One of the benefits of using answering services is that you can ensure that your calls are handled as they come in. Many people will hang up if they reach a voicemail, which means that your company misses out on a potential sale or opportunity to properly attend to a customer's needs. But if you have a reliable, courteous operator to handle your inbound calls, then you can be sure that all of your calls are attended to, which is vital to your business success.
Answering services are one form of virtual offices. Other functions include call center functions, mail services like mail forwarding, order processing, account maintenance and more. Outsourcing these tasks can be ideal for small businesses that want to grow but perhaps can't afford office space or additional staff. Some service providers will use advanced web-enabled operating systems to execute 24-7 service.
Many customers don't like the automated responses generated at the beginning of calls and prefer to speak to a live person right away. You will need to decide for yourself which technique will have the biggest impact on your business results. When entering into a partnership with any answering services provider, begin by clearly defining your needs and expectations. You should agree upon the hours of service, approximate number of calls to be answered either weekly or monthly, scripts and procedures for each call and post-call actions. Messages can be delivered to you via email, cell phone, pager, desktop, pda or fax. Whether these messages are sent to you either immediately or at scheduled times is entirely up to you.
Inbound answering services could include any of the following: order taking, dealer location service, reservation service, customer service assistance and direct response (from an advertisement). Some inbound centers will also offer outbound call center services such as event registration, lead generation, surveys, etc.
Many different businesses use answering services to offer their customers continuous support. For instance, utility companies, information technology help desks and mail order catalogue retailers frequently rely on virtual receptionists. No matter who you hire, it's critical that whoever represents your company is efficient, flexible and professional, leaving the right impression after each and every call.
Make sure the company you select is affordable and does not charge any hidden fees. Don't forget to ask about set up fees, training fees and hold-time charges. In addition, some service providers offer separate fees for a live web chat function, whereas others include it in the final price. You might even be offered a free trial so that you can experience their answering services first-hand before committing.