The people who answer your phone become the face and voice of your company. How you deal with incoming calls is incredibly important to your bottom line. People in the United States prefer to interact with companies over the phone. If they have a problem or a question, at least 79% will pick up the phone and call a business. At least two-thirds of all United States customers say they would pay more for something if that meant they would get better customer service. When pressed, they are found to be willing to spend up to 13% more. When people reach a voicemail, at least 80% of all callers just hang up. Given these facts, it is not surprising that many companies hire companies to provide them with a live answering service.
Tips for Picking a Live Answering Service:
- Decide what kind of service you need. If you are a retail establishment, you might only need your phones to be answered during business hours. If you operate a medical or legal office, you might need a live answering service when your staff is at lunch or you might need an after hour answering service or 24 hour live answering service. Really think about what the best arrangement would be for your business and your customers, clients or patients.
- What kinds of features can they offer. Does the service offer anything other than answering the phone and transferring calls? Can they set appointments, answer general questions or perform other tasks? There are many companies out there that offer telephone answering services. What you need will determine who you go with. There are so many out there that you should be able to find one.
- Get personal recommendations. The chances are that you know other business owners who have similar needs to yours. Ask them what they do and if they have any recommendations. It is just your best starting point. Nothing beats a personal recommendation. Next, look at Yelp and on Facebook. Ask companies about other past and present customers. Do they have testimonials on their web site? Check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Try out the company. Talk to the people at the company. When you call them, how do they seem? Can you envision them interacting with your clients? If you do not like the phone manner of the people at the live answering service, go with your gut and hire someone else. This should be a big red flag that this company is not for you.
- Ask about how their staff are trained and make sure they understand any privacy rules. If you have a medical office, failure to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (commonly called HIPAA) will not only make you look bad and upset your patients but it can cost you a lot of money in fines. A live answering service that cannot follow HIPAA rules should not be the one for you.
- Ask about fees, rates and cancellation costs. Most companies have pretty straightforward rates and a transparent system. If you are unsure of anything, ask. Make sure you understand the costs involved with changing your plan, canceling your contract and what they charge for weekend and holidays. Companies are notorious for highlighting cheap rates and then tacking on fees and other charges that drive their costs way up.
- Look outside your region. Your live answering service does not have to be near you. If you cannot find a company that offers the services you need for a cost that you can afford in your region or city, the good news is that you can look all over the country or planet to get the serviced you want at a price you can live with. Look around online and you should find someone you like.
Most companies and businesses understand how important it is to put the best foot forward when dealing with clients and customers. Finding the right company to answer your phones should not be a terrible experience but does take some time and energy, Any work and effort you put into finding the best company will pay off in the long run and for your bottom line.