Shopping for an Answering Service
If answering services were all created equal, you could simply fire off an email to the first company you found and start using their services today. Like any service however, the range of services, features, benefits, drawbacks and costs of answering services that any given answering service may present you with is vast. Learning to wade through all the marketing speak and cut to the core of what you really need to look for in an answering service should make the shopping process a great deal more straight forward.
First, and most obvious, you should find a company that offers the services that you need. Don’t hold out and hope that they’ll add them later or that they’ll make special accommodations for you. For instance, if you need an answering service to also schedule appointments for you or your sales team, look for a company that offers exactly that. Toll-free numbers and local numbers are another option that some services provide, which can be useful if you deal with both a local and a nationwide client base.
Another thing to look at is how the answering service is set up, and whether or not this matches up with the type of service that you need. For instance, some companies offer 24-hour call answering services. This is a valuable thing if you deal with a worldwide client base, as it provides the means for your clients to contact you no matter what time-zone differential may exist between you.
Many people find a highly flexible answering service to be useful. For instance, being able to implement your own scripts and any policies or protocols that you want in place when the agents are dealing with customers on your behalf. The ability to have professional answering service agents who are completely dedicated to your campaign is also a feature that is sometimes offered. This is a useful option if you expect high volumes of calls coming in, and if you have especially complicated or technical information that you need learned by the agents before they can deal with your customers. A small pool of dedicated agents will better be able to handle clients with those types of needs.
Other things to consider are the languages that you need your answering service to be able to operate in. If you restrict your operations to a part of the world where all of your customers speak English, then this might not be a problem. On the other hand, if you have customers with a preferred language that is something other than English, there are call centers out there who can provide you with agents that speak those languages as well.