Halloween may be over, but the spook-tivities still live on in the answering service world. While answering services are great at helping businesses handle customer communication, if services aren’t properly tuned, there are times when they can do more harm than good. Since Halloween isn’t over until we say it is, we created a list of the 5 scariest mistakes your answering service can do, and how they can be resolved, or better yet avoided.
If your answering service is handling on-call communications, it’s super important they get it nailed down. Otherwise, the wrong staff member could be called, or worse, no one could be called at all! For businesses like medical practices, HVAC companies and law firms, missing calls after hours could be detrimental to your business as potential new leads fly out the window.
How to avoid it: Keeping your on-call updated in advance is a good way to make sure the operators are calling out to the correct person at all times. In addition, the simpler the on-call schedule, the less room there is for error. Having an overly complicated procedure may work internally at your office, but it could be a recipe for disaster for an answering service.
Pro tip: Place a couple test calls before forwarding to your service for the evening just to make sure they’re following the correct protocol. It will be more difficult to make changes at 2 o’clock in the morning than it would be before you close up shop for the day.
If your answering service operators don’t know who you are, it could make for a very sketchy phone call. Imagine you have your lines forwarded to your answering service, and a potential customer calls in with questions. If the call center agent can’t even answer basic questions like who the primary doctor at the practice is or who the owner of the company is, at best the caller will be left confused. At worst, the caller is going to hang up and call someone else. Congratulations, you just lost a customer.
How to avoid it: Adding customized frequently asked questions to your account is a great way to help the operators become more familiar with your business and answer basic questions. Simply adding a section that includes key contacts within your company could be what helps drive a sale. The more questions your operators can answer, the more likely you are to capture more leads!
Often times, we get requests for operators to open phone calls with elaborate and tongue twisting greetings, and we always advise against it. While operators are capable of saying anything, there’s a good chance they’re not just answering for your business. Adding difficult greetings makes each call a crapshoot, which could make your business sound pretty unprofessional.
How to avoid it: To avoid this jumbled mess, we suggest adding a custom recorded greeting up front (if your service offers that kind of feature) and keeping the live greeting short and sweet. They say the first impression is the last impression, so make your first impression count!
Just like people in your own office, operators can have crummy days. Sometimes, the crummyness comes off as sounding flat. Other times, there may be an operator that is just downright dreadful. While there are many reasons that could play into why an operator is acting rude, it shouldn’t be accepted under any circumstances. Period. Rude operators are one of the biggest reasons a potential customer could decide to look elsewhere, and in a growing competitive market, that’s the last thing you want.
How to avoid it: While all answering services should have an internal quality assurance monitoring system, they most likely can’t listen to every single call every day. Whether you are listening to calls yourself or if your customers are complaining of rude operators, reporting the interaction(s) to your answering service is a must. Some answering services even allow you to listen to calls and rate operators within an online portal, which is another helpful way to report unsatisfactory interactions.
In the answering service industry, hold times are unavoidable 100% of the the time. However, the amount of time callers are left waiting on hold is what can set one answering service apart from another. If every time you or your customers called into your answering service and were put on hold, you’d probably end up losing your wits as well as some business.
How to avoid it: Answering services should monitor their queue time on an hourly and daily basis so they can keep on top of any spikes that may arise. While it’s impossible to plan for unexpected spikes in volume, comparing current trends to previous trends is a great way to make sure they’re staffed accordingly. For example, if last year your answering service had a large spike in volume on a particular day or week, they can use that information to plan accordingly this year.
Pro tip: Another way your answering service can help combat hold times is by adding custom hold greetings to the line that would play if there are holds. For example, it could say “Thank you for calling ABC Plumbing, we are experiencing higher than normal call volume at the moment but we will be with your shortly.” While it may not stop callers from hanging up, it at least acts as a nice buffer.