6 Simple Ways to Use an Answering Service for Customer Retention

Businesses use answering services for different reasons. Some may use them for basic message taking, while others may use them to field overflow calls when they’re expecting a large volume. However you decide to use an answering service, the main goal is to capture and retain customers to ultimately help grow your business. If you’re not taking advantage of an answering service to offer your customers 24/7 live support, you’re missing out on an inexpensive and effective way to step up your customer service. Of the many ways answering services help businesses, let’s look at the top 6 ways live customer service can help you connect, engage, and grow your business.

#1. Provide 24/7 customer service

Think people only connect with companies from 9-5? With most businesses only available by phone from Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, offering live customer support after hours is a natural place to help differentiate yourself from your competition. Open up your support channels to not only phone calls, but emails, live chat and social media as well. If you run a small company and can’t answer phones all the time, outsourcing calls to a 24/7 answering service is a cost-effective way to keep  your communication channel open around the clock. If your customers are upset and try reaching you after hours, they’re only going to become more upset when they are forced to leave a voicemail. Even if your answering service isn’t able to solve the issue right then and there, giving your customers a live voice to talk to is better than no voice at all.

Pro tip: If your support reps are friendly and upbeat, are knowledgeable about the product or service and can resolve the issue during that first interaction, your customers are going to be delighted. After a positive experience with your support team, they won’t be as hesitant to call when they need help. They may even leave a positive review!

#2. Send out follow up emails after an operator interaction

Answering services give you the opportunity to let your customers interact directly with a brand representative. Unlike voicemail which is a one way communication system, live interaction is a two-way street. To further the engagement post phone-call, keep the interaction alive by emailing callers immediately after a phone call asking for feedback. How did we do? Did we answer your question? How would you rate the operator?

Whether you’re asking for feedback or just simply checking in, your customers will appreciate you taking the initiative and reaching out to them. Many people will let things slide until they eventually get so fed up that they quit. If you’re actively reaching out to them, they will feel more comfortable responding and asking for help. The sooner you can solve their issue, the happier they’ll be and the more inclined they will be to stay a customer.

Depending on what you are looking to accomplish, you may have to shop around. Some answering services are able to send out emails using your own software systems and workflow, and other call center type services can send out survey emails after each phone call made to your business. In addition, not all answering services have the capability to handle live chat and email support, so make sure you do your research beforehand.

#3. Customize a tier 1 help desk

Can your answering service do everything you can? Probably not, but they can usually do a lot more than just take down messages and transfer calls. People expect brands to be available when they need them, and sometimes just taking a message isn’t going to cut it. A good way to maximize customer retention is to use your answering service as a tier 1 help desk. Whether you run an HVAC company, a computer software company, or any other type of business where you’re bound to get calls asking why something isn’t working, setting up specific protocols for those scenarios allows your virtual receptionists to help your callers better. Some examples of questions based on industries include:


  • Have the batteries in your thermostat been changed recently?
  • Has the filter been cleaned within the last several months?
  • Is your unit blowing hot or cold air?

Computer software:

  • Is your system able to turn on?
  • When you restart the system, does the issue go away?
  • Are you able to access the internet?


  • Does your vehicle turn on?
  • When it turns on, do any lights show up?
  • Is it puttering, or making any strange noises?


  • Is your machine able to turn on?
  • Is it able to run on it’s own?
  • After restarting the machine, is the issue persisting?
  • Are you receiving error codes? If so, what are they?

While these are only a few examples, most answering services allow you to customize your script so that your agents are able to get closer to the root of the problem. This method is much more effective than having the operators just take basic messages and having your team follow up, especially if they are able to resolve the issue while on the phone. While it may make your calls last longer, it will definitely help cut down on the workload of your own staff as they won’t have to spend as much time calling people back. If your staff do have to call customers back, they will be able to prioritize who needs a call back first depending on the information gathered by your answering service.

#4. Set up emergency dispatching

Monitoring your calls is one thing, acting on them is another. When customers reach out to you in the middle of the night, it’s usually because they’re having an emergency and are literally calling out for help. Not only do you want to give them a live voice to talk to, you also want to give them assurance that someone can help them ASAP. Whether you run a medical practice, an HVAC company, or a tow truck company, setting up an emergency dispatching protocol with your answering service is another great way to ensure customer retention.

If your customers can’t get a hold of anyone when they need it most, they’re going to look for a company that is available, which is not something you want. Some tips for setting up your on-call schedule with your answering service include:

  • Keep it updated in advance
  • Make sure all of the contact information is up to date
  • Have a back up protocol in place in the event your on-call personnel can’t be reached
  • Set up expiration alerts so you are reminded when to update your schedule

#5. Have your answering service schedule appointments

For businesses that rely on appointments, you’ll definitely want to recruit your answering service to help schedule. If your customers or patients know that they’re calling your answering service, they’re going to be less inclined to reach out if they know they aren’t able to schedule with them. Even if they are unaware they’re speaking with your service, they’ll think it’s awfully fishy that they have to wait for a call back in order to schedule.

If this is the case, your customers may be more inclined to look elsewhere for business, possibly at another company who may be able to help them the first time they call instead of always having to wait for a call back. Instead of flushing business away, see if your answering service can accommodate your scheduling needs. They may be able to schedule right on your website, using their own calendar, or they may be able to integrate with a web-based software like Google Calendar.

#6. Set up order processing

For many eCommerce and retail companies, order processing is your bread and butter. Instead of letting business go stale, have your answering service help customers place orders, answer product questions and process returns if necessary. While your service is busy bringing in the dough, you can focus on other things, like updating your product line with even more items that your customers love! If you want to make sure both your in-office staff and your answering service are handling orders correctly, feel free to download and print out our order evaluation form to hang in your office.

Pro tip: If you are having your answering service process orders and take payments from your customers, you’ll want to make sure they are PCI compliant to ensure your customer’s private information stays secured. 



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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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