Diary of an Agent | Behind the Scenes of a Business Telephone Answering Service
Ever wonder about the inner workings of a 24 hour business telephone answering service?
When thinking of a business telephone answering service that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, what comes to mind? Do you picture a room full of talking operators halfway around the world talking into their headsets in a fast-paced loud tempo? Most people do, but I want to bring you along with me on my day-to-day atmosphere at A Courteous Communications business answering service in Orlando, Florida.
First thing’s first, I park in my usual spot in our Downtown Orlando location off of Robinson Street; right across from the 7Eleven were I get my afternoon slushy and late night snack fixes. All of the virtual receptionists and our high tech equipment are guarded by a confidential password protected entrance. I press the magic numbers to open the door and quickly find my way to the operators’ break room where I unpack my lunch and personal items into my very own locker.
I always show up fifteen minutes early to work so that I can enjoy a cup of coffee and check my personal email before starting my shift. When the clock strikes my working hour, I am sitting at my workstation in front of my computer with my headphone set plugged in and ready to receive incoming telephone calls.
Mark, another virtual receptionist, is working in the cubicle next to me and I give him a nod and a friendly smile hello. While working our customers’ telephone business lines, we are not permitted to talk with one another. But then again, even if we were, who would have the time for a ‘chat’ in our line of work?
Thanks to the impeccable reputation and tenure of A Courteous Communications telephone answering service, we answer millions upon millions of telephone calls each year. When I sit down to start the first four hours of my shift as a telephone agent, my lines never stop and when they do, I only have a minute before the next caller comes in, leaving no idle time. I like it that way though. My work days fly by because of the constant ringing telephones and constant work flow.
Like any receptionist, I become familiar with the types of calls our business customers receive. I even become acquainted with specific frequent callers and they know me on a first name basis. I presume that some of our clients’ customers don’t even know that I am sitting outside of the office I am answering for, and am in another location entirely. That is part of my job as a virtual receptionist as well. Letting the callers feel like I am a part of the office’s team and that I can help that just as an internal receptionist would be able to.
Here at A Courteous Communication telephone answering service, we are not allowed to ever say to a caller, “we are just the telephone answering service.” We are trained to say, “We are the telephone answering service.” Our roles are vital to our customers we answer for and we never look down on the telephone answering and telephone messaging services. Our goal is not to pass a problem along with the message. Our goal is to help seek a solution while passing along the message to our customers from their customers.
One feature that we added years ago is our appointment setting services. Not only can we answer your business telephone lines, we can also schedule your appointments, visits and meetings according to your calendar, availability and custom requests. When a call comes in on my line, I am able to see the office’s calendar, specific instructions and dispatch contact telephone numbers.
If my caller wants to schedule an appointment, I simply bring up the calendar, offer the available dates and secure the best time for the caller. The business owner will now see my new appointment pop up on our shared calendar and I will even text them a notification that I have placed a new appointment on their books so they have real time data at all times.
Another role I have in the company on top of being a virtual office receptionist is being responsible for sitting in the hot seat, as it is called, or a/k/a the dispatching chair. When I am dispatching calls, I am mainly dealing with service professionals, on-call maintenance and emergency medical staff. It is my job to make sure that each caller’s request is not only received by the on-call personnel, but I must follow up and make sure that the service was dispatched and/or completed. Only telephone agents with years of experience at A Courteous Communications can covet such a role. It is highly respected and if you’re in the hot seat, you are talented, trustworthy and dependable. It’s an honor in my eyes.
After four straight hours of answering business telephone lines, I notify my supervisor that I will be taking my lunch break. If there are any emergencies, she’ll know where to find me. I surf the internet while chowing down. Another company no-no is having your cell phone out and distracting you in the telephone agent room during your shift. Texting or browsing the internet will get you written up by the staff supervisor real quick. I completely understand that company policy though. I am a master multi-tasker and even I couldn’t give my undivided attention to my callers if I was permitted to use my mobile phone while at my workstation.
It’s back to work after lunching with some other telephone operators and I only have four more hours to go and I know it will go quickly; I barely blinked during the morning shift and it was over.
When I answer my last ringing business telephone line, I go over my daily numbers. How many calls did I take that day? What was the average telephone call duration? I like to see these figures as I feel it makes me better at my job and I constantly strive to take more calls with less duration of each call, if possible. This goal allows me to constantly try to help more and more people in less amount of time. Because as the saying goes, time is money, honey!
I hope to have educated you about the modern business telephone answering service call center. Virtual receptionists are real people that sometimes, since we are only “seen” through the telephone, can appear to be fake – out of sight out of mind. But we most certainly are just like you. Professionals that take our jobs seriously, who have lunch breaks, supervisors and yes, we talk around the water cooler with our co-workers about the latest and greatest office gossip as well.
Next time you make a call to a business or office, try and keep me in mind and treat the staff answering the telephone lines with kindness and respect. We have feelings too and as you can see, our jobs are the normal 9 to 5’er positions just like you, we just happen to wear many hats when working for a business telephone answering service. Happy Calling, Folks!