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Answering Services

There are a number of options available to provide answering services to the solo entrepreneur, business on the go, or small start-up that does not need a person to also greet walk in visitors.Answering service companies can provide professional quality services at a cost lower than having an underutilized staff person waiting for the phone to ring, and they can provide coverage around the clock without the staffing headaches of scheduling, vacations, off-hours work, and unexpected absences.

Answering services offerings include:

  • Receptionist services - traditional phone answering services. Compare companies based on the hours they will provide service (and whether the cost varies by time of day, day of week, or holidays). Look for commitments on how quickly they will answer a call, the greeting that will be used, and the receptionist's accent (very important if you are servicing a local clientele and want a local image). Extras can include any script for handling simple questions, what the caller will be told by the delivery of their message, your ability to monitor calls (realtime or afterwards) for quality, and use of small answering teams to build familiarity with your customers.
  • Message relay service - if you're on the go or want to be contacted during off-hours when you'll be out of your office, you can have your answering service deliver the caller's message by phone, page, or transfer the caller once they've located you.
  • Order taking - some services are delivered from full service call centers that can also handle order taking and product support for you. Although more costly and complicated, outsourcing these services along with your answering service can provided an integrated back office appearance to your customers.

Many call centers have branched out to provide web support services, too, such as online chat, inbound messaging, and email response. If these services are of interest, explore them before locking yourself into a long term contract with a provider that does not offer them.

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