Many different industries use call answering services, but how do they work? Is a live answering service just what your business has been needing? What’s the difference between a call center and an answering service, after all??
In this week’s post, we’ll discuss the different types of answering services and which may be the right service for your small business.
Categories of Call Answering Services
Automated Call Answering Services
Automated answering services work best with touch tone phones, as they usually request that the caller press certain buttons in response to prompts. An automated answering service is a good option for those who would like an inexpensive method of call screening to give out general information to their callers. Many large companies use these plans for automated customer service.
The options usually go something like the following:
“Press one for business hours . Two for directions. Press three for the company directory. Four to speak to a representative. Press 5 to hear directory listings and leave a message.
Live Call Answering Services
Live answering services are starkly different from an automated call answering services in that the customer will immediately be connected with someone who may be able to answer the call and meet the needs of the caller. These answering services rely on a team of virtual receptionists that are knowledgeable about the industries and small businesses that they service, so they are able to help customers and take messages just as a good in-house receptionist would be able to. Because live answering services have trained, live receptionists, those who answer the phone will be able to determine which calls are urgent and for which to a well-written note will do.
Many people get confused over the difference between call answering services and call centers. They both consist of large rooms full of people answering the phones and handling incoming calls, right? It may seem as if call centers and answering service are one in the same, but they are not. A few differences include:
- Call centers generally serve one large company, and are much larger.
- Call answering services are generally a contracted out company that deals with incoming calls, scheduling reminders and phone message taking for a variety of businesses.
- While answering services may employ between ten and twenty virtual receptionists, there can be around 200 cell center employees at one facility.
- Generally calls answered by an answering service require decision making on the part of the receptionist and require additional steps beyond information gathering.
The confusion often begins with answering services referring to themselves as call centers. We’ve been in the business for over 50 years and have always been known as a call answering service. You’ve got to call a spade a spade!
Why you should go with a Live Call Answering Service
The automated option is, at times, the cheaper option. But, not always! Sometimes an automated call answering service ends up being costly. This is because some of the equipment and software comes at a premium. Technically the only benefit of the other option isn’t even a given.
But a live call answering service isn’t just the lesser of the two evils. They can be very beneficial for not only the business owner and the customer, but also the entire team.
What a live call answering service can do for your business:
- Reduce call wait time
- Handle the holiday rush
- Call screening services
- After-hours receptionist services
- A resource to better manage your time
- …and many other benefits you wouldn’t expect
How do Live Call Answering Services Work?
When your customer dials your business phone number, their call will be answered promptly by a virtual receptionist. This virtual receptionist will have been trained to anticipate the needs and frequent questions for callers specific to your business. They’re trained to work with your scheduling software and take notes that can reach you through a variety of ways.
Callers won’t even realize they haven’t directly reached the office that they’ve called then they are connected to a virtual receptionist. Because of this, a live call answering service is a good option for those who are sole proprietors, own startup companies, or are telecommuters. Having the appearance of a in-house receptionist will make your business seem more professional.
When someone calls your place of business, the receptionist will see upon their computer screen which number the caller dialed. They’ll know ahead of time which business the call is for, so they will answer with the corresponding greeting. You need not worry if they’ll answer the phone with the same greeting as a different place of business that the answering service company services.
The virtual receptionists working for the answering service also have specific training pertaining to each business that they serve. They know general information about the business services provided, and can answer many questions that your customer may have.
Everyone is good at something, and team members within a business weren’t always hired for their speaking-over-the-phone skills. Some dread it. Hiring an answering service allows the work of answering the phone to professional receptionists.
What does this mean for you and your team? This means that your team members won’t have to do the double duty of answering calls along with their predetermined list of responsibilities. Because someone else is already taking care of that. For the business owner and their teammates, this looks like more productive and focus workdays. If you think that sounds like peace of mind, you’re right.
Apply this to your small business
Whether you find yourself unable to keep up with all of the calls coming in or if you’d just like to add a higher level of professionalism to your small business, you may want to consider hiring a live answering service. Sure, there are other options. You could hire an in-house receptionist or use an automated call answering service. But, if you want to wow your customers and make life easier for your team, a live answering service is the direction to go.