For many businesses the success of their operations starts from the moment that the phone rings. Having a professional, courteous, and effective phone answering solution is paramount to ensuring that customers can have their request fielded, documented, and processed.
For a small business, the continuity of providing this service on a daily basis can be challenging, particularly where one or more frontline staff take unplanned leave, maternity leave, or extended periods of planned leave over holiday periods. But there is a solution to this problem at hand.
Recognising the need that exists to support business owners in meeting incoming customer calls, there are Telephone Answering Providers that can provide temporary phone answering solutions. But how do you know what to look for in such a service? What questions should you ask?
Choosing a Telephone Answering Provider
As a business with a reputation to uphold, it is important that you seek the right telephone answering provider. You should seriously consider the following advice in order to make the correct decision:
- Where is the Telephone Answering Provider located? Clearly, you’ll need a local or national service unless an international provider has offices or service numbers in your country. Your customers need to be able to call a number that is familiar to them.
- What are their rates and do they offer reasonably priced packages?
- When they answer your customers, do they SMS or email you a copy of the message so you are abreast of what is happening?
- Is the service easily contactable if you have questions? If they are unable to easily communicate with you, perhaps they are not the right provider for your business.
- Do they list some of their biggest clients on their website? This could well provide an indication of their reliability.
- How long has the company been established? Do they have a long history of service provision or are they a new company looking to break into the market?
A reliable Telephone Answering Provider should be able to service the needs of your customers seamlessly so that your customers are unaware of any change in your level of service. After all, they will be the face of your business whilst your regular employees are on leave, so it is vital that they convey a sense of trust, reliability, and friendliness to your customers and clients. A good provider will treat your customers like their own.
It is also important that you evaluate exactly what services the Telephone Answering Provider offers. If you are a 24/7 or after-hours business, for example, you will need to use a provider that offers the same level of service.
Some Telephone Answering Providers also offer a Live Phone Answering Service. In this case, they will act as an extension of your company and will arrange and organise appointments for customers (if you run an appointment-based business), or even provide information to customer queries if you have organised this prior.
In all cases, the Telephone Answering Provider is part of the face of your business. Make sure that they are professional, reliable, and offer you the right services for your type of business and your customers.
Assessing Your Need to Use a Telephone Answering Provider
Companies might think that their business is too small, or that their requirement is not significant enough to warrant the engagement of a Telephone Answering Provider. But in fact, temporary phone answering providers can deliver a solution according to your needs by taking into account:
- Your call demand,
- The period of time for which you require coverage,
- The number of staff and phone numbers / lines that require servicing, and
- Your budget.
Consider these examples:
Temporary telephone cover is perfect for the Christmas period. If your frontline staff have requested annual leave over the festive season, rather than denying their leave applications, or approving their leave and then trying to manage the phones yourself, you could acquire the services of a temporary phone answering service. You do not want to miss important calls because your capacity is overstretched.
Temporary telephone cover is also suitable for meeting additional demand. If you are planning a marketing campaign and expect a short term increase in demand, acquiring the services of a telephone answering provider can help to alleviate surges and spikes in customer calls.
Many businesses also use telephone answering providers on a daily basis in order to extend their capacity to take orders and provide useful information via a Live Answering Service arrangement. For example, some small businesses retain the services of what is often termed a Virtual Receptionist. In this case, the Virtual Receptionist will provide live information to clients and customers and act as a seamless part of your business. You will not miss a call and your customers will receive a high level of professional service. This can provide you with an edge in the marketplace as you seek to differentiate your business from your competitors’.
If you run a business, your level of customer service is important. Whatever the size of your business, there will be times when you need the services of a Telephone Answering Provider. But you need to make sure you choose the type of service that is right for your business.
Carefully evaluate what they can offer you and ask plenty of questions to determine both their professionalism and their capacity to meet your own needs. If you decide to acquire their services, they will become the face of your business, so it is important that they do this in a professional and seamless manner.
Hiring the services of a Telephone Answering Provider can cover periods where your staff or colleagues have planned or unplanned leave, but it can also add a professional edge to your growing business. In this age of fast-paced communication where customer expectations are that businesses will be available to them around the clock, a reliable Telephone Answering Provider will make sure that you never miss a call or an opportunity to service your customers in the way that they expect.