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11thDec2015

How to Choose an Answering Service for Your Small Business

How to Choose an Answering Service for Your Small Business

Are you a small business owner that realizes the value an answering service can bring to your company, but are overwhelmed with selecting the best team to handle your calls? With over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications’ industry, our virtual receptionists here in Orlando, Florida want to help you navigate through the call center options available to you. Selecting the best answering service for small business call handling can make or break your company’s growth. Follow these 10 easy steps to picking the most qualified and appropriate answering service that is right for you.  

How to choose the right answering service for your small business:    

1. Does the answering service offer 24 hour services?

Normal business hours don’t cut it anymore in this modern day and age. If you are going to hire an answering service for your small business, a must-have feature is 24-hour call handling; 7 days a week.

Make sure any virtual receptionists you are vetting are able to take a call any time of day from you, your staff and your calling customers.  

2. What are the customization capabilities of the call center?

No business fits into a perfect cookie cutter answering service package. As a business owner, you need to outsource your business calls to a team that has the capabilities to fully customize your account.

Some customizations that the best answering services offer are:

  • Custom Greeting Phrases
  • Custom Call Handling Procedures
  • Custom On-Call and Patching Protocols
  • Custom Answers to FAQ’s

3. Can you test out their virtual receptionists?

An answering service for small business that has nothing to hide can provide you with a current customer’s line so you can call in and test their call handling skills. You wouldn’t buy a car before testing it out, we believe you shouldn’t buy telephone support without doing your due diligence. 

4. What is the business call center’s stance on customer service?

When you hire virtual receptionists to act as an extension of your office, you need to make sure that their company culture and customer service matches or exceeds your expectations. During a free initial consultation, ask the account specialist some hypothetical questions of how they would handle specific situations. You can get a clear understanding of the answering service’s training guidelines and customer service styles.

5. How do the receptionists handle and forward telephone messages?

You can never ask too many questions of your answering service team; they exist solely to make your business telecommunications run without a hitch.

Key questions to ask are:

  • • How will my virtual receptionist answer my calls?
  • • What information can be taken down in message form?
  • • How will I receive my business call messages?
  • • When will my messages and calls be forwarded to me?

6. What are the average hold times and downtimes of the call center?

This question will make low quality answering services sweat and high quality answering services beam with pride. For instance, our state of the art call center has the unique ability to inform our customers that we have never experienced downtime or service interruption.

The way our answering service can ensure constant and reliable telephone handling is by putting safeguards into place that protect our customers’ phone lines. We have generators and even backup generators to make certain that your business line never goes down.

7. Has the answering service earned awards and accolades?

The telecommunications industry offers globally based answering service contests and mystery call competitions annually. When you are shopping around, be sure to ask what awards the call center and virtual receptionist teams have received. This can give you an idea of the type of service they provide and what they can bring to your business.   

8. What are the contract and cancellation policies?

This fine-print question can save future headaches and hassles from forming. Some answering services offer annual contracts and long term commitments while others, like A Courteous Communications, offer month-to-month contracts.

Having the ability to cancel at any point gives you the freedom and the security to know that if you are receiving inadequate service, you can reduce your long term risk and have the power to discontinue services risk-free.

9. How long has the call center been in business?

You may not know this, but many call centers and answering services have high turnover rates and shut down after only months of services. Small answering services get bought out by large investment companies and flyby night virtual receptionists take your money and close up shop the very next day.

Examine the length of the business’s lifetime and learn that call centers that have been in business for decades have the wherewithal to meet your business’s high standards of vendor services.

Just to brag, a little, and give you an example of lasting power, our doors have been open to businesses since 1986.  

10. What in-house departments are available to you?

A professional answering service will have more than just a telephone in their in-house arsenal. Make sure your new answering service has separate and distinct departments that are available to you, your staff and your calling customers. Ask about the following in-house department sizes:

  • • Customer Service
  • • Billing and Account Services
  • • Tech Support Services
  • • Customization and Programming Services

Happy Small Business Answering Service Shopping!

We hope that this article helps you understand the important factors in choosing an answering service for small business. If you are hunting and shopping but are not finding a service that complies with all 10 of our tips, call our professionals today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist about our current availability and rates.

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