By: Jennifer M. Cronkhite on November 30th, 2020
Answering Service Call Patching and Transferring
Customer Service | How Answering Services Work | Virtual Receptionists 101
Patching is essentially call center lingo for transferring a caller to your team. Patching is frequently used by switchboard operators, virtual receptionist and after-hours emergency dispatchers. In the telephone answering service industry, there are two common ways callers can be patched including, warm and cold.
Cold patching or a blind transfer is when an agent doesn’t check before connecting the caller. In this instance, the caller is connected to your line without being introduced. The caller could simply go into your normal voicemail or be greeted by you when you answer.
During the on-boarding process, ask your team if they prefer warm or cold patching.
What else is possible with patching?
If you’re having callers cold patched to your team’s personal cell phones, ask them to record a professional voicemail greeting.
What are patch minutes?
If patching is transferring, what are patch minutes? Patch minutes are based on the time a caller stays connected to you while using the answering service’s line. Just like an old-school phone fee. Patch minutes are billed in one-minute increments and begin once the agent disconnects. Patch minutes continue until you and the caller disconnects.
How are patch minutes billed?
You may be wondering, why this matters. The answer is of course, money. Up until an agent disconnects from the line their work is being billed as work time, which is what your monthly package includes. Once the agent disconnects and you are speaking with a caller, you’re being billed for “patch time”.
- Low per minute rate - patched calls are billed at a separate, low rate, typically $0.12 per minute or less.
- Charged as minutes in your plan - patched calls are charged at the same rate as your operator minutes.
- Included in your plan - some companies include the patch time in the monthly plan. Yet, the per minute cost of your work time minutes are 2x or 3x what a typical answering service charges. So, there is truly no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to patch time.
If you’ve ever gotten a phone message and grumbled, “I am usually up until 10 pm. If the Answering Service would have just called my cell phone, I could have taken that call it's only 8:30 pm.” Patching maybe right for you.
Why are patch minutes billed?
Feature Photo Credit: Sherri Noel, rebeccamaedesigns.com