Outsourcing your calls to an external service provider can leave most businesses feeling apprehensive. So how do you go about choosing the right call handling provider for you?
Andy MacGregor, Managing Director, Face for Business
You may be at a point in your start-up or small business where you have too many incoming calls to manage on your own. Or alternatively, your growing business has expanded and you need a little additional support with your reception or switchboard. You may have googled 'help with my business calls' or perhaps you have asked associates or contacts how they manage their incoming business calls, then sought to seek a solution in the form of a phone answering service. If so, we have prepared a guide to choosing the best telephone answering service and hope that we have covered the main questions you would like answering.
You many want to ask...
Do they offer you a Lead PA?
Do you have a Lead PA or a pool of PAs who know your business inside and out, and have a briefing process in place, which ensures that whoever answers your calls, knows your business? What happens if your ‘Lead PA’ goes on lunch or is on holiday? Is there a pool of PAs who are kept up to speed with your company details and movements? How do you know that their PAs are experienced and have the necessary interpersonal skills? Do you look for quality of staff when choosing a call handler? Are the PAs of your chosen call answering service put through a rigorous training process? Are they IQ and psychometrically tested, ensuring that their PAs are of a high standard, can thrive under pressure and are good at obtaining information and value customer service?
Can you access the service?
Most phone answering services offer email/sms for your messages but can you access your own client portal, or does the provider you're researching have an app for smartphones that is easy to use and accessible? Does it allow you to update your status yourself, to let your PA know your whereabouts, and to give call handling instructions? Can you view your pricing package information, see how many units you’ve used, and can you optimise your own bill?
Are their calls recorded?
Many say that all their calls are recorded, but are you offered the ability to listen to your calls for quality assurance? Can you log in to your own portal, in your own time, and listen to your PA in action, interacting with your caller/potential client?
Can you monitor the service levels your callers receive and give feedback?
Is the service honest and open? Can you give your virtual receptionists feedback? Are you encouraged to leave positive and constructive feedback for each and every call? Why does this matter? Because it shows that the telephone answering service wants to improve its service for you.
How do you know you’re dealing with a quality company?
Does the phone answering service that you’re looking at have an external quality standard? Can they prove that they’re dedicated to providing you with a first-class telephone answering service? How long have they been taking calls for? Look for testimonials, client feedback or check they have achieved a quality standard with a recognised external organisation. For example, do they have ISO 9001, proving that they have a recognised benchmark of best practice?
What will they offer you to evaluate their service?
Does the provider offer you a free trial to test and evaluate their phone answering service? Are they helpful? Will they provide you with free set up and assist you with any queries or technical issues?
There are many telephone answering services touting for your business, each one offering similar services, but when you look closer each one is different, and you have to filter out what’s most important to you and your business. Ask yourself all the above questions when looking for someone to represent you and your business and choose the best possible service you can get, with excellent value for money. You would want to know how an employed member of staff is doing, and it’s no different when outsourcing to a telephone answering service. Honesty and openness are qualities to demand.
Outsourcing business calls is a big decision
Here at Face for Business we pride ourselves on our PAs (who are the difference) who go the extra mile to make it their business to know yours. We would encourage you to do your research. Take a look at our client testimonials and perhaps give them a call to see what they still say about our service. It is a big decision outsourcing your calls and it's one that you won't take lightly, so we hope our guide will serve you well in your quest to find the best telephone answering service for you.
Would you like to talk about our service?
Please do call a member of our team on 0333 323 1007 if you would like an informal chat about how our service works. Alternatively you can email or complete a form on our free trial page here.
The above content was originally published, by Face for Business, as a downloadable PDF guide in May 2017.