6 Ways To Determine If an Answering Service Is Right For You
Nick Werker April 12, 2017
It is a real trend that, when searching for an answering service, consumers usually search for “answering service reviews.” The intention here is pure, but the execution might lack if you are not armed with the right tools to evaluate an answering service for yourself once you research answering service reviews, you still might end up making a decision that is not right for you. That is why we’ve compiled criteria for you to evaluate an answering service before you ultimately make a decision.
Does Your Business Provide Some Sort of Emergency Relief?
Think about it: if people could potentially call you at 2 o’clock in the morning with an emergency that they need you to come and solve right then and there, then you need to make sure that you have a 24 hour answering service. For example: if you are a criminal defense attorney, and someone is trying to call you late at night about a DUI they were just arrested for, and you don’t answer the phone, that person will call another defense attorney to help him right away! Having a live person answer your phone and transfer it to the appropriate person can help you capture that new caller and help him right then and there, rather than losing out on that new business.
Do a Portion of Your Callers Speak Spanish?
If the people calling to hire you for your services speak Spanish, then it is likely that you have someone in your office that can handle the calls in Spanish, or you speak Spanish yourself! Either way, you’ve already established a plan to handle these calls when you are inside of your office, but if your Spanish speaking clients are calling you on the nights or weekends, you’ll need a bilingual answering service to help you answer all of the calls. If you can’t speak Spanish yourself, and haven’t hired anyone to help you handle the Spanish speaking callers, then you’ll absolutely need to hire a bilingual answering service to help you answer all of the incoming calls. You never want to give a caller the impression that you don’t speak the language he/she is speaking, because the will ultimately cause the caller to hang up and try to find help elsewhere. By having a 24/7 bilingual answering service, your callers will always speak to a live representative of your business, and will be able to communicate with the representative in Spanish! This will increase the amount of leads you capture, and the amount of conversions you see from your calls.
Do You Need Specific Questions Asked?
When potential customers try to call you, are there specific questions that you need to ask the caller in order to ensure that you can help them as soon as possible with their matter? We at Answering Legal are no stranger to this, as we provide customized legal intakes for thousands of attorneys each day, and we understand the importance of having the right information instantly. For this reason, if it is important to your business model that specific questions are asked and the right information is relayed to the correct person within your business, you’ll need an answering service that can handle new customer intake. If you hire a simple message center that unenthusiastically answers the phone and simply lets callers know you are unavailable, you aren’t hearing about callers quickly enough, and you won’t have the information you need to call the person back and obtain his/her business. Hiring a robust answering service that will allow you to customize your intake questions will help you convert new customers instead of losing out.
How Fast is the Answering Service’s Pickup Time?
You might not even notice that you do it, but after a phone call rings a certain amount of times, you are more likely to hang up before anyone answers the call or before the automated voicemail system picks up the call. With each ring, callers lose more and more confidence that there is someone at the other end of the line that is going to answer the phone and help them with the matter their call is regarding. If an answering service takes a long time to answer, that likely means they are understaffed and calls are taking too long to be answered. This is something that can hurt your business almost instantly! Make sure that your answering service is answering calls promptly, but isn’t rushing so much through each call that they offend your callers. You’ll want to get feedback from your callers every so often to make sure that their interaction with your answering service isn’t one that would have them hang up and look for help elsewhere.
How Long is the Answering Service’s Hold Time?
Much like how we previously suggested you monitor your answering service’s pickup time, you’ll want to make sure your callers aren’t being placed on hold for long periods of time. If your callers are complaining that they had to wait a long time before they could actually speak to someone, and this becomes a recurring problem, that is a symptom of your answering service being understaffed. Callers do not want to wait, and if a potentially new customer has to wait a long time to speak to someone, odds are he/she will hang up and look for help elsewhere. Make sure that your answering service’s hold times are either non-existent, or only for a brief period of time when the receptionist is patching the call through to you, AFTER he/she has told the caller that he/she will attempt to get you on the phone. Short hold times equals happy customers.
What Are People Saying About This Answering Service?
Just like going to a new restaurant, you’ll want to look up reviews of the answering service before you make any decisions. If reviews are generally positive about the answering service you are choosing, then that is good news! But, you’ll want to make sure that these reviews are current, as there are services that collect reviews for companies, and they may have collected a lot of reviews at a point in time when the service was good, but recently the service has not been up to the same standard. Be wary of the companies without recent reviews! Best case scenario: someone reviewed the company in the last 2-3 months saying positive things!
What To Look For In the Reviews:
You’ll want to make sure that customers of the answering service mention a few things in their review of the service. You’ll want to make sure:
- The answering service provides everything they advertise.
- The bilingual operators (if any) are fluent in Spanish.
- The customer intake is performed properly.
- Spelling is always correct in messages.
- Pickup times are fast and hold times are minimal.
- Customer service is efficient and responsive.
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