comfort that you are not missing phone calls.
Using an answering service allows you to turn off your mobile phone when you are in important meetings knowing that it will still be answered.
What to look for from your answering service
Are all of your calls answered in YOUR BUSINES NAME?
Are their staff fully trained professionals? Your calls should be treated as important and be handled by properly trained PA’s.
Does your answering service provide the service directly themselves or do they outsource? Some answering services subcontract their answering to large call centres.
Does your service customise the service to meet your exact needs? No two businesses are the same so “one size fits all“ may not suit you.
How does your service relay messages? Your message should be relayed to you instantly the way you want them by SMS Text or Email. They should also be able to offer Virtual Receptionist Services which allow calls to be transferred to your DDI (direct dial in number), alternate landline or mobile phones?
What are the normal working hours that your service operates? Do they take calls during lunch hours? Can they provide extended hours and a full 24 x 7 x 365 service?
Does your service send you an end of day report giving details of all messages received that day?
Does your service screen calls that you don’t want to pay for? i.e. Cold Sales Calls
Does your service only answer limited questions on your behalf or put a time limit on the length of calls?
Can your service provider provide additional services if you want them? Some providers provide a range of services which compliment their Telephone Answering Services such as Business Accommodation Address, Diary Management, Appointment Setting, Enquiry and Order Processing, Payment Processing, Outbound Calling, Information Lines, Geographic and Lo-call Numbers.
Does your Service provider manage your costs for you, ensuring that you pay lower tariffs when call volumes drop and that you are always on the most cost effective tariff?
The main pitfall is choosing the wrong service for you.
Some providers cannot customise their service to meet your exact needs. The old adage applies to Telephone Answering Services “Pay peanuts get monkeys” Do your homework before you decide on the service provider for you. Ask for a Free Trial of the service. Find out what contingency plans your provider has should they have a breakdown of service. Using a large call centre to answer your calls can mean that the same person rarely answers calls twice. Using a small contact management service eliminates this and allows the PA’s to learn about your business and to build up a rapport with your callers.
When you Google “Telephone Answering Services” for Ireland, you will get over 5000 results. Many are not relevant but the range of choice is quite extensive. There are a number of providers whose core business is telephone answering and a range of others who offer the service as an add on to their core business such as Serviced Office Providers, concierge services etc.
Dealing with a service provider whose core business is answering phones can have major benefits depending on what exactly you expect form the service. Where possible meet the people who are going to be representing your business, the PA’s or Call Handlers. Will your service provider allow you to call in to their offices to brief the PA’s on your business and how to handle calls, will they allow you to contact your PA’s by phone to update them on when you may not be available or changes in your business.
Costs vary from provider to provider with the majority having a range of tariffs each of which include a fixed number of messages with an additional charge for excess messages. Some providers charge a fixed charge regardless of the number of calls received but one would wonder how they can guarantee quality service. In relation to costs many businesses call levels fluctuate each month with peaks and troughs depending on the season. Some providers manage your costs for you moving you up and down their tariffs so as to ensure you are always getting the most cost effective rate.
Again I would mention that adage “Pay Peanuts Get Monkeys”