Choosing the right phone answering service to take your customer calls and/or take calls from clients and associates when you’re not available is critical to growing a business successfully.
It is very easy to get into bed with a company who isn’t best suited to service both yours and your caller’s needs. This is why it’s so important to come up with a plan of attack that will help you match your unique needs with the abilities of the call center or private answering service you end up choosing.
Here are 5 tips to help you choose the right phone answering service for your company:
1. Look for a phone answering service that ticks all the boxes you and your customers will require
Customer service is number 1 for any product or service business. One bad experience is all it will take to send most customers packing. While the provider you choose will be carrying a lot of the heavier weight in this regard, it’s up to you to make the right choice for both yours and your customer’s well being.
Look for the following, as it relates to the service you want your customers and others calling your business to receive:
- Expected (or better “guaranteed”) hold/wait times on call – the lower the metrics, the better.
- How many calls can they realistically answer if the queue get busy?
- Do they offer automated phone services for customers who prefer not to talk to an agent?
- Are the calls recorded for later review by you and other performance auditors you plan to have in place?
- Will the service develop and execute a formal training plan for employees taking your calls? (eg., how to take orders, schedule appointments, process returns, up-selling/cross-selling, etc.)
- Can they answer the calls when you need them to? (eg., 24/7 and special holidays including those in the area you service, and those that take place where the call center is located too.)
Keep in mind that all the above may not apply to your specific needs. However, you must know what you need, and how to find it before settling on one provider over another.
2. Make sure their reputation in your industry is solid
Whether you’re a retailer, plumber, architect, hair stylist, IT worker – or even a professional hitman – the call center or small service you choose needs to talk the language of the customers, vendors, and other associates who’ll be calling your business.
Make sure to get in to visit their facility and vet their staff’s industry knowledge thoroughly.
3. Verify the service’s language skills (thoroughly!)
Obviously, it’s important that the phone answering service’s agents speak the language of the people that will be calling to talk to you, or to receive customer service assistance for your product. There are varying degrees of “language” to consider here:
- Actual spoken language (eg., English, French, Spanish, etc.) – if you offer multi-lingual service
- Industry language (eg., automotive, music, animals, etc.)
- Local language (eg., when servicing a local area, it helps when the agents can understand your customer’s unique dialect, slang, and frame of mind).
4. Ensure their compliancy with industry and governmental regulations
Ensure, if needed, that the phone answering service you choose complies with all government regulations as they apply to your industry and customers. This won’t be necessary in all cases. However, specialized industries like the medical field in the United States, for instance, require all staff and customer handling procedures to be HIPAA compliant.
Make sure you research everything, potentially hiring an experienced consultant, to ensure your provider is 100% compliant in all areas they need to be.
5. Choosing providers with a crystal clear pricing model
The pricing offered to you should be clear and contractually guaranteed for a set period after you sign it. To compare, our terms for this purpose is 30 days. Not only that, but the company’s pricing model should also offer built-in flexibility that offers you savings when call volumes are low, and which doesn’t severely gouge your pocketbook every time unexpectedly large call volumes come up.
In general, larger phone service providers with an established reputation should be able to offer clear and stable pricing terms, regardless of your specific and potentially unique needs.
Choosing the right phone answering service isn’t easy – nor should it be. How customers, clients, and associates are dealt with when they call your business is a direct reflection of your brand.
If one of your major goals is to make sure everyone that calls gets their issue or request dealt with as efficiently and professionally as possible, choosing a provider who can service all their needs with a big proverbial smile is essential to the growth and well-being of your company.