• Michael Bolt

What to Look for in a Telephone Answering Service

A telephone answering service can be an invaluable resource for any growing or established business. Providing good customer service over the phone can be the difference between a one time customer and a recurring customer. If you choose the right company to outsource your telephone answering to, you can rest assured that customers will have a positive experience and give yourself the opportunity to focus time and resources on other areas of your business. The following are a few things every business owner should look for in a good telephone answering service.

No Long-Term Contracts The world of business is incredibly fast paced and as such making commitments to services over a long period of time can be a bad move. If your business model changes or business doesn’t go as well as you would like you can find yourself tied into contracts for things you don’t want or need. A good telephone answering provider will understand this and offer short term contracts to give you the flexibility you need.

Affordable Over recent years it has become increasingly common for people to outsource aspects of their business. There are of course many great reasons to do this but one of the biggest motivators for business owners is money. Typically, at least in small and medium enterprises, outsourcing is far more cost effective than hiring traditional employees. For this reason it’s important to find a cost effective, affordable telephone answering solution otherwise you may be somewhat defeating the point of outsourcing.

On the other hand, your business may have reached the point where you do have an in-house member of staff or team to handle your telephone answering. That’s great but what do you do when they go on holiday or have long periods of illness? A telephone answering service can be the ideal way to replace these staff members temporarily. Similarly, if your in-house team is no longer enough to handle the volume of calls you receive but you’re not sure you can warrant taking someone else on full-time, a phone answering service is a great way to bridge the gap.

Based in the UK When looking for a telephone answering service, you might be tempted to look overseas to bring the costs down even further. While some of these companies are probably very good, as a UK business your best bet will usually be to find a service in the UK. However good the service, a lot of people in this country seem wary of overseas call centres.

Additionally, if you are an international business looking to branch out into the UK market, choosing a UK phone answering service provider can be the best way to do so. Potential UK based customers are more likely to respond well to speaking to someone in the UK than overseas. You might also consider investing in a UK address to affirm your UK presence.

Friendly & Helpful Staff Having friendly staff who are willing to help is possibly the most important thing of all to look for. At the end of the day, the fact that your telephone answering is outsourced is irrelevant, the person on the end of the phone is a representative of your business and their attitude will reflect on you.

One of the best ways to gauge how good a telephone answering company will be in this regard is to phone them with your enquiry rather than sending an email. The speed of response, friendliness, professionalism and ability to deal with your needs are all good indicators of how well they would represent your business.

Understanding of Your Business Ideally when looking for a quality telephone answering service, the company you choose should be willing to gather all of the information on your business and train their staff accordingly. It’s one thing to be friendly but the people answering your phones really need to have a solid grasp on the business you’re in so they can make good decisions on how to deal with certain enquiries. That’s not to say they should be an expert in your field, they just need to know what your company is about and understand what you do.

Call Escalation The needs of your business are likely very different to those of others and a phone answering service should be flexible to these needs. You should be able to choose how your calls are handled. This could mean having them patched directly through to you or having messages delivered by email or SMS.

Here at Need More Time we offer all of the things I have talked about above. If you would like to discuss how our virtual office or telephone answering services could help you and your business please get in touch by email or call us on 020 3303 3303.