8 Things to Consider When Choosing an Office Answering Service
Are you at the point where you need support from an office answering service?
When things go well in business, it normally means things get harder. Busy means money, but it can get to a point when you’re too busy to make any money.
Something’s got to give.
A good place to start is with an office answering service. When you outsource your calls to an office answering service it frees up a huge amount of time for your staff to focus on revenue generating activities.
But what do you need to consider when choosing an office answering service?
Do you have remote workers?
One of the main reasons businesses will choose an office answering service is if they have remote workers.
Remote working is becoming increasingly popular, and an office answering service is a great way to support your staff when they’re working remotely.
An office answering service gives them the flexibility to work from home as there’s no need for them to be tied to their desk in case a call comes in.
Let the answering service act as a central hub for any calls that come into the business and simply route them to right people wherever they are.
The only thing you need to double check is that your office answering service will transfer calls as well as take messages.
Call transfers are essential when it comes to choosing an office answering service from remote workers.
Do you need 24/7 from your office answering service?
Are you a 24/7 business?
If you are, what use is having an office answering service that stops at 8pm?
Believe it or not, not all office answering services are open 24/7. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the office answering service you choose is open during the times you want your calls to be answered.
If you want your phone lines to be open until 8, the answering service needs to be open till 8.
If you want to take calls at 3 in the morning, guess what? You need an office answering company who’s got someone ready and waiting to take that call.
It seems obvious, but you don’t want to sign a contract with an office answering company only to discover you have to pay extra if you want calls answered outside of normal business hours.
Get it right from the off and ask if office answering services are 24/7 before you go any further.
Do you need overflow or all calls answering?
There’s an important distinction to be made when it comes to outsourcing calls to an office answering service and that question is do you want to outsource your calls or do you just want an overflow reception service?
If you don’t know what call overflow means, it’s basically any calls you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get to.
This means anyone who would have rung out or gone to an answering machine.
If you’re still going to have people answering customer calls and you just need support for busy periods, then overflow will be fine.
If you don’t want to take any calls, then you need to fully outsource them.
From a technical standpoint it’s just as easy to outsource overflow as it is to outsource all your calls, however it’s important to decide which one you want, otherwise could end up buying more minutes than you need.
Do you need order taking?
If you’re a retailer it’s worth considering incorporating order taking into your office answering service.
While it’s possible that people wanting to place an order could leave a message and wait for a call back, it provides a far better user journey if they can place their order straight away with the office answering service over the phone.
Due to data protection laws, not every office answering company is willing to provide an order taking service.
If you’re a retailer and you’re looking for an office answering service, it could be worth going with a company that provides order taking even if you don’t need it immediately.
It will give you the option to have it in the future if you realise you’re frustrating callers by not letting them place orders straight away.
Do you need diary management?
If you have a business that relies on regular meetings with clients, like an estate agents or a medical practice, for example, you can’t overlook the value of diary management service with your office answering service.
A diary management service will make sure that when people call in, they can book an appointment there and then.
Your callers will appreciate it as it means they can get everything sorted in one phone call and your staff will appreciate it because it means their books are always full.
When it comes to choosing an office answering service, diary management is a must for a lot of businesses.
Do you have international callers into your office?
There are two things to consider if you take international calls when it comes to choosing an office answering service.
The first, as we’ve already covered is 24/7 cover.
You need an office answering service that can deal with calls from every time zone.
The second is translation services.
Some office answering companies can provide translation services which will make it much easier to talk to people from other countries if they have a different language.
Make sure to look into both of these things before choosing your office answering service.
Do you need and office answering service that will dial out?
While all office answering services will take calls, only a few will be happy to dial out on the caller’s behalf.
You’d need this for things like calling engineers if you’re a facilities management company or dialling out to on call solicitors if you’re a law firm.
If you’re looking into office answering companies, think carefully about if you’ll ever require them to talk to people outside of your organisation.
If you do, you’ll need an office answering company that is willing to dial out.
Do you need a service that integrates with your office?
The final thing to consider when choosing an office answering service is deciding what you need it to integrate with.
If you have a CRM system like Salesforce or Hubspot it might be beneficial if your office answering service can integrate with it to keep a log of when your customers get in touch.
Similarly, if you have a preferred billing system like Paypal or Worldpay, it’s going to be important that the office answering service can integrate with it if you’re planning on having an order taking line.
Make a list of all the software you use on a regular basis and decide which ones you want your office answering service to integrate with.
It will make your life much easier in the long run.