Whether you are a business owner blessed with too many phone calls, or an entrepreneur looking to convert callers to clients with greater consistency, a telephone answering service can often be a valuable partner in maximizing your business. However, too many businesses do not get the results they are looking for upon choosing a telephone service provider. Here are the Top 5 Mistakes they typically make:
1.Assuming all telephone answering services are the same.
Enter telephone answering service as a search in Google and you’ll return more than 1,000,000 results. The most common mistake is to assume all these companies provide the same type of service, equal quality of service or even serve your type of business at all. The telephone answering industry has evolved quite a bit in the last decade and has become increasingly specialized.
2.Not knowing what you want from an answering service.
The best way to identify what type of telephone answering service you require is to first understand what you are trying to accomplish. Are you simply looking for a live person to answer a call and take messages? Would you prefer someone who can function as your receptionist to screen, announce and connect the calls you want in real-time? Maybe you need someone to handle a call from start to finish by scheduling your appointments, placing orders or more. Do you want your callers to feel as though they have reached a service, or that they have reached your office and are speaking with your receptionist?
3.Not asking the right questions of the answering service.
Depending on your answers to the above, there is certain fundamental information you should gather from a prospective telephone answering partner such as: How many different people will be answering my calls? What are your live answer hours? Will there be additional usage charges for having calls connected back to me in real-time? Where are your agents located? What systems do you have in place to guide agents in handling my calls? Will I have the opportunity to meet or speak directly with those handling my calls?
4.Choosing the low cost provider.
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for with telephone answering services. Too many business owners compare solely on price only to discover their calls are not handled to their specifications. There is an incredibly wide range of telephone answering services available. From calls answered 24×7 in distant, off-shore call centers by agents paid a few dollars a day to highly trained and well educated receptionists working business hours in your local community. A part-time shift worker at a large call center will never become as familiar with your business as a full-time receptionist in a smaller local office. Don’t underestimate the value of having your bread and butter business phone calls handled professionally and to your specifications.
5.Not communicating your needs clearly and consistently.
Whether you are delegating work to an on-site employee or an off-site receptionist, it is critical to clearly convey your desires to the people doing your work. Not only is it necessary to setup clear procedures initially, but it is essential to keep your partner informed as your business changes and your needs vary accordingly. Keep in mind that nobody will know your business as well as you (employee or virtual assistant), so be sure to make your instructions clear, concise and consistent.
So, before choosing that answering service, call center, virtual remote receptionist or other off-site partner, spend a little extra time to thoroughly research your decision using these guidelines. This will greatly enhance your chances of forging a successful, long-term partnership with your telephone service provider.