How to Choose a Live Phone Answering Service

Finding the right phone answering service for your business is not an easy task especially if this is your first time. You might be tempted to rely on the advice of others who have been down that road before but keep in mind: every company is unique, and what was right for somebody else might not be right for you. To get started, here is a list of ideas to point you in the right direction and help you choose the best live phone answering service for your company.

Go with an answering service that specializes in your industry 

Make sure that the answering service you hire is not totally unrelated to your company and its business and has experience in your industry, is familiar with possible issues, and is equipped with the appropriate terminology. This knowledge can go a long way in building your callers’ and customers’ confidence.

Choose a 24/7 answering service 

If you are going to hire an answering service, make sure it is always available, and if someone calls your business in the middle of the night, there will be representatives waiting to answer the call, take a message, and deliver it to the appropriate location immediately or at the time you indicate. If your business doesn’t require 24/7 answering, you can always modify the schedule according to your company’s needs and extend the hours later if your situation changes. It is much easier than switching to a different service and starting all over. Also, remember to ask about the services during the holidays. While 24/7 implies that holidays are included, there might be exceptions.

Look for dedication and care 

In the process of choosing the answering service that best meets your needs, you will want to make sure that the company and its professionals will represent your business just as you and your internal team would. Ask the sales representative to play some sample calls for you and listen carefully to the way the agents interact with the callers. The subtleties such as their tone of voice and attitude can be very telling in determining whether or not this company offers a quality answering service..  

 Look for a customized greeting and other options

Ask if the software that the company is using identifies the source of each incoming call, and enables them to answer calls with the appropriate greeting that includes the name of your company. The greeting should be customizable in compliance with your instructions. In addition, the phone operators should be able to answer common questions related to your company if you wish to provide them with your list of FAQs.

 Ask how the messages are delivered 

You should be able to choose the way the messages are delivered to you.

Ask your perspective answering service company if the following delivery options are available:

  • Text Messages (secured or regular)
  • Email messages (secured or regular)
  • Fax messages
  • If you can call your service for your messages
  • If the answering service can call you with your messages at the time you choose
  • If your messages get recorded so you can listen to them any time
  • If your messages get delivered to multiple recipients using the options you select

You should be able to customize your plan and method of delivery at any time with the help of your dedicated Account Executive.

If your business has different departments or a list of vendors, find out if messages can be delivered to multiple on-call staff according to their schedules.

 Delivery time matters

Sometimes the ability to have the right information instantaneously could be a matter of retaining a customer or losing them to your competitor. Your messages should be delivered to you as soon as your answering service receives them unless you instruct them otherwise.

Privacy and confidentiality laws compliance 

If your company is a hospital or a medical facility, a law firm, or any business that has its clients’ private information in its possession, the answering service you hire should be 100% HIPAA compliant. For more information and specifics on HIPAA and how it relates to answering services, please read the HIPAA page.

 Don’t sign a long-term contract

Usually, a live phone answering service you hire will have a 12-week minimum-based contract. After this period expires, if you are not satisfied with the service, you should be able to cancel with no additional fees. Keep in mind that a 30-day notice might be required.

Check if bi-lingual options are  available

To serve your customers better and to expand your business, having a bilingual answering service is a great idea. Most quality answering services have bilingual call operators on staff so don’t forget to ask!

How to choose an answering service

To maximize the benefits of having a live phone answering service take your calls, you will have to do a couple of things consistently, such as communicating with the company and keeping them up-to-date to ensure the best quality service.

 Tell your Account Executive who your favorite clients are or how you like your calls answered. Update them on new employees joining your company or existing employees leaving, and provide them with the changes of telephone numbers or email addresses. Also, send them your calendar updates such as changed hours of operations or availability during the holidays. The more information they have, the better they can serve you.

Need more help?

If you have any questions about setting up your call answering service or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact us or call us for a free consultation at 888-588-9800.

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