Are you thinking of engaging an answering service, how can you choose one that fits for your business?

Are you thinking of engaging an answering service, how can you choose one that fits for your business?

Apr 04
Are you thinking of engaging an answering service, how can you choose one that fits for your business?

Thinking of engaging the services of a telephone answering service?

Good for you, taking control and making sure you are providing fantastic customer service and ensuring you don’t miss any business. There are lots of service providers out there and in essence each does the same thing. However not all answering services are created equal. It really isn’t a, one size fits all first result after a quick ‘Google’ will do.

What do you want from an answering service?

Have a very clear idea of what you want the service to do for you. Make sure you speak to someone and chat about your requirements. Make sure your requirements are fully understood, as well as the type of business you operate and how you operate.

Getting the right phone number

Do you need a phone number to be supplied for your business if you don’t have one already? If so make sure that you have explored all the details of what is on offer. 0845 0870 and 0800 numbers are all fine if called from a land line but for people calling from a mobile phone there are cost implications to consider.

Think about an 03 or other geographic number instead as more and more people make calls from their mobile phone. Be clear on who actually ‘owns’ the number and what are the implications if you move away from the service? Would you want to lose all your past customers because they have the wrong phone number if you don’t own yours and can’t take it with you?


Questions to ask your potential provider

  1. Can I divert my calls?
  2. What hours does the service operate?
  3. Will I be allocated a receptionist or PA?
  4. Are the operators located in one place or do they work from home?
  5. What environment are your calls being answered in?
  6. How will my messages be delivered, by Email or SMS or even Fax?
  7. Does the service offer a trial period?
  8. Do you offer diary management, to book appointments?
  9. Does the service charge for sales calls / recorded messages?

Paying for your service

How does the service, charge? Some charge by the amount of time a call takes, others charge by the message. Some services offer a Pay As You Go BUT beware there may be a minimum spend or ‘credit’ per month.

Top tips

Make sure you have a read of any case studies or testimonials that are on offer to get a feel for how the service benefits other businesses.

Make sure that the contract period you are entering into is acceptable. Some offer a standard 28 days others up to 3 months, be aware of what you are signing up to.

Finally make sure that you can communicate with the service easily and any preferences you have can be changed or updated without a lengthy procedure.

Contact Answer-it today to arrange a free trial of the service.

Originally published as a guest post by  Chris Markham,  of Bizfix, the Cambridge-based business advice and support company

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