Research has found you only have 27 seconds to make a winning first impression the moment you pick up the phone.
Outsourcing your answering services is a great way to look professional and accommodate your customers’ needs. Perhaps you’ve got a list of candidates, but you’re unsure about how to pick the right fit for your business.
Sounds familiar? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are seven things to consider when selecting answering services.
1. Your Budget
Before you browse options for answering services, consider your budget and the size of your company. As a general rule, the more traffic your business has, then the more expensive the package, so take time to crunch the numbers.
You should eventually narrow down your options while comparing answer service costs. For instance, many companies offer a per-call billing structure where you pay for each call coming in.
You could also try the per-minute billing option. Like a cell phone plan, you’re given a certain amount of minutes to use each month before paying for overages. Most reputable companies offer a range of plans to figure out which works best for your business.
2. The Company’s Experience in Your Industry
Find an answering service company that has extensive experience in your industry. You want a capable team and understands your customers, so you needn’t babysit them in the beginning.
Also, remember that the answering service is a prospect’s first interaction with your business. Decide whether they align with your values and marketing, so you find the best fit. For instance, if you run a luxury business, you want an operator with a professional tone rather than a casual one.
3. Which Features Are Available
Another crucial element is answering service features.
But before you invest, ask whether you can have a free trial period to familiarize yourself with the system and see if it can support your business. Or, at the very least, ask whether you can place a test call to see what customers experience.
Consider the sound quality and make sure the provider is using a robust noise cancellation system so you can hear the operator well. Many businesses also benefit from accessing a web portal so you can check messages and call logs in real-time.
One of the most overlooked features is call recording. You want to work with a provider that documents calls because you never know how much you’ll need them. And make sure you can easily access these recordings whenever you need them.
It’s also crucial that the answering services integrate with your current CRM and billing system to streamline the process. And as you shortlist your options, read every review, so you get an insight into how the company functions.
4. How Professional the Operators Are
Aside from the features, the operators must be professional.
Remember, they represent your business, so make sure they take care of your customers and work well with your in-house team.
The company’s operators should also have an excellent response rate. This means promptly answering the phones or returning a call as quickly as possible. Also, ask how they handle a huge influx of calls so you’re assured they can offer the best customer service.
Further, consider the operating hours. Does the company offer round-the-clock support? 24/7 service is useful if you work with customers in different time zones, and even if they’re local; this shows clients that you are available to them whenever.
5. Whether Maintenance Is Included
Businesses must ask whether answering service maintenance is included. Many providers require regular software updates, so the system runs smoothly.
So ask whether it will automatically update every month or whether it requires professional help. Also, ask how the answering services company will set up the equipment.
In some cases, companies take weeks to set everything up, so plan in advance or choose someone who offers a swift installation process. Saying that, avoid companies who offer same-day activation as the operating team must understand your brand. Take several days to train employees about your business before going live.
6. Their Emergency Back-Up Plan
Reliable answering service companies offer clients an emergency backup plan. This means that if there’s a natural disaster or a server issue, it won’t affect your business.
Because of this, the company should have a backup power solution in another location where they can re-route calls to. It’s also a good idea to visit the provider’s main location. A face-to-face meeting will tell you whether this company is a good fit, especially as they are the voice of your business.
7. Ask About Security Measures
A major deal-breaker is if the answering service company doesn’t have good security. Know that the operators will handle your clients’ sensitive data, so make sure that they are PCI Compliant.
This means the company is inspected yearly to protect customer’s information like their credit card details. Don’t be afraid to ask how they handle data. Reputable companies prioritize security and follow protocol, so they’re not breaching anyone’s data.
Our Selecting Answering Services Tips
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’re confident with selecting answering services.
Find providers that align with your budget, ask whether they have experience in your industry, and ask for a free trial period. You should also consider the features and how well they prioritize security before sealing the deal. Good luck!
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