When one of your customers calls your business after closing, what kind of answer do they get? The answer to this question can have quite an impact on how your clients perceive your customer service, and therefore on your bottom line. Almost any business requires some kind of after hours answering service, but the details depend on how often your clients call after hours, if those calls are urgent, and how much you’re willing to invest in customer care.
Automated Answering Services Vs. Live Answering Services
Automated answering services may be sufficient for certain kinds of business; automated systems can provide hours or allow customers to leave messages, often after pressing a certain number that directs them to their desired action (for example, press 1 for hours, 2 for directions and 3 to leave a voicemail). But automated answering services can lack a personal touch and frustrate callers. Sometimes then, it’s worth paying a little more for a live telephone answering service.
Live phone answering services are particularly important if late calls sometimes address emergencies, which is why doctors, lawyers and property management companies so often have live 24 hour answering services. Hiring an answering service allows patients, clients or residents to report emergencies and be connected to someone from your company if necessary — without your business needing to sustain full round-the-clock staffing.
Choosing a Quality Answering Service
If you’ve decided that live answering services are best for your business, it’s time to move to the next step: finding the right company. Here are a few things to consider when you’re trying to choose among the many answering services out there:
- Call Center Location: Hiring an answering service whose workers are outside the U.S. can frustrate callers who struggle to understand foreign accents.
- Industry Certification: There are various associations in the U.S. that approve answering companies. The most important is the ATSI, so it’s wise to choose a company that’s ATSI certified; remember, this company will be representing you to your callers.
- Specialized Skill Sets: Some companies may specialize in, for example, medical telephone answering services. This can be important when it comes to dealing with distressed patients and clearly communicating medical information.
Do you have any other tips for choosing a live or automated answering service? Share your advice in the comments.
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