Telephone Answering Service The Ultimate Guide
What is a telephone answering service?
Well this is a very easy question to answer. Very simply, it’s a service where a real person answers calls. Typically this is used to answer incoming calls that the service providers client, cannot or doesn’t want, to answer. It’s a call centre for the good of the people, not the other way around like those pesky loft insulation people.
Who needs this service?
Anybody in business that has a need for their calls to be answered. This could be a solo self employed person or any type of business that wants telephone cover to make sure all calls are answered.
For example, if ‘you’ used the service and you were in a meeting, up a ladder, driving, walking the dogs, doing anything where by you couldn’t answer an incoming call from what could potentially be a lucrative client/customer, the call is diverted to the telephone answering service and it will be answered, in your business name.
A message will be taken and then sent to you via Text and Email, so that you can call them back or deal with their enquiry when you are able.
What’s the process?
Again, it’s such a simple concept and one that more and more people are learning about and seeking out as it adds such huge value for little cost.
The service provider gives a unique divert number to the client. So in our example, with you as our client, we would provide you with a number. This number is only for you.
You would divert your calls to us. This can be done in a variety of ways. Such as all calls, calls when unanswered, when engaged and with VOIP telephone systems you can have it ring you and us at the same time.
For the telephone answering service, this is simple message taking and simple questions answered, for a more involved service, a virtual assistant is what you would need.
When the caller rings and there is no answer from you, it will automatically divert to the service provider (us) to answer the call. It will be answered in your business name, a message taken with their full details, once the call has ended this is sent to you via text and email for you to deal with when you are able.
How does it work on a technical level?
Your super unique divert number is attached to your account with us. When that number is called (by you diverting your phones to it), our bespoke call handling system recognises your divert number is ringing and presents the call to us with your business name.
We then answer that call on our cloud based handling system as if we were sat right in your office. Whilst on the call we can take notes and any information the caller provides.
Once the call is over, the system communicates with an email program and a text program that simultaneously sends out the message to you.
That message is then saved in a secure database for an appropriate amount of time should you need to revisit it. It’s also used to generate end of day reports with all your messages that are sent to you each evening.
Cost of a Telephone Answering Service
This can vary and associated hidden costs can be vast, there are also some ‘technicalities’ that we’ll cover here, so read on to find out what these are but please do your research into exactly what you’re getting.
For example, our service is based on a simple flat monthly £20 fee, which includes 10 messages. Every time we pass on a message (not per call) this is added to your account, the first 10 messages are included. If you have 10 or less messages every month, you would not pay a penny over £20.
Once you move over 10 messages, each additional message is discounted and the more we take for you, the more discount we apply. At the end of the month we put you in the band that maximises your discount, so you will always pay as little as possible with us.
Our full pricing table can be found here but please remember, unlike our competitors, we don’t ask you to pick a package each month as no 2 months are ever the same and we don’t want you losing out.
Another aspect to take note of, some services won’t charge you for sales/spam/family/staff calls, see if you can check if this is genuine. Here we never charge for those as see those as ‘internal call’ so we mark those messages and at the end of every month remove them from your total. You will often find that pay as you go services can seem quite appealing but they often miss this out and charge per call, so every time a call is answered, whether that be a silent automated call, a dropped call, any type of sales call, you may well be charged. So please be careful.
Another aspect to pricing is the fabled ‘race to the bottom’, if you’re building a brand and you are literally wanting to use this type of service to improve the customer experience for your callers, why would you pick the lowest denominator for that and potentially lose credibility you’ve built up? There are real human beings behind these businesses and you’ll find the best are almost always certainly not the cheapest.
Take a look at our benefits of a call answering service page to see the difference in using us versus a receptionist/admin assistant. Often smaller businesses can’t afford a full time staff member and emerging ones realise it’s not entirely the most efficient way to do things. That’s why we exist.
Setting yourself up as a Telephone Answering Service
This is a rewarding space to be in. You get to talk to people from all walks of life day in, day out. You get given tasks from valued clients to complete and 2 days are never the same. One day you could be managing a crisis for one client, the next helping them put a plan in place for an event they’re holding.
Calling any of our team members just a call handler, isn’t quite true, all of us have to have that edge, that something extra in order to do the things we do. It’s an old cliché but wearing many hats is the name of the game. Organising a schedule, sending out invoices, altering websites, updating and posting on social media, looking after PPC campaigns are things you may be called on to do. This is the opportunity to use all the skills you have absorbed or are interested in.
You’re in the right place as our call handling system was bespoke totally for us and new features can be added when demand requires. If this is something you want to do, we’d be more than happy to talk to you to help you on your way, check out our partnering with us page to see how we could work together.