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How to Shop for an Answering Service
Peter DeHaan

By: Peter DeHaan on January 23rd, 2016

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How to Shop for an Answering Service

How Answering Services Work

Most people who know they need a telephone answering service don’t know how to pick one. They realize the value of a live person answering their calls but they don’t know what to do next.

Here are some quick tips on how to shop for an answering service.

Finding the  Cheapest Answering Service

So the first thing they ask is “What are your rates?”

If your goal is to find the cheapest answering service, then this is a great question to ask. Start by finding out what they charge. You’ll quickly eliminate the premier providers because their rates are higher. In no time you’ll zero in on the low-cost provider.

Just remember, there's a reason why they charge less

  • They cut corners-they have to if they want to stay in business
  • They may be understaffed
  • They may have high turnover
  • They may have underpaid, disgruntled employees
  • They may not even try to answer your calls – after all, it costs them money each time they answer a call for you

Imagine everything you can about how bad an answering service could be, and you’ve just given yourself a glimpse at how the cheapest answering service may handle your calls. Shopping on price doesn’t get you much, and it suggests you don’t value your customers.

Finding a Quality Answering Service

However, if you care about your customers then asking answering services about their rates is the wrong question to start with; save that one for later. If serving your clients in a professional manner is important to you, then you need to find an answering service that shares your perspective. And they are going to charge more because it costs more to provide quality.

So instead of leading with the question about rates, ask “What steps do you take to provide quality service?” Then sit back and listen. The person you’re talking to seldom hears this question, so they are sure to stumble at first. But once they get over the shock that you’re not asking about prices they should be able to put together an impressive list.

What you should expect to hear about quality

  • The amount of time spent on new employee education and ongoing training
  • Their quality assurance and agent evaluation programs
  • Supervisor to agent ratios
  • Average length of employment for their staff
  • Awards won or recognitions received
  • Agent monitoring and call recording technology
  • Statistics about their average performance

If you like what you hear then you can ask about rates, but don’t move that answer to the top of your list. It’s a secondary consideration. If it’s important to provide your customers with a quality experience, then a few extra pennies per call shouldn’t matter.

You can find quality answering services, and you can find cheap answering services, but you can’t find ones that are both good and cheap. Which is more important? You decide.

How to select an Answering Service

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About Peter DeHaan