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What is a telephone answering service?

What is a Telephone Answering Service?

Answer4u Explains What a Telephone Answering Service Is and What It Isn’t

A Telephone Answering Service is an outsourced business provider of specialist operatives who answer calls on your company’s behalf. Whenever someone calls your business telephone number, they can take messages and undertake specific key business processes in real time. This saves your business time and money and ensures you are always available to your client base, an increasingly important feature of all UK businesses today.

It can get pretty confusing with the amount of industry terms what exactly an answering services provider is. The call handling services offered can vary from company to company. It can be difficult to understand what the difference is between a call centre and a telephone answering service. Here we’ll look into what each actually means.

Call Answering Service vs. Call Centre

Call centres are usually associated with ‘cold-calling’ or various types of outbound marketing and customer services calls. Answering services support callers who are contacting your business directly via an inbound call.

Whilst an answering service will operate in call centre environments, their primary functions are very different. A call centre agent typically has strong sales skills, aimed to overcome the adverse reaction to ‘cold-calling’, whereas a telephone answering service agent will typically have stronger soft skills and customer service skills, focussing on resolving the callers query.

Why do you need an Answering Service?

Why Do You Need A Telephone Answering Service
Outsourcing to a Telephone Answering Service

An answering service is a cost-effective way of managing your daily customer interactions. By outsourcing, you can avoid hiring new staff to handle calls or free up time for existing staff to work on other value-adding activities. And unlike an employee, if you don’t use your answering service, you don’t pay for any call handling. This means you can easily respond to an influx of calls, without straining your employees, and you don’t have to worry about bored employees when calls are low.

Outsourcing to an answering service allows you to spend more time on other key areas of your business and gives you peace of mind that the phone calls to your business phone number are being handled at all times, in a professional and approved way.

Answering services can operate outside of your office hours, making sure every call is answered even when you have closed for the day. So, when you return to the office you can have full confidence in knowing that all your business enquiries have been dealt with in a professional manner.

Benefits of using a Telephone Answering Service

An answering service can instantly respond to peaks in demand. So if you are running a specific campaign, have seasonal services or products, or you have members of your team on holiday, your answering service can step in with no notice and provide a seamless extension of your business.

Answer4u offer competitive rates on all levels of call answering with a full suite of experienced and trained operatives based in our Nottingham offices. With skills gained from working on many accounts, our operatives can deal with any type of enquiry or business process in a professional manner. Our trained agents and the cutting edge technology which supports them ensures the highest levels of customer service for all our clients.

Types of Answering Services

Answering services can be all-encompassing or very specific to what you really need. There are various options for what your business may feel is necessary, so here are a few options that could suit your company.

Virtual Receptionist Service

A virtual receptionist is the first point of call for any customers calling your company. They’ll get all the information from the caller and deal with it according to your specific instructions. Whether that be passing on that information on to yourselves or forwarding the call to the required person.

Payment Processing and Order Taking

Simple or complex order taking and processing the payments for services of products using a payment system process inline with your business. All done securely and as quick as possible.

Customer Service Operative

There to support your customers with any necessary information that they might need 24 hours a day. Working with you to be consistent with your company’s approach and policy, creating a script that fits with your tone of voice.

Emergency Calls

These can come at any time, so it’s vital that you are ready and prepared. Having an outsourced answering service support team can ensure that you are always ready in times of disaster and emergency.

What to look for when you are sourcing a Telephone Answering Service

The provider handles all their own calls

Make sure your provider isn’t diverting some or all calls to other companies. This can dramatically reduce the quality and accuracy of the service and can escalate costs. Some providers don’t have 24/7 capabilities and may outsource out of hours calls themselves.

Provider has the ability to scale up

Not just in numbers of available agents, but in the type of calls they can handle and process. You may wish to start with a more basic message taking service at the beginning of a relationship, over time as the relationship develops, opportunities and efficiencies to increase your partner’s scope of responsibility may become evident. Make sure that your chosen provider has the ability to do that in the future.

Pricing model

Many different pricing models exist in the industry and some can be confusing and costly if not appreciated up front. One frequent ‘surprise’ can come from a model that charges by agent time but in full minute increments. That may mean paying the same amount for a call lasting 1 minute and 1 second and a call that lasts 2 minutes. If you are sending the provider hundreds, or even thousands of calls this can be an excessive ‘overcharge’.

Answer4u can design and execute completely flexible telephone answering services to UK based businesses large and small. With a range of fixed plan and bespoke answering service solutions, it’s worth getting in contact to discuss your pain points and how we can find a way to support and add value to your operations.


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