Offering Great Customer Service
How can you provide excellent customer service to your prospective clients when they call you? Happy customers need more than just a pleasant voice and greeting messages. A company representative in charge of its phone answering services must be ready to tackle questions and queries in a very efficient manner. They should be able to answer customers in an effective way and make the responses convincing for them.
Every company may not have this kind of a team or staff. This is because there are many other tasks that require time and attention. For companies that have a restricted budget, such as small and medium businesses, an answering service could be the secret weapon to success.
The economic benefits of outsourcing phone answering services will help you deliver excellent customer service akin to a large organization. Some advantages of outsourcing in business include boost in revenue, increase in customers, and reduction in the stress of running a business. We give you some more information and tips in the guide below.
What is a Phone Answering Service?
Simply put, an answering service is one that can manage inbound and outbound business communications for companies. This can include attending to phone calls, answering mails, responding to texts, call transferring, etc.
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This is an important definition because when spoken about immediately, one would consider an answering service as only something that enables answering calls. However, it is much more than just this. There are different names given to answering services and some of these are also used interchangeably. Some of these are as follows.
Virtual Receptionist Service
This can be used interchangeably with an answering service because companies who provide this facility are performing the same task.
Automated Answering Service
This does not need live agent support and they are technically not answering services but more of Interactive Voice Response providers. This service lets callers leave messages or hear automated prompts that give them more information. A great example of such a service is the one used by banks.
Internet Answering Service
This kind of answering service also includes email and chat support services, and social media responses, all of which are internet based. They are different from the other answering services.
These have all capabilities which an answering service offers. Call centers employ a larger number of people and there are dedicated agents who respond to specific queries as well. There are several call center outsourcing services available today.
How Answering Services Work
There may be days when your business is closed or times when you may not be able to answer customer calls. This is where answering services come in and ensure that no calls from customers – existing and prospective – are missed. This is how an answering service works.
The customer dials the designated telephone number and the call is automatically redirected to the answering service provider.
This is picked by a trained customer service agent
This agent then transfers the call to the respective staff, takes messages or even answers simple questions depending on what kind of call it is.
Call management by the answering service provider would largely depend on the business and its needs. There is a comprehensive onboarding process that you will undertake with your outsourcing partner. This will define the objectives broadly and ensure that callers are provided with the right experience while also helping them with the information they need.
Some components of such an onboarding process include the following:
- Communication between you and your answering service
- Times when the agent is required to take a message
- How the messages are delivered to the team
A successful onboarding is also one where your business objectives are properly communicated in order for your callers to assist the customers adequately. If needed, take the time out to explain them your business inside-out and train the callers on what the brand stands for and approach taken.
Types of Phone Answering Services
Before we talk about this, it is important to understand the difference between inbound and outbound call center services.
An inbound call center service is one that receives incoming calls. The most basic aspect of this kind of service is that an agent waits for calls to come instead of making the calls actively. An inbound answering service helps customers with some kind of assistance – could be related to tech support, product, or placing an order.
There is a need for agents to be trained with providing solutions to problems and respond to requests quickly and efficiently. An inbound call center’s focus is only on customer service above anything else.
As the name suggests, an outbound call center service is the exact opposite. The agents themselves make calls instead of waiting for them. The focus of an outbound call center service is sales and agents are given a list of contacts to call. Agents in an outbound call center have targets to meet and actively contact potential customers to meet them. Inbound or outbound, there are four major types of answering services. Though we have mentioned them earlier, we will look at them in more detail.
Live Answering Services
These are not only the most common but also most popular. In this kind of a service, an actual person or several people are given the task of taking calls on behalf of the company and handling them according to a set of guidelines. Live answering services usually comprise taking messages, setting appointments, and some bit of customer support. This kind of answering service works for most businesses given that they can handle large and a wide range of call volumes.
Internet Answering Services
Internet answering services, or online answering services, are the right fit for e-commerce or web-only businesses. This is because for them, a lot of the activity takes place online. An internet answering service usually includes features such as access to messages online, live web chat support, web inquiries, and order processing online. Although a live answering service may be right for a web-only business, it may also not have some of the features needed in e-commerce. Online answering services can also be used interchangeably with live answering services.
Automated Answering Services
This is a good option for people who are looking for 24/7 answering service. So, they will have an automated answering service even if customers were to call at 3 am. There is an automated menu message or menu when you call the company which indicates what is to be done. It is a good option for companies who receive a sizeable number of calls asking for basic info. These services can also be mixed with a live answering service. This will be a good combination for companies that wish to give callers the option of leaving a message and then receiving a call at a later point.
Call Center Services
A call center service is suited for companies that require help with handling high volumes of calls. This could either be for lead generation during a busy season or as a help to the existing customer service representatives. Call center services are also the best bet for companies who require a lot of phone time in order to qualify a lead, take an order, or even help a customer. In such companies, there need to be many people working the phone so that the customers are not kept waiting.
Benefits of Phone Answering Services
It is time to now discuss why or how a call answering service can help you and the company – more so if you have just started out. The benefits are more than just a pleasant interaction.
A call answering service can prove cost effective for your company when compared to hiring a receptionist. Calculate how much you will spend in searching for, hiring and training a new manpower and their salary versus a service that is self-sufficient. Add to this the fact that it is not possible for a receptionist to be at the desk 24×7.
Professional Service Always
You need to be sure that the answering service you have in place is able to justify the professional standards you have set for your company. Even if you hire a receptionist working full time, you can never be sure that they will answer pleasantly always. A company should have control over how their calls are answered to ensure better customer service. There are plenty of examples online about how bad live answering services have disrupted sales and targets in a company. However, when you have automated menus, the customers will be able to get exactly what they want and get their queries answered as well.
A More Established Presence
This is true even if you are a small business. Imagine having a call answering service that gives the caller a menu of options from which they get connected to different verticals. Even if there is only one designated person for every vertical, the caller gets choices. It will further establish the credibility of your business.
Give Time to Other Things
Accept it. You cannot be everywhere and take care of everything. The last thing you would want to do is spend hours on end, answering calls. However, with a call answering service in place, it will be easier for you to focus on other tasks at hand.
Work Effectively Across Teams
With remote working becoming more popular, it is possible for companies to use this trend to their advantage. But how can you be sure that two or more team members are able to communicate effectively with each other? This is where a call answering service comes into the picture. By calling just one company number, team members can get in touch with others, no matter what their location is. With this answering service, it will be easier to select the department or individual everyone wants to reach out to. Calls can be routed to where needed and everyone responsible can answer them too.
Receive Messages Directly
It is possible to retrieve messages instantly when you have a virtual receptionist. The voicemail can be sent to your email and you can then get the voicemail transcription. You will also be able to scan your messages easily – differentiating between who wants to sell to you versus who wants to buy your products or utilize your services.
Make Calls More Efficient
Imagine if you are a service provider. The time you would save if all the requests come in automatically would be more than having to answer every call yourself. Such automated services will also make it sound like your entire staff is in the same place, giving a cohesive image of your company.
No Added Phone Hardware
An automated menu does not require any additional equipment and the existing phone lines are more than enough. This also translates to saving money. You can actually get rid of that clunky answering machine but keep the phone number intact.
Reduction in Waiting Time
A lot of times, callers who are trying to get in touch with a live person need to wait for a long time, which can become cumbersome. However, with an automated answering service, this problem is eliminated. The menu option allows them to pick the department or person they want to reach out to and leave a message in case they are not around. This reduces frustration and makes sure that the customer feels valued. Speedy service will after all create a good impression about your business, something that is critical.
No Calls Missed
For any business, especially an upcoming one, it can be disastrous to miss a call, more so if that call was to translate to a lead. As a business, you would not want to miss a possible customer. With an automated call answering service, the caller can easily leave a message, and the system will capture information about them automatically. Customers will never be left listening to a ringing phone and can avoid long wait times. An answering service ensures that all calls are answered and that the callers have a personalized and professional experience.
No More Distractions
Statistics show that an average employee is interrupted 56 times per day and spends about 2 hours each day recovering from distractions. The average worker wastes 60 hours of time due to distractions per month. Phones can be a major workplace distraction, and this can result in massive loss of productivity. However, a phone call answering service ensures that a specific time is set aside for answering phones. You can opt for the time that is best suited to you. When you are in meetings, etc., this automated call service will ensure that your customers are directed to the right person or department.
Gives Control to Callers
Studies show that 55% of customers prefer automated self-service. With an automated call service, the choice will be in the hands of the customer and they can choose where to direct their call. This reflects how customers want to interact with businesses.
No Matter What, Calls Keep Coming
Even if your office is closed due to some reason, the answering service keeps working constantly. Even if there are untoward or unexpected circumstances, this kind of an automated service is an indication that you are always open for business and that customers are valued.
Reduction in Managerial Work
There is a lot of management involved in working with a receptionist or hiring an answering service. You will need to train them, monitor them for some months, and train them more as necessary. You will also need to review their performance from time to time and face any concerns or questions – not to mention the repercussions of a poorly attended call. However, with a call answering service, all these managerial aspects can be avoided. All you will need to do is to set up the service as per your preferences and perhaps update it once in a while according to your requirement.
Call answering services are flexible. They also help with several functions. For instance, the service can be used as an informational line, allowing callers to get details such as the office working hours, the services provided, directions to office and other aspects. What’s more is that an efficient call answering service, also gives fax-to-email service (both outbound and inbound). Nowadays, these services also offer apps to make mobile communication easier. They also have virtual fax services and easy-to-use forwarding systems that allow you to pick up your phone when you are available or inform when you are busy.
Services Specific to Your Industry
Call answering services are not one size fits all. They make sure that the support and services for each client reflect their needs. For instance, if it is a medical clinic, then the system must be set up to let other doctor’s offices reach you. It will also enable patients to easily schedule appointments or access information in the afterhours. One of the many advantages of outsourcing customer services is that they understand different industries and are willing to listen to the needs of customers.
Make and Save Money
The best phone answering service will get your calls handled in the most efficient manner. Having calls routed and handled faster can save time and money. Additionally, satisfied callers are more likely to turn into successful leads, thus growing your income.
An excellent call answering service will have the highest quality standards. This ensures that the service represents your company well to every caller. A phone answering service for small businesses must be just as impressive as one for larger businesses, as this will help callers take your company seriously.
Manage the Company, Not the Calls
With a proper answering service, you can focus more on central business concerns. An answering service also gives you and your employees more control over when and how calls are taken and thus, more control over time management. Not only is a call service more efficient, but it also allows other departments to be more efficient as well.
Satisfy Your Callers
When callers have to wait, they may hang up and choose another company instead of yours. A caller who is kept waiting for too long or is forced to leave a message will feel frustrated. If calling your company left a potential customer frustrated, will they be willing to give you a second chance? Once again, a good answering service saves the day by keeping callers happy!
Keep Your Company and Customers Connected
A professional phone answering service keeps the lines of communication open with your customers even when your company is closed. For example, in the case of a natural disaster that causes a temporary closure, your answering service can notify customers of what is happening and when they can expect your business to reopen.
It is easy to see why answering services are increasingly essential. A quality call service can save time, money, and effort for almost any company.
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Running List of Calls, etc.
The best call answering services enable to keep a record of all calls that come into your account. They log every incoming call regardless of whether the caller spoke or not. This makes it easy for representatives to later see the amount of business call traffic and helps with the analytics. It is also easy to review who is calling and when since there is a record and understand why they called.
This information can be used by businesses when they are creating a service or product offering, informational content and so on. It can also help modify the call answering service accordingly. Customers and clients will be appreciative of the small steps that your business has taken to give them a personalized experience and information they need. Your team will also spend less time in repeating the same instructions to every customer every time and focus their attention on activities that generate revenue.
In closing, a call answering service that is suited to your business needs will not only engage customers positively but also mean increased revenue and traction for it. Speak to us for more information on phone answering service outsourcing.