The Top 5 Things We Should Expect from Our Call Answering Service
When we hire a call answering service, we have a set of predefined expectations that we want our answering service to provide. However, we often assume these critical items exist—or they may even be subconscious—so we forget to include them in our selection criteria. Then, we’re shocked if our call answering service misses one of these key areas.
As we evaluate the pros and cons for our call answering service selection process, we’ll do well to include these areas that too many people overlook. While each person’s list of essentials may differ, here are five common things most everyone expects from a call answering service.
Learn how to select the right answering service for your business with our insider tips.
1. Polite, Friendly, and Engaging Staff
When we meet someone, who do we like more, someone who is distant, cold, and impersonal or someone who is polite, friendly, and engaging? Of course we want to talk with people who are polite, friendly, and engaging. The same applies when we call a business and reach their call answering service.
Even if the person on the phone correctly handles our call, if they’re surly and snide, they leave us with a bad impression of the call, the company, and the brand. However, if we can hear the person smile through the telephone, that makes a huge difference.
For example, basic courtesy and good manners, such as saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way to setting a proper tone for a phone call. Other golden phrases are “you’re welcome” and “will you please….”
Most of our communication is nonverbal. We lose nonverbal cues when we talk on the telephone. That makes the words we say all that much more important. When we say them with a smile, we invite the caller into a conversation.
This is key to effective communication. And this is why we want people at our call answering service who are polite, friendly, and engaging.
2. Specific Knowledge About Our Industry
Some call answering services try to be all things to all people. However, a generalist specializes in nothing. And we don’t want someone who lacks a basic understanding of our industry handling our calls. That’s why the best answering services specialize in certain industries such as healthcare, professional services, and the service sector. Examples of specific niches include property management and manufacturing.
By focusing on strategic industries and market niches, call answering services can specialize in select areas and excel at handling calls for their clients in these specific fields. Just as we would mistrust a carpenter who also practiced law and provided lawn services, we don’t want a call answering service that tries to do a little bit of everything. As the saying goes, a jack of all trades is the master of none. When it comes to our call answering service, we want to hire a master, not buy a jack.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the staff at our call answering service will become subject matter experts on our industry. That’s not a realistic expectation. To achieve that would require a lawyer to answer calls for other attorneys, an insurance agent to answer calls for insurance companies, or a real estate agent to answer real estate calls.
That means a reasonable goal is for the call answering service we hire to possess a working knowledge of our industry.
3. Ability to Follow Industry Regulations
Most industries have specific regulations that companies must be aware of and follow. We want our answering service to likewise know and adhere to these specific requirements. That way, they can handle our callers appropriately and keep us away from legal problems.
The financial services industry is one such area with a plethora of regulations to follow. So too is the healthcare industry. As such, medical answering services must be aware of and follow HIPAA regulations. As it relates to call answering services, HIPAA mostly covers how they transmit and store patient information, but it also places wise restrictions on what our call answering service can say and who they can say it to about a patient’s personal health information.
We want an answering service that understands and follows this. That’s because if they mess up, it’s not just on them. We’re liable too, both financially and legally, as well as for the public relations nightmare that could occur over what may seem a small or even innocent error.
4. Flexible Availability and Support
Too many call answering services have limits on when they’ll answer calls. What happens if we need them to answer an extra hour one evening? Some call answering services will refuse to do so—or gouge us for the trouble. Or they may charge extra for specific days or times, such as on holidays, weekends, or even third shift. That’s both inconvenient and restrictive.
We don’t want a call answering service that limits when they’ll answer our calls. Instead, we want an answering service that’s available for us whenever we need them, 24/7. That includes holidays, too.
And in addition, we want an online web portal we can access whenever we want. This portal will let us manage our messages, adjust our on-call schedule, and update our contact information. We don’t want to wait for when our call answering service happens to have someone available to handle our specific request. We want to be able to do it when we want, regardless if it’s at 3 a.m., during their busy time, or even in the middle of a holiday weekend. A web portal gives us 24/7 access whenever we want it. Therefore, we need a call answering service that offers this important feature.
5. Growth Potential
When we use a call answering service in the right way and for the right reasons, we’ll realize many benefits. One key benefit of using a call answering service is an increased ability to grow our business, such as through increased sales. This growth potential applies to an array of businesses, including a diverse group such as property management, law firms, and HVAC contractors.
One common key area that allows for growth potential is 24/7 availability. This includes after-hours coverage, overflow coverage when our office staff is busy, and daytime coverage for lunches, breaks, and staff meetings.
Providing a professional image to our callers is another huge growth benefit of using a professional call answering service. For many people, a phone call is their first interaction with our company. That’s why we want a professional call answering service to make that first impression be a great one.
Though perspectives may vary, common expectations for our call answering service include:
- Polite, friendly, and engaging staff
- Specific knowledge about our industry
- Ability to follow industry regulations
- Flexible availability and support
- Growth potential
These key items provide us with a great starting point. Now we’re informed and ready to move forward in the selection of a call answering service.
For more information, check out this free, no-obligation resource, “How to Select an Answering Service.”
About Peter DeHaan
Peter DeHaan, is CEO of Peter DeHaan publishing which produces print media periodicals and Internet-based publications, as well as media and informational websites. In addition, and TAS Trader. Notable websites and publications include: TAS Trader, which focuses exclusively on the needs, concerns, and opportunities of the Telephone Answering Service (TAS) Industry. It is written by the TAS Industry and is for the TAS Industry. Connections Magazine, which is the premier magazine for the Teleservices Call Center Industry and is distributed to qualified readers at call centers, contact centers, teleservice agencies, telephone answering services, and telemessaging companies.