What's more frustrating - having no way to reach a business by phone or calling and getting stuck in an endless stream of prompts?

 

An automated call answering service could be making your callers hate your company.

 

The right answering service can do the opposite. It can reduce missed calls and improve the experience, leading to happier customers who want to spend their money with you.

 

Let's look at some options for call answering systems and how to choose the right one for your business.

 

The Purpose of a Call Answering Service

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The basic purpose of an answering service is to answer phone calls. There are several types of answering services, with varying amounts of caller interaction.

 

Automated Answering Services

Automated services offer access to information or services without having to speak to anyone. This is the typical "Press 1 for A, press 2 for B" type of system you're probably familiar with.

 

While automated systems are technically answering services, they're not ideal because they can't react to every possible situation. If the prompts don't address what your caller needs, it's no better than if they couldn't call you at all.

 

And as we already pointed out, it could lead to more frustrated callers than having no way to call you in the first place.

 

Live Answering Services

Live services have a real person answering your calls and provide much more flexibility in what kind of service they can offer. They might take messages, forward calls, refer callers elsewhere or provide information right on the call.

 

Call Centers

Call centers are a larger scale version of a live answering service. If your business has a large volume of calls, a call center has the resources to manage them.

 

When shopping for an answering service, look for one that caters to your type of business. If you're a one-person company, for example, look for a service that offers virtual office services for people in your situation.

 

You can also look for services certified by the Association of TeleServices International (ATSI), a trade association for the answering service industry, or other answering service training programs.

 

More than Just Answering the Phone

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While an answering service is mainly there to answer calls for you, they offer some nice side-effects.

 

They'll increase your availability, even up to 24 hours a day. You and your staff can focus on the higher-value work, such as face-to-face meetings with clients and making sales, while the answering service takes care of the phone.

 

This is even more valuable if you're a solo entrepreneur. And if that's the case, your callers will never know. As far as they're concerned, you could be a large company with your own reception staff.

 

Answering services will enhance your company's image. They can provide information, answer questions, refer callers to the appropriate person and various other things that will create happy customers.

 

The Bottom Line? Your Bottom Line

While these benefits are important, what it comes down to is that a call answering service can improve your company's bottom line. Between creating satisfied customers and freeing you up to focus on more valuable tasks, an answering service can pay for itself many times over.

 

If you're still answering your own phone calls - or worse, not answering them - consider outsourcing that part of your work to an answering service. Think of it as an investment that can pay you back many times over.