How Does an Answering Service Work?
There’s a growing demand for efficient customer support and for a good reason. Effective customer service isn’t just about supporting your customers, but it offers an opportunity to drive more sales and grow revenue. With better and improved customer service, businesses can grow revenue up to 8% above their market and play a significant role in the general customer lifecycle.
Customer service is the direct link between your business and customers as it retains and extracts more value from them. By prioritizing quality customer service, your business can recover acquisition costs and help cultivate a loyal customer base that refers new customers and provides reviews and testimonials.
This is why you need to enlist the services of an answering service. As your business grows, you face new challenges regarding resource management to offer top-notch customer service. Using an answering service frees employees from tending to phone calls throughout the day, so they can handle other important business tasks. Over 80% of business communications are conducted over the phone, implying the need for a professional answering system has never been greater. With a virtual receptionist, you’ll never miss a call again.
Let’s explore the answers to the questions, “How does an answering service work?” and “How can my business benefit from the service?”
How Does an Answering Service Work?
Unlike a call center, an answering service focuses on answering emergency and after-hour calls on behalf of businesses. When you hire an answering service, you’re paying someone else to represent your organization or business over the phone and attend to callers’ needs. Their primary roles include forwarding callers to the correct department, taking messages, selling to prospects, resolving client issues, collecting customer feedback, and more. You can also use a virtual receptionist who is a trained customer service professional with the right skills and understanding of how best to represent your brand.
The Role of Virtual Receptionists
A virtual receptionist, also known as a live receptionist, provides various services to boost your business’s capability of managing incoming calls from clients, adding professionalism to your brand. These professionals serve the same role as your in-house receptionist, such as managing and setting appointments, taking messages, and answering phone calls.
The only difference is that they work remotely or in a call center. Virtual receptionists provide personalized attention to calls without requiring you to hire, train, and manage in-house employees and all the extra burdens and expenses that go with it. In other words, virtual receptionists are an affordable extension of your business.
How Does An Answering Service Work? Key Features and Capabilities
The central role of an answering service is to make and answer calls and give out information on behalf of a business. They are especially important for small and medium-sized enterprises without the financial muscle to hire in-house employees to handle their volume of calls. Besides, many business owners, such as plumbers, electricians, and doctors, wear many hats, and an answering service allows them to handle calls without losing their business to competitors.
Some of the main roles of an answering service include the following:
- Call screening and call forwarding
- Message-taking and voicemail services
- Appointment scheduling and calendar management
- Order processing and e-commerce support
- Multilingual support and global reach
- Payment processing
- Answering messages via social media, SMS, and live chat
- Performing outreach campaigns
- Selling to prospects
- Resolving customer issues
- Collecting customer feedback
- Forwarding callers to the right department
Benefits of Outsourcing Customer Support to an Answering Service
Customers expect top-notch and immediate customer support in the modern competitive business world. A quality answering service provides numerous client engagement and satisfaction benefits.
These benefits include the following:
Customer Experience and Satisfaction
Outstanding customer experience is as crucial as your services and products. Customers expect an efficient, consistent, and professional customer service level from every business they use or are thinking of using. These prospective customers rarely make several attempts to get in touch and jump to the next competitor.
Poor customer service costs businesses a lot of money, and one ideal way to avoid this is to ensure all your calls are handled effectively and professionally. By using an answering service, you can ensure that you’ll never miss a call again, and every call will get the best service from highly-trained individuals.
Cost-Effectiveness and Scalability
Starting and running a business is expensive so keeping your costs to a minimum is crucial — especially in the early stages of your new venture. Hiring full-time receptionists and installing the required equipment is virtually impossible for many small and medium-sized businesses, but missed calls can negatively affect your ability to retain customers and secure future business.
Other businesses also experience demand fluctuations with high and low periods throughout the year. Outsourcing the task is much easier and cheaper as the answering service has the needed resources and skills to handle the needs of all business types, including the ability to handle unexpected fluctuations in call volume. An answering service gives you peace of mind knowing that all your calls are being answered. At the same time, you keep your costs to a minimum, allowing you to boost your profit margin.
An answering service ensures you’re available to clients across multiple channels 24/7. The service team can always answer customer requests via email, live chat, phone, and social media.
Most customers won’t wait for operational hours to have their issues resolved. Offering immediate customer service ensures you interact with them on the customer’s schedule, which will help improve your bounce rate.
Professionalism and Reliability
Answering service professionals are highly trained to represent your brand in the best way possible. They’re also available at all hours, ensuring customer inquiries are handled professionally and reliably. Answering services also help you establish control because when you’re forced to balance too many areas of your business, it can result in negligence and mismanagement over time.
As a result, outsourcing some of your departments, such as customer support, can help you apply more control and focus on your primary business goals. In addition, the answering service can offer extra management support you could lack.
Improve Your Brand Image
Regardless of your business methods, letting calls ring out or go straight to voicemail during business hours can send the wrong signal to existing and prospective customers. Handling every call with a highly-skilled and trained virtual receptionist can significantly impact your brand image.
It helps legitimize your business and produce the right impression that you’re an efficient, dependable, and established business. It’s also more efficient and reliable compared to a mobile phone that could have poor receptionists resulting in dropped or missed calls or low-quality audio. All these can frustrate your callers, leading to potential revenue loss.
Other benefits include:
- Expanding your resources
- Increased efficiency
- Better risk management
- Never missing a call
- Reduce the risk of lost sales
- Allows you and your team to focus on other important business tasks
- Provide after-hours support
How to Choose the Right Answering Service or Virtual Receptionist
You must choose the right virtual receptionist service to reap all the benefits. One feature to look for is highly-trained professionals prepared for the issues and requests common to your callers. Not every virtual receptionist can meet your business standards, especially if you run a specialized or complex business. You should hire a virtual receptionist trained in your specific customer niche or industry.
The right agent should be ready to set everything in motion correctly. There’s no shortage of possible hitches between incorrectly installed automated systems, poor-quality phone equipment, failed transfers, call forwarding errors, and more.
As a result, a technologically-savvy virtual receptionist will safeguard you against these issues. Ensure your agents speak your language and stick with it. You should look for agents who can maintain a consistent brand voice using the correct industry terminology and a tone that fits your business brand. Lastly, you want to hire a virtual receptionist with a sensible pricing model.
A virtual receptionist can offer excellent customer support and help with conversions. Still, they can’t generate calls without them already coming in.
Other factors to look for when hiring a virtual receptionist service include the following:
- Easy extension of your service
- Around-the-clock coverage
- Scalability and flexibility
- Agents providing the services you need
- Reliability and quality at every touch point
- The benefits of their services compared to your business needs
What to Avoid When Selecting a Virtual Receptionist Service
Here are the red flags to look for when selecting a virtual receptionist service for your business:
- Extra costs for call handling types such as payment processing or appointment-setting
- Added costs for integrations
- Any service not providing 24/7 coverage throughout the year
- Contracts locking you into rates, the service, or call volumes, especially for year-long periods
- Limited call handling instructions that read like a script and not like your business
Now that we’ve answered your question, “How does an answering service work?” and discussed the benefits it can bring to your business, it’s time to figure out if a virtual receptionist is right for you.
Hiring a virtual receptionist is your best bet if you want to improve your customer satisfaction, generate more business and revenues, and stand out from your competition. Be sure to explore all of our virtual receptionist services through My Receptionist, and contact us to get started.