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Follow These ATSI Tips When Hiring a Business Answering Service

Follow These ATSI Tips When Hiring a Business Answering Service

Are you shopping around trying to find the best answering service to handle your calling customers? Are all the answering service websites starting to look the same? We want to help narrow your search and decide on the best company to outsource your calls to.

Elite answering services adhere to strict guidelines that you can easily spot when you know what you’re looking for. Follow these tips provided by ATSI (The Association of TeleServices International) and grade each business answering service accordingly.

How to hire the right business answering service using tips from the ATSI  


Call centers and virtual receptionists that are worth testing will have the ability to give you client lines that are currently active. Here at A Courteous Communications, we have customers that participate in these demos and give their permission for you to call in on their lines to test our services.

If the answering service you are inquiring about does not give you an opportunity to test the merchandise, go to the next one. 

1. Ring Count

The first item we are going to have you look at is the ring count. When calling into the business number provided, make a note of how many rings it takes before someone answers the line. This may seem trivial to you, but it really shows if a call center is understaffed and unable to take on new clients.

To give you an idea of what is acceptable, on average, our virtual receptionists answer all calls within the first two rings.

2. Hold Time

This particular field is extremely important. You don’t want your customers being put on hold for long periods of time; it’s unacceptable and unprofessional. So before you entrust an answering service with your valuable calling customers, make sure you observe how long you are put on hold.

It’s okay to pull out the stopwatch during this portion of the mystery call. Document the hold length and ask yourself if it meets with your expectations.

3. Live Answering Phrase

A live answering phrase is simply the way the virtual receptionist answers and greets all callers. You may want to call in twice to really test the live answering phrase. When calling, make sure that the virtual receptionist’s voice is friendly and that both calls are answered with the same phrase.

Tip: A business answering service that is worthy of your business will have the ability to customize your entire caller experience. Consider it a major red flag if they are not able to do so.  

4. Overall Telephone Customer Service

This portion of the mystery call test may be the most important section to grade. Excellent customer service is vital to the success of any business. In particular, look out for the following:

  • • Virtual Receptionist’s Attitude

The last thing your business needs is a grumpy or bad-tempered receptionist answering all of your incoming calls. Make sure your call is handled with care and the upmost courteous attention. If not, drop the call then and there.

  • • Virtual Receptionist’s Manners

Just like you expect your in-house employees to conduct themselves in a professional manner, you must also seek this out in outsourced work. Grade your virtual receptionist on how well-mannered they were during your call.

  • • Virtual Receptionist’s Grammar

During the duration of your call, does the receptionist use slang language or less than eloquent phrases? You don’t want your callers to get a negative impression about the quality of your products or services. Be on the lookout for bad grammar because that is a direct reflection of your business to any calling customer.

5. Knowledgeable and Confident

Was the virtual receptionist knowledgeable about the business? Were they confident throughout the call and did they use caller control to guide you through the conversation? This is a skill that only well-trained virtual receptionists possess.

6. Voice Quality

Again, this may seem trivial, but gauging the voice quality of your virtual receptionist will help you understand so much about how the answering service operates. If the virtual receptionist was hard to hear or broken up, it is an indication that the call center is running on less than adequate equipment. If the virtual receptionist was hard to understand because English is not their native language, chances are your calls are being outsourced overseas. Based on your business’s needs, decide if the overall quality of the call meets to your standards.

7. Phone Message

Opt to leave a message with the virtual receptionist so you can understand how information is gathered from your callers. This section is pretty straightforward. Were you satisfied or dissatisfied with the disposition of the message taking service?

8. Confirmation of Caller Information

Have you ever received a message from a potential customer with the wrong contact telephone number and lost the sale? A qualified business answering service is going to confirm the caller’s name and their telephone number to ensure they received the right information. If they don’t, this is an indication that the answering service you are interviewing is not detailed-oriented.

9. Close of Call

Lastly, how was your call ended? Did you hang up with a good impression of the business you were calling? Were you confident that your message would be delivered and your call returned promptly?

10. The Final Grade

Now, go ahead and review all of your call notes. What were your overall impressions? Remember, when you outsource your phone calls you need to make sure that the answering service you are retaining can offer the quality of service your business requires. 

Try Out Our Business Answering Service!

Our business answering service adheres to all of the guidelines detailed above. We are proud to share that we have won the ATSI Award of Excellence for several years running now. Give us a call at 1-800-785-6161 and put our 30-year-old call center to the test.

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