Answering Services – Not All Are Created Equal
It’s a life lesson we’ve all experienced at some time or another: you get what you pay for. The least expensive product isn’t always the best one to get, and that applies to services for your business, too.
When it comes to anything that affects how people perceive your company, quality trumps discounts every time. Hiring the lowest cost answering service might make your accountant happy in the short term, but the long-term damage your company could receive from bad customer service and poor image just isn’t worth it. Eventually, that “bargain” answering service could cost you a fortune in lost business.
So how do you choose the answering service that is right for your business? Here is our recommended checklist – If the provider meets all of these, than you are on the right path:
- Industry certifications: Do they participate in the ATSI Site Certification program? This process requires meeting 60 critical points demonstrating a high level of proficiency in recovery techniques, good business practices, documentation of procedures, and levels of redundancy necessary for 24/7 preparedness.
- Proper staff development: Look for a standardized employee training program – it’s a good sign that your callers will receive consistent service. The best answering services also send their employees to educational and technical programs to help further their skills.
- Awards: Does the company participate in outside assessment programs such as ATSI’s Award of Excellence (AOE). The AOE recognizes excellence by evaluating test calls, measuring how agents handle calls from beginning to end. The goal is for each caller to believe they are the most important person to the agent.
- Availability: Can your callers talk to a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…even on holidays? Non-stop availability is one of the main advantages of an answering service. Find one that will provide it.
- Message delivery options: A good answering service will relay your messages to you any way you like – for example, in an email, a ring-through to your cell phone, or a text message to your pager or cell phone. They should also have technology that supports confirming pages via reply text. Make sure you have these options available, so there’s no chance of missing a time-sensitive message.
- Staffing that meets your needs: What happens if you have a special promotion, or if it’s a busy time of year? Your answering service needs to be prepared to handle the higher call volume.
Partnering with an answering service may be one of the best business decisions you can make. Use these tips to make sure you choose the right one.
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