If you’re experiencing rapid growth in call volume, it may be time to think about a telephone answering service. Choosing a provider that’s best for your business isn’t as easy as you might think. There are many major variables to consider before selecting a provider.
Why is Your Choice in a Telephone Answering Service Provider So Important?
Telephone answering service providers offer specialty services in different industries and niches. Some focus on customer service and sales while other, more advanced firms, provide AI and automation solutions.
Before making your decision, it’s important to evaluate your business and your needs. Many providers offer the services you’re looking for, but few understand your business area well enough to have the required training and certifications to do it effectively.
You want the best for your business and your customers, and the choice you make in your answering service provider may have a significant impact on your bottom line. The good news is that by asking the right questions, you have the ability to assure you’re selecting an answering service that provides the positive change you seek.
Considerations for Choosing a Telephone Answering Service
Call centers are not always the appropriate choice for every business. But with a little bit of research, you can determine your need and choose a provider that saves you time and money.
1. Inbound vs. Outbound
If you’re jumping into the idea of outsourcing to a contact center, you may not be aware of some of the more important industry terms and how they relate to your business.
Inbound and Outbound are the primary services a contact center provides. If you’re looking for answering services, focus your search on Inbound as it encompasses incoming calls to your business. Most Inbound providers offer appointment management, overflow/after-hours, and virtual receptionists. Those seeking marketing and other outreach services should enlist the help of an Outbound offering.
2. Security Badging and Certifications
Security is a major consideration in any new changes you make to your business. Reputable contact centers do their part to secure certifications and badging to prove their security measures. In your search, look for security badging such as AICPA SOC2 and SOC3, and PCI.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a national organization of Certified Public Accountants. The entity is the governing body of System and Organization control certifications.
Developed by the AICPA, the System and Organization Controls (SOC 2) covers the principles of privacy, security, confidentiality, availability, and processing integrity held by an institution. SOC 2 reports are unique to each individual organization as each entity designs its own set of controls to comply with the principles. The ultimate goal for service organizations is to help them build trust and confidence in their systems as well as their consumers.
Also developed by the AICPA, the System and Organization Controls (SOC 3) are reports design to meet the needs of users who need assurance about the controls within an organization. These controls include security, availability, processing integrity confidentiality, or privacy.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards regarding credit card transactions. They ensure all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit card information maintain a secure environment at every level or stage of the process.
Security doesn’t end with call center standards. Seek out information or badging for credit card transactions, virus protection, or even HIPAA, depending on the services provided.
3. Available Services
It’s important to identify exactly what you’re looking for in a telephone answering service provider. Consider the type of business you are along with common customer needs. Some contact centers may provide beneficial services you didn’t originally consider.
4. Integration with Your Systems
Medium to larger-scale businesses often already have their own software or in-house call center set up before reaching out to a major provider. If you’re working with your own systems, it’s imperative that the telephone answering service you choose is capable of integrating with your infrastructure.
5. Previous Client Reviews
You are the customer in this scenario. When you’re looking for the best options for your needs, always consider looking at reviews.
Business owners are not known to be shy when it comes to the experience they’ve had with others. Scan through the reviews and take note of the friendliness of agents, the quality of customer service, and any recurring problems.
Also, check if the business responded to any of the reviews, positive or negative, and analyze their response. The way they treat you is the same way they’ll treat your customers.
6. Gauge Your Business Necessity
Do you own a small business or a large enterprise? Do you currently have your own in-house call center? Why do you believe a call center provides a major benefit to you?
Small businesses especially should consider their need for a 24/7 answering service. Not all providers offer services tailored to small business budgets. If you’re a small business owner experiencing rapid growth, you need a provider that scales their services to your needs.
7. Understand Your Scaling Needs
An important factor in any business partnership is scalability. Can your new partner keep up with your growth? Can they ramp up or slow down their services depending on your seasonal needs?
Not all answering service providers offer significant scalability. You need someone who’s prepared to grow with you and adapt their processes to the changing needs of your business.
8. Outage Preparation
Technology isn’t always reliable, especially during inclement weather. Choose a service provider with a plan of action for any potential outage.
A contact center with backup generators that continue taking your calls before, during, and after an unexpected event is vital to your customers. Additionally, a contact center who securely backs up customer information to the cloud is a top candidate for any business for peace of mind alone.
9. Multilingual Services
Not all customers are the same. Treating every customer like they’re the center of your universe in every interaction is how one delivers world-class customer service. It starts by providing a bilingual or multilingual agent to assist them.
A high-quality contact center that emphasizes customer service provides multilingual services. Providing non-English speakers often includes higher costs, but customer smiles are well worth the investment.
10. Services for Individuals with Disabilities
ADA Compliance is an area no business can afford to skip. Not only is it simply a good business practice, but it’s also required that you provide solutions to customers with disabilities.
When choosing a telephone answering service provider, look for those who make customers with disabilities a priority. You want agents who have extensive training on appropriate terminology and on systems such as teletypewriters and IP relays.
Look for those that go above and beyond as well, providing video chats to persons who use ASL with highly skilled ASL agents.
Choose AnswerNet Today
Why hassle with other telephone answering service providers when AnswerNet answers the call to all these considerations?
If you’re reaching out to an answering service provider for the very first time, we’ll work with you to discover your business needs.
AnswerNet is a highly secure and certified provider with a plethora of services that scale to your needs. Our technology seamlessly integrates with yours, and we aim to scale and grow with you. Additionally, all our contact centers are well-equipped for outages; we stay connected 24/7/365 so you don’t have to.
If you want that kind of peace of mind in an answering service, look no further than AnswerNet.
Contact us today and let’s discuss your needs.