Almost every company outsourcing to a live answering service uses some form of on-call dispatching for their after hours or business hours calls that require immediate attention. And why not! Businesses don’t want to drop the ball on potential sales, and customers with urgent requests don’t want to be left waiting until the next business day to be heard. Letting a virtual receptionist give you a buzz to pass important messages along or transfer callers is a great way to harness the power of an answering service. This leaves customers wondering, “If it’s one of the best tools an answering service can offer, is there a way we can get more out of it, and how should we structure our on-call?”
We are an answering service, so naturally, we have your answers! We looked at hundreds of accounts who use on-call dispatching as part of their script, compared it against any customer service issues for each client related to on-call, and found 6 similarities among the best performing campaigns.
Just like you wouldn’t let your on-call schedule go outdated in your own office, you shouldn’t let your on-call schedule expire with your answering service either. In order to maintain a successful outsourcing experience, you have to make sure you are always on the same page as your service. That means if something changes in your office, your answering service should be notified of the change as well. If you don’t, your answering service will wind up making errors that could cost you business.
Whenever our operators encounter a problem with a script, they always log the error for our support team to look into. Our support team then starts a case with the client to alert them of the error so that we can try to come to a resolution. Once our team alerts you of an error, the best thing to do is to respond with an answer, and to do so quickly. The quicker we can get the issue resolved, the quicker your customers can continue to receive the best service possible. Some examples of the most common on-call errors we come across include:
When creating your on-call schedule in SAS’s portal, the system will require you to select a start/stop time for your on-call rotation. Essentially, this will dictate when your schedule will start and when it will change over to the next person. No matter what time you select, the start/stop time frame runs for a full 24 hours. So, if you select 8am, your schedule will start at 8am, and end at 8am the following day.
If you have the same person on-call all week, the schedule won’t technically “end” but it allows the system to know when one day has ended and another begins. If you have multiple shifts throughout a 24 hour period, you can create a custom time frame. The time frame will still run for 24 hours, but the custom setting will allow you to add multiple different time slots within the 24 hour period. For example, you could have one employee on-call from 8am-2pm, another employee on-call from 2pm-10pm, and another employees on-call from 10pm-8am the following morning. As long as you complete a 24 time frame, you can add as many time slots as you want.
Not to be confused with an on-call update, a status update is a change you can make within your SAS portal that allows you to provide temporary instructions for the operators. The temporary instructions don’t actually change your call handling, they just add a simple note for the agents. After your set time frame for the status update has expired, the instructions automatically get removed from your script.
A status update is great to use when there are last minute changes and customer service isn’t able to make the update in the time that you need it to go into effect, or you’re on the go and can’t reach out. However, it is not error-proof, and should only be used as a last ditch effort when you need an immediate change. Otherwise, we always recommend updating your actual script or on-call schedule to guarantee your updates are followed.
Since each customer interaction is different, you probably want to handle different situations in different ways. For example, if a potential customer calls who is interested in your service, you may want those calls warm transferred to your sales team to close the deal. However, if an existing customer calls with an issue that isn’t urgent, you may want to cold transfer them to your support team. If no one is available, they can leave a message for a return call. If you’re not sure what the difference is between a warm and a cold transfer, don’t worry! We broke them down for you below:
If you’re not comfortable making your on-call changes yourself, our support team would be more than happy to do it for you! However, you should always send updates prior to when you actually need them done, so that our team has ample time to complete them, review them, and get them back to you.
When our team is forced to make updates in a pinch, there are more chances for errors. Additionally, if multiple clients are requesting changes at the exact same time, your updates may fall into a queue which prolongs the time it takes to get them done. So, if you need us to make updates, make sure you are sending them to us at least 2 days in advance to guarantee they are done in a timely fashion, and done right.