Choosing a business answering service company is a big decision. Make sure to ask these questions to ensure that you make the right choice!
Great! You've decided that a business answering service is what's needed for your company. Now, the next step is finding the business answering service that will meet your needs while being pleasant to work with. There are TONS of business answering services and companies out there, so it can be tough to narrow down your choices. Here are five questions to ask a business answering service company, which will make it easier to figure out who can best deliver this service for you:
- Can I provide a script, or information on how to handle calls for my company? - It's one thing to have someone answer the phone, but it's another thing if you need this person answering customer questions or providing specific information about your business or industry. It's crucial to consider how much training you'll be able to give those who will be your answering service, and even how many different people will be part of your business answering service. If the company is going to assign two or three people to your company, then training might not be problem. However, if the company will have a different person answering the phone each day, then briefing everyone on the knowledge they need will be difficult.
- Are you able to screen and to forward calls? - This is an important question for very small businesses and solopreneurs. No one wants the business answering service to take calls blindly (particularly ones from those pesky telemarketers). However, we also don't want the service giving the runaround to our best clients. So, finding a business answering service that will screen calls, while also forwarding the important ones to a cell phone will be incredibly helpful. Regarding the in between, the person originally taking the calls could answer questions or direct the caller to right place.
- Are you folks able to handle orders and/or appointments? - Even with all the technology available to take orders online and to book online appointments, many people still like to do it on the phone. If this aspect is still an integral part of your business, then you need a business answering service who can do these things for you and forward you the information. This question also ties in with number one, as the service also needs to be able to see what's already been ordered or booked. A business answering service will only hurt you if they continually double-book appointments or call customers back telling them what they want is out of stock.
- How do you handle messages? - Most business answering service companies have messages set up in a number of ways. You can have them delivered via voice mail, text, email, or fax. It's up to you to determine which is best for you, and which companies deliver in the way that's best for you. It's also important to figure out how the business answering service will take the message, as in what information they will, or ought, to take when taking a message.
- Do you have a business answering service specific to my industry or service? - Those with a law firm or a medical practice might prefer a business answering service that's experienced in those industries. Obviously, a law or medical practice will need someone who can handle their clientele well, and will be able to get the information they need from the callers. Most business answering service companies offer more than a general answering service, and have either special answering services or at least experience in working with attorneys, chiropractors, startups etc.
Overall, not all business answering services are created equal, and it's ultimately up to you to figure out which company can best meet your needs. For most, that's more than a simple answering service, but a business answering service that will actually help grow the business and improve operations.