Searching for a telephone answering service to work with isn't an easy task, especially if you don't know what to look for. Your customers and prospects are the heart of your business, and finding an answering service you can trust can be time consuming. After all, you don't want to lose business by hiring the wrong answering service, and it's important that you find one that's trustworthy, professional, and experienced. On top of that, you may still be asking yourself what a telephone answering service can do for you, and how using one will make your life easier. Finding the right answering service for your business is a matter of knowing what to look for and asking the right questions.If this is your first time looking into an answering service or if you just need a bit of a refresher, here are four things to consider before hiring a telephone answering service for your business:
How it will affect your bottom line
If you're thinking about hiring an answering service, there's a good chance you sense revenue opportunities are being missed because you and your staff simply can't get to every call. People are much less likely to leave voice-mail these days, and by providing a live person to answer each and every call, you greatly increase your chances of gaining new business, or more business from existing clients. Before making the decision to hire an answering service, it's important that you sit down and determine the specific reasons you feel you need a service; it may be to capture more opportunities, provide a better client experience, free up staff to focus on other priorities, or a combination of reasons. Have an understanding of those reasons and what they are worth to you so you have a better sense of how your answering service investment will benefit your organization. Most businesses find that a telephone answering service is cost effective and beneficial to their business, but it's important that you take the time to lay this out for yourself.
What is the fee structure?
Most answering services either charge per minute or per call. It's important to find out which fee structure an answering service uses before making a final decision. Per-call plans can appear attractive, but make sure you understand their definition of 'a call'. Some providers put time limits on their call definition, or consider each text, e-mail or fax they send to you a call as well. So what you assume to be one call could actually count as 3 or 4 calls based on their parameters. Most of the time, per-minute plans are easier to budget for and can help save you money. However, only you know what fee structure is best for you. An experienced telephone answering service will go over all of this with you and explain how their fee structure works.
What is included in the pricing plan?
Inexpensive plans aren't necessarily a good thing because they may not include all of the features that you need or want. Some answering services include holidays, basic reporting, and after hours calls while others will charge for those services. Always find out what is included in the pricing plan, what costs extra, and how much those extra services will cost. Getting this information ahead of time will help you avoid any surprise fees in the future.
Quality and experience
After you've narrowed down your list of potential answering service providers, reach out to the companies and ask for testimonials, the number of years they've been in business, awards and recognition, and references specific to your industry. There are many different questions that you could ask an answering service when you're trying to make your final decision, but these questions will likely be the most beneficial. A majority of your questions should revolve around your specific business needs and how each provider can help solve those needs. This will help you to get a better feel of which answering service company is the best fit for your business.
Searching for an answering service can be a stressful task, but it doesn't have to be. Regardless of whether you're searching for a telephone answering service for the first time or you're looking to switch providers, the points above will help you make a more informed decision for your company.
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