How Does a Phone Answering Service Work?
- Consultation and Setup
- Professional, Prompt Answering Services
- Increased Profitability for Your Small Business
- Medical offices and healthcare
- Real Estate
- Home Services
- Financial services and accounting firms
- Marketing and advertising
- Transportation and logistics
- Education and tutoring
- Non-profit organizations
- Government agencies
- IT and technology
- Hospitality and tourism
- Retail and e-commerce
- Consulting and professional services
- Small businesses
- 24-Hour Answering Services
- Dispatching Services
- Call Patching
- Taking Messages
- Making Reservations or Scheduling Meetings
- Virtual Receptionist Services
- Voice Mail Services
- Custom Greetings
- Multilingual Support
- Appointment Scheduling and Reminders
- Lead Capture
- Customer Service
- Emergency Response
- Order Processing
- Services Offered
- Industry Experience
- Reputation and Reviews
- Technology and Security
- Price and Value
- Customer Service
Phone Answering services have become increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes, as they provide a reliable and cost-effective way to manage incoming calls and provide prompt customer service. According to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce MonitorTM survey, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) named calls as the most valued source of incoming leads, which fits nicely with the emotion that local businesses have toward calls. Bia/Kelsey also says that $64.6 billion is spent yearly on localized advertisements across all media to encourage calls to businesses.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, customers expect a quick response, and having a phone answering service can help businesses meet these expectations.
Let us explore the basics of answering services, how they work, the benefits they offer, and what to look for when choosing an answering service for your business.
What is a Phone Answering Service?
A telephone answering service is a type of service that specifically manages incoming telephone calls on behalf of another company or organisation. The service can be provided either by a live operator or an automated system, depending on the needs of the business.
A phone answering service typically provides a range of services, including answering calls, taking messages, providing information to callers, and forwarding calls to the appropriate department or person. Some phone answering services also offer appointment setting, order processing, and emergency dispatching.
Having a phone answering service can be especially important for small businesses or those without a dedicated receptionist. It ensures that calls are answered promptly and professionally, giving customers a positive impression of the business. Additionally, a phone answering service can free up staff to focus on other important tasks, ultimately improving productivity and profitability.
Types of Answering Services
There are several types of services available, including:
Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVR)
IVR is an automated system that uses pre-recorded voice prompts and touch-tone keypad inputs to interact with callers. IVR can provide basic information, route calls to the appropriate department, or perform simple tasks such as appointment setting or order processing.
Call centers are staffed by live operators who can answer inbound calls, take messages, provide information to callers, and handle more complex tasks such as technical support or customer service. Call centers can be outsourced or operated in-house.
Virtual receptionists are live operators who answer calls on behalf of business owners from remote locations. They can provide basic information, take messages, and forward calls to the appropriate department or person. Virtual receptionists are often used by small businesses or those without a dedicated receptionist. Mobo Co’s virtual office service package includes virtual receptionist services wherein our staff can professionally answer calls in your company name, take messages and forward them to you. The Virtual Office plan also comes with a mail forwarding service for emails and physical mail.
Each type of professional answering service has its own advantages and disadvantages, and businesses should carefully consider their needs before choosing a service provider. Factors such as call volume, the complexity of tasks, and budget should be taken into account when selecting a phone answering service.
Suggested Reading: What is a Virtual Office? Who it’s for & Top Benefits
How Does a Phone Answering Service Work?
A phone answering service works by providing live or automated assistance to callers who reach a business’s phone line. The process typically involves the following steps:
Consultation and Setup
Before the service can begin, the business and answering service provider will have a consultation to determine the specific needs and requirements of the business. This includes discussing call volume, the types of calls expected, and any special instructions or protocols. The service will then be set up and configured to meet these needs.
Professional, Prompt Answering Services
When a call is received, it is answered by a live operator or an automated system. Live operators can handle a range of tasks such as providing information, taking messages, and forwarding calls to the appropriate person or department. Automated systems use pre-recorded messages and prompts to interact with callers and can perform basic tasks such as scheduling appointments or processing orders.
Increased Profitability for Your Small Business
An answering service can help increase profitability for a small business by improving customer service, capturing leads, and reducing missed calls. By providing prompt and professional assistance to callers, businesses can enhance their reputation and build customer loyalty. They can also ensure that calls are answered during business hours and capture leads that might otherwise be lost.
Overall, an answering service provides a valuable service for businesses of all sizes, helping to improve customer satisfaction, increase efficiency, and boost profitability.
Industries That Utilise Phone Answering Services
Phone answering services can be utilised by a wide range of industries and businesses. Here are some examples of who uses phone answering services:
Medical offices and healthcare
Doctors, hospitals, and clinics can use medical answering services to handle patient inquiries, schedule appointments, and provide calls after hours support.
Law firms can use an answering service to manage incoming calls and schedule appointments, as well as handle client inquiries and provide basic legal information.
Real estate agents and brokers can use an answering service to manage inquiries from potential buyers and sellers, schedule appointments, and provide property information.
Home service providers such as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians can use an answering service to handle customer inquiries and dispatch technicians to job sites.
Online retailers can use an answering service to handle customer inquiries, process orders, and provide customer support.
Financial services and accounting firms
Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions can use an answering service to provide customer support, process transactions, and handle inquiries.
Marketing and advertising
Marketing and advertising agencies can use an answering service to manage incoming calls and provide customer support, as well as handle inquiries from potential clients.
Transportation and logistics
Shipping and logistics companies can use an answering service to manage customer inquiries and provide shipment tracking information.
Education and tutoring
Schools, universities, and tutoring centers can use an answering service to manage incoming calls, schedule appointments, and provide basic information to students and parents.
Non-profit organisations can use an answering service to handle donations, manage incoming calls, and provide customer support to donors and volunteers.
Government agencies can use an answering service to manage inquiries from citizens, process applications, and provide basic information about government services.
IT and technology
IT and technology companies can use an answering service to provide technical support, manage inquiries from customers, and schedule appointments with technicians.
Hospitality and tourism
Hotels, resorts, and tourism companies can use an answering service to manage reservations, handle customer inquiries, and provide after-hours support.
Retail and e-commerce
Retail stores and online retailers can use an answering service to handle customer inquiries, process orders, and provide customer support.
Consulting and professional services
Consulting firms and other professional services companies can use an answering service to manage incoming calls, schedule appointments, and provide customer support to clients.
Small businesses that may not have the resources to hire a full-time receptionist can benefit from phone answering services. They can ensure that calls are answered promptly and professionally without having to hire additional full-time employees.
Suggested Reading: Who Uses Coworking Spaces? Top Professionals and Industries Revealed
Benefits of a Phone Answering Service for Your Business
There are numerous benefits to having an answering service for your business, including:
Hiring a full-time receptionist can be costly, especially for small businesses. An answering service can provide the same level of coverage at a fraction of the cost.
A phone answering service provider can give 24-hour support, including after-hours, weekends, and holidays. This ensures that your customers can always reach someone when they need assistance.
With a phone answering service, you and your staff can focus on the core aspects of your business without being distracted by phone calls. This can increase productivity and efficiency.
Improve lead capture
An answering service can help capture potential leads by answering calls promptly and professionally. They can also assist with appointment scheduling and other customer inquiries, ensuring that leads are not missed.
Phone answering services can also provide businesses with a dedicated phone number that can be used for specific purposes such as customer support or sales inquiries. This allows businesses to separate these calls from their main phone line and ensure that they are handled appropriately.
A phone answering service can provide your business with a professional image and ensure that customer inquiries are handled promptly and efficiently, leading to increased customer satisfaction and potentially increase revenue.
Features and Services of a Phone Answering Service
24-Hour Answering Services
This service ensures that all calls to a business or organisation are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of the time or day. This ensures that customers or clients can always get in touch with the business, even outside of regular business hours.
Dispatching services are used to handle calls that require immediate attention or dispatching of personnel, such as emergency services or maintenance requests. The answering service can receive the call, gather relevant information, and then dispatch the appropriate personnel to handle the situation.
Call patching is a service that allows the answering service to transfer the call to the appropriate personnel or department within the business. This ensures that the caller can speak to the right person without being put on hold or transferred multiple times.
Answering services can take messages for businesses, recording important information such as the caller’s name, phone number, and reason for calling. The message is then relayed to the business via email, SMS, or other means.
Making Reservations or Scheduling Meetings
Answering services can also make reservations or schedule meetings on behalf of the business. The service can check availability and coordinate with the business to ensure that the appointment or reservation is scheduled at a convenient time.
Virtual Receptionist Services
Virtual receptionist services provide businesses with a professional virtual receptionist team to handle calls and greet callers, just like an in-house receptionist. This service can provide a professional image for the business and improve customer service.
Voice Mail Services
Voice mail services allow callers to leave a message when the business is closed or unable to answer the phone. The message is then saved for the business to listen to later, ensuring that important customer calls are not missed.
Customised and personalised greeting options for different types of callers, ensuring that each call is answered in a professional manner.
Answering services with multilingual support can communicate with callers who speak a language other than English, increasing the reach of businesses and organisations.
Appointment Scheduling and Reminders
Appointment scheduling and reminders can help businesses streamline their operations and minimise the chances of missed appointments or double bookings.
Answering services can capture information about leads, such as their contact details, interests, and requirements, which can help businesses nurture those leads and convert them into customers.
Some business phone answering services can offer exceptional customer service support, handling queries and complaints on behalf of the business and providing assistance to customers.
Answering services with emergency response capabilities can quickly route calls to the appropriate personnel in case of urgent calls, such as a medical emergency or a security breach.
Answering services can process orders for products or services, take payments and provide customers with order confirmation and tracking information.
Answering services may offer customised scripting services that allow businesses to tailor their call scripts to their specific needs and preferences.
How to Choose the Best Telephone Answering Service Provider
When choosing a telephone answering service provider, here are some key factors to consider:
Make sure the answering service offers the features and services you need, such as 24-hour service, call patching, message taking, appointment scheduling, etc.
Look for an answering service that has experience working with various types of businesses in your industry. This can ensure that the service understands your unique needs and can provide tailored support.
Reputation and Reviews
Research the answering service’s reputation and reviews from past and current clients. This can help you gauge the quality of their service and customer satisfaction.
Technology and Security
Consider the technology and security measures the answering service has in place, such as encryption, firewalls, backup systems, etc. This can help ensure the confidentiality and security of your business’s data.
Price and Value
Compare pricing and value between different answering services. While cost is important, it’s also important to consider the value of the service you’re receiving for the price.
Look for an answering service with excellent customer service and support. This can ensure that any issues or concerns are promptly addressed and resolved.
How Much Does a Phone Answering Service Cost at Mobo Co?
The cost of a phone answering service can vary depending on the provider and the specific features and services included in the package. Some providers charge per call, while others may charge a monthly or annual fee for a certain volume of calls or minutes. Mobo Co’s virtual office + receptionist package is at $200/month and it lets you use Mobo Co’s South Brisbane address as your own business address, and our virtual receptionists will answer calls and receive mail on behalf of your business. Book a tour today to see Mobo Co for yourself.
A phone answering service can be a valuable asset for businesses in various industries. By outsourcing call handling to a professional and reliable service provider, businesses can save money, boost productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. Key features and services offered by answering services include 24/7 availability, dispatching services, call patching, message taking, appointment scheduling, virtual receptionist services, and voice mail services. When choosing an answering service provider, businesses should consider factors such as pricing, experience, reliability, and customisation options. An exceptional service can help businesses stay competitive in today’s fast-paced and demanding business landscape.