Should your answering service say they are the answering service?

Posted in Best Practices and tagged

We Are the Answering Service

Managing calls for thousands of industries and millions of scenarios is no easy task. Each small business is unique, and it would be impossible to memorize the nuances of the thousands of businesses a call center may answer for.  So when customer service agents are allowed to tell callers they are speaking with the answering service, call flow is improved, along with the caller’s experience. However, many business owners may feel their customers won’t want to deal with an answering service, creating the potential for lost revenue. And that’s not good for anyone.

If you’re outsourcing to a service, you have two choices: let the callers know they are speaking with the answering service, or don’t. We’ll dive into the pros and cons of each approach.

Don’t let callers know they’re speaking with the service.

Pros

  • They won’t hesitate to provide their information to the operator.
  • They’ll know that you are always available when they need you.
  • Having multiple people answering your line, along with 24/7 accessibility, will give your small business a big business feel.

Cons

  • They will expect their needs to be met directly. If operators can’t give them answers, they may question the reliability of your business.
  • Callers will become frustrated, and operators will have a difficult time regaining control of the call.
  • Navigating a tense interaction will increase call time, costing you and your customers more in the long run.

But I don’t want my callers to know that I have an answering service. What are my options?

There really is no ideal middle of the road alternative. However, operators can pick up your line in a number of ways that will represent your business professionally, without directly identifying themselves as the receptionist or the answering service. This combined approach should lower callers’ expectations while maintaining optimum customer service standards.

“You’ve reached the after-hours receptionist for ZapAndOutage Electric, this is Jessica. Do you need urgent service?”

  • Pro: The operator immediately triages the caller’s needs by asking if they need urgent service.
  • Con: Most people will identify “after-hours receptionist” with an answering service.

“Thank you for calling, you’ve reached the off-site receptionist for Peas in a Pod Home Care. How may I direct your call?”

  • Pro: The operator is representing your company in the capacity of receptionist.
  • Con: Even though “off-site” is stated in the greeting, the caller may still expect the operator to have advanced company knowledge.

“You’ve reached the scheduling department for Dr. Hamond Eggs, this is Hector. How may I help you today?”

  • Pro: The operator is representing your company as if he is in the office.
  • Con: Hearing “scheduling department” may give the caller the impression that the operator has access to prior appointments or scheduled services.

I still want the operators to act as my receptionist.

If maintaining the appearance of a receptionist is essential to your company culture, there are things you can do to help operators make every call a success.

  • Be sure that your account is set up with several well written FAQs.
  • Take only basic information from your callers, such as name, number, and a brief message.
  • Have a stock answer, such as, “I don’t have that information, but Barbara will explain everything to you when she gets in touch.”
  • For advanced questions, always build the option to transfer calls to you or your staff.
  • Try to cover all the bases in your script like adding paths for callers asking for specific people or having a list if employees in your FAQs. Nothing is more embarrassing than an agent being asked if Jim works there and saying they have no idea.

Working with an answering service may be a bit of an adjustment, but a confident and empowered operator will make the caller feel comfortable and set the tone for a smooth interaction. Ensuring a positive service experience is fundamental to customer retention, and making calls effortless for both the operator and the caller has an indelible impact on the future of your business.

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Specialty Answering Service is a leading call center company, helping fast-growing businesses close sales and deliver amazing live customer support 24 hours a day. SAS' friendly virtual receptionists and customized call handling create an outstanding virtual office experience. There are thousands of small businesses already using our services. Try SAS for free today.

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