TMCnet Feature
May 23, 2019

AnswerFirst's Guide to Choosing an Answering Service for your Business

Businesses in nearly every industry can benefit from the services provided by call centers. Using an answering service can lead to fewer distractions, more sales, and extra time to deal with the most important aspects of running a business. Sometimes, business owners are wary of using these services. This is particularly true if they have had problems when using a call center in the past.

It isn't always easy to find a good answering service, Matt Herron - CEO of AnswerFirst tells us. He advises that the company that you choose not only needs to be able to handle your current call load but they also need to be capable of meeting the needs of your business in the future as your company grows.

Meeting these requirements is something that has meant AnswerFirst (News - Alert) has grown substantially and is highly rated as having the best service professionals in the industry.  In short, Matt and AnswerFirst know a thing or two about inbound contact centers and they’ve provided us with some great tips on choosing an answering service for your business.

The tips below will help you choose the right call center for your business.

1. Make Sure They Provide Around-The-Clock Service

Ideally, the answering service that you choose should be available at any time of the day or night. You never know when you may be called away. If you have to leave the office unexpectedly, it is important to know that your answering service has your back. Ideally, the company should charge a standard rate, regardless of whether the calls come in during traditional business hours, after hours, on weekends, or on holidays.

For example, AnswerFirst is a 24/7 Inbound Contact Center & Customer Service Solutions Provider. This is hugely beneficial for businesses that require people there to provide customers with answers all day, every day.

2. Choose A Provider With Previous Experience Working With Companies In Your Field

Going with a call center that has worked with companies in your industry in the past is usually a good option. That way, they will already be familiar with the needs of your business. The company should be happy to provide you with a list of references. Ideally, that list should include companies in the same field as your own. Though they work in all industries, AnswerFirst specialises in IT Help Desk & Technical Support services and as such is perfect for businesses in these fields.

3. Give The Answering Service Time To Learn About Your Business

If you hired a full-time receptionist, you wouldn't expect them to know everything about your business right out of the gate. Instead, you would naturally assume that you had to train them. This same concept applies when using an answering service. Even though the service has the technical skills to answer your calls, you still need to help them understand your business so that they can provide the best possible experience for your customers. They should be willing to train their operators to provide the specific help that people calling your company need.

4. Choose A Company That Provides Detailed Call Documentation

The call center that you choose should document every call that comes in. In most cases, recording the calls is the best option. Remember – the operators are speaking directly to your customers and business associates. It is important to know exactly what was said during those calls.

If the calls are recorded, you can go back and listen to them at your convenience. That way, you don't have to take the word of the answering service or the caller regarding what was said – you can hear the call for yourself.

5. Interact With The Operators

The operators who work for the company are on the frontlines when it comes to dealing with your customers or clients. Spend some time interacting with them to make sure that they are professional and that their demeanor reflects well on your company. When people call in, they should be greeted by an operator who is not only professional but also friendly.

6. Choose A Service That Puts Confidentiality First

When customers or business clients call in, they expect that their information will be kept private. This is particularly true when discussing sensitive or confidential information. When you hire an answering service, you need to make sure that they have well-defined nondisclosure rules in place for their operators. This is essential for protecting the privacy of your callers and your business.

7. Look For A Company With A Backup Plan

What happens if the power goes out or if the local utilities are disrupted? Can the call center continue receiving calls on your behalf? The best answering services have backup plans in place that are designed to keep them up and running even during times when the utility services are sporadic or unavailable.

8. Discuss How The Staff Is Trained

The operators who are in charge of answering calls for your business should be extremely well-trained. Discuss how the company trains its staff. The operators should be familiar with the most important aspects of your business before they begin answering calls on your behalf. They should also be familiar with your industry and should understand enough relevant lingo that they can talk to people about your business in a way that makes sense. Every operator should be trained on how to handle challenging callers and on how to deal with common problems. Ultimately, they should provide top-quality service to your customers from the moment that they call until the time that they hang up.

9. Talk Directly To The Manager In Charge Of Your Account

The best answering services allow you to discuss your account directly with the manager who is in charge of it. If an answering service is unwilling to put you in contact with the manager, choose a different service instead.

The reason why it is essential to discuss your account with the call manager is because they are in charge of putting together the scripts for the calls. They also manage your messages and keep track of the logs of your calls. Discussing issues like these with a regular representative usually isn't productive. It is best to go straight to the manager.

10. Make Sure The Service Has The Features You Need

When you work with a high-quality answering service, you can trust that all of your customers will receive excellent service every time they call. Carefully explore the features provided by each call center. Some common services that are available include screening calls, recording voicemail messages, allowing you to access messages or calls through the Internet, and scheduling appointments. Some such as AnswerFirst go further as they offer different ticketing softwares via API integrations so that their operators can actually create and work with tickets in an IT business' existing software. They are experienced with offering Tier 1 Help Desk, trouble ticket logging. This flexibility can be remarkably helpful in such scenarios.

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