What Is a Call Answering Service and How Can It Help Your Business?

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What Is a Call Answering Service and How Can It Help Your Business?

A Call answering service, sometimes called a virtual receptionist service, is used by businesses that don’t have enough staff to handle all of their calls in-house. The answering service takes calls on the business’s behalf, and then takes a message or transfers the call through to the right person in the business.

How does it work?

When you sign up with an answering service, the provider gives you a new telephone number for you to divert your calls to. Once the divert is set up, all of the calls coming in to your business will be redirected to the answering service.

In most instances your calls will be sent to a large contact centre, where a team of PAs will be waiting to talk to your callers. You only ever pay for the time spent handling your calls, which makes a telephone answering service a cost-effective alternative to employing a receptionist in-house.

The PA handling your calls will follow scripts that you have agreed to. This ensures that they answer the calls exactly as you want them to, and that they get every piece of information you need from the callers. They then take messages, which are sent to you in real time, or they transfer the calls through to the right people in your business.

As answering services employ many PAs, they are able to take multiple calls on your behalf at any given time, so your phone lines will never be engaged.

Some providers also offer additional services like diary management, appointment booking, and emergency callout – which can be highly beneficial in specific industries.

telephone answering service

Who can use an answering service?

Any business that uses the telephone would benefit from this service.

Telephone answering can be used as a fully outsourced solution to managing your phone lines (i.e. handling every single call that comes into the business) or it can be used to support your existing system to handle overflow and out-of-hours calls.

However you choose to use it, an answering service makes sure you never miss a call.

These services can be particularly effective for small businesses that can’t afford to employ additional receptionists in-house, or businesses that experience spikes of high call volume.

An example of this would be a law firm that provides conveyancing services. While they may be able to manage their own calls for most of the week, there will be times when they experience rushes of calls (such as Friday afternoons) – and it is here that they would benefit from the support of a telephone answering service. As they only need the additional support at this busy time, an answering service is a far more cost-effective solution than employing additional full-time staff.

More than just message taking

While the majority of telephone answering providers only offer basic message taking services or switchboard services, other providers (like us) have wider ranges of options available, which can greatly improve the efficiency savings made by outsourcing your call handling.

1. Diary management and appointment booking

With a diary management and appointment booking service, your provider integrates with your diary or booking systems so that they can book and rearrange appointments on behalf of your customers. This has a wide range of applications, from things like making bookings in restaurants to arranging appointments at vets’ or doctors’ surgeries.

2. Customer service lines

When you choose a customer service option, your provider handles the entire enquiry each caller makes, rather than just taking a message from them. This is achieved by providing the PAs with expert training on your business and giving them access to your systems. telephone answering alldaypaThis works well for businesses like ecommerce companies, because the answering service can take the calls and provide information like expected delivery times, and can even go as far as handling complaints.

3. Helpdesk support and engineer callout

Some businesses, like IT service providers or housing associations, have service level agreements (SLAs) with their clients, in order to provide a rapid responses to any problems they experience. A 24-hour helpdesk and engineer callout service is a cost-effective way of meeting these SLAs. An answering service will triage the calls that come into the helpdesk and assist them by following a series of scripted FAQs or, if necessary, arrange for engineers to go out and deal with the problems on-site.

Find out more

If you think a telephone answering service would be beneficial for your business and you would like to find out more, get in touch with a member of our team today to discuss it further. Call us now on 0345 056 8888.

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