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With so many options out there, it can be tricky to pick the best answering service. To help, we’ve put together five tips for helping you choose the right one.

All answering service might seem equal at first glance—most offer the same baseline service, and price competition means most of the quality services are in the same ballpark. So how do you know which professional, US-based inbound call center is best for your business? How can you make sure you and your customers will get the quality call answering experience you’re after? Here are five tips to help you do exactly that.

1. Check Your Call Center’s Technology

Telephones might seem like old school technology, but more modern innovations have revolutionized the way telephones function behind the scenes and have introduced a host of new capabilities. Look into your potential answering service’s latest updates, and see how they stack up in terms of ensuring availability and reliability—a good call center ought to be able to cover your phone lines no matter what’s happening at your place of business, even when your direct line is down due to a service interruption.

2. Make Sure Your Calls are Answered Securely

Security boosts are another product of new technological innovations. Certain industries, including businesses in the medical and legal professions, need extra guarantees of confidentiality and security. And these components are essential for any company looking for secure order processing from their answering service. Protect your business and your customer’s information by choosing a call center that is fully HIPAA and PCI compliant. Make sure you know what type of security you require, and then ask your sales rep to describe their standards and procedures to make sure everything matches up.

3. Look Into Your Answering Service’s Client Profile

Most call centers serve a variety of businesses that range widely in terms of size and call volume, but see where your answering service’s offerings are concentrated. If they seem to focus more on large, high-volume sales-based enterprises and you’re a small service provider looking for non-sales receptionist services, it might be best to find another call center. If you need more sales assistance, a basic virtual receptionist service might not be ideal. Also, don’t forget to ask them for references from clients that are in the same industry as yours so you can accurately gauge the type of service you will be receiving.

4. Ask About Call Quality Assurance

All answering services make a lot of promises regarding the professional training their phone representatives receive, but ask about specific procedures in place for ongoing quality assurance and you might be greeted with silence or stammering. Your call center should have a clear system in place for ensuring that every call lives up to your company’s standards of customer service, including call monitoring, regular feedback to receptionists, and updates to you regarding problem calls or other issues that arise.

5. Ensure Flexibility in Your Answering Service Plan

While prices tend to be fairly similar among US-based call centers, costs associated with changing your service plan—from using extra minutes during seasons of higher call volume to switching to 24/7 coverage during periods when your business loses phone capabilities due to weather or another emergency situation—can vary considerably. Look at how much changing your coverage will cost you, and choose a service accordingly. And one more regarding pricing: Be wary of the cheapest provider out there. The old adage of getting what you pay for certainly holds true when it comes to answering services.

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