If you’re thinking about hiring an answering service to answer customer calls for your company, you probably have questions. Rightfully so. Making a transition from a receptionist to a professional answering service is a big decision and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. To make things a bit easier, we have put together a list of questions that we often see in our industry. We hope that this answering service FAQ will be helpful.
10 Frequently Asked Questions about Answering Services
- What’s the difference between a call center and an answering service? This is a great question and one that we hear all the time. We’ll start by defining what a call center is. Call centers are designed to answer a high volume of customers from a large population of customers. Though call centers can handle inbound calls and make outbound calls, most people think of an inbound call center. Think of your cell phone. If you have a problem with your cell phone or mobile service, you place a call to your carrier to have your question or issue resolved. The person that answers that call most likely works in a call center. An answering service is a bit different. Answering services are not set up to handle the same type of call volume that a call center can. Answering services support a narrower scope of services. Trained answering service professionals handle inbound calls from your customers, answer basic questions, take messages, and occasionally, schedule appointments.
- Are your employees based in the United States or overseas? Though many call centers are located across the globe, our answering service professionals here at Hartley and Associates are all based here in the United States. We will never send your customers to an offshore representative.
- How will your employees answer our calls? We will train our representatives to answer your calls in a way that works for your business. Whether it be a “Hello and how may I help you,” to a more personalized answer that reflects the name of your business and more,” we’ll work with you to ensure your customers are greeted the way you desire. In fact, we may suggest a more personalized greeting instead of a generic one. Customers will appreciate this special touch.
- What are the benefits of an answering service? We’re so glad you asked! Answering services are designed to answer your customer calls quickly and courteously, accurately document and deliver your messages, and maintain high ethical standards. Our technology makes it easy for your customers to hear us. Calls won’t be saddled with echoes, delays, or jitters. Further, trained answering service professionals know how to demonstrate experience, professionalism, and courtesy with every customer interaction.
- How do I know if I need an answering service for my company? You may think that your answering machine and receptionist or office manager combination is taking care of your customers satisfactorily. However, if you are experiencing any of these five signs, the chances are that your company could benefit from an answering service.
- Your incoming call volumes are increasing
- You do not have a full-time receptionist
- You need a solution to maintain business continuity in the event of a natural disaster or another unforeseeable event
- You receive a lot of questions that could be easily answered
- Your calls are not being effectively routed with the solution that you currently have in place
- Is your equipment HIPAA and HITECH compliant? This is a fundamental question for businesses in the medical industry. At Hartley and Associates, our office, equipment, and trained staff are trained per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) compliant, meeting all privacy rules and regulations.
- Will my customers ever be placed on hold? Though most answering services strive to answer customer calls as soon as they come in, there are circumstances where higher than average call volumes could lead to a holding time. Thus, if more calls are coming in, than there are agents available to answer those calls, customers will be placed in a holding pattern in the order that their call comes in. As soon as the next agent becomes available, your customer’s call will be answered.
- Will I save money if I hire an answering service? The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you are looking to replace a full-time receptionist or a pool of receptionists, then the chances are that you will save quite a bit when investing in an answering service. However, when looking at the potential return on investment (ROI) for an answering service, you must look at the efficiency you will gain by ensuring more calls are answered promptly. Your employees can be redirected to focus on more pressing items at your place of business. You can receive professional answering services for as low as $65 per month. Further, our professionals will serve as an extension of your staff at a fraction of the cost. And you will not experience any downtime from illness, attrition, or vacation time.
- Can you answer customer calls 24 hours a day, seven days per week? Our answering services are designed based on your organization’s needs. Companies in the IT support, property management, private security, vending machine, HVAC, plumbing, and medical industry receive calls at all hours of the day and on any day of the week. If your company requires 24/7 answering services, then that is what we will provide.
- Are there back-up systems in place to protect our customer information? Our equipment leverages the latest in state-of-the-art technology. Further, we invest in robust and redundant back-up systems that deliver near 100% uptime.