Five Best Practices to Reduce Answering Service Call Times
Answering services offer a lot of benefits to any business, but they’re certainly not all created equally. When you’re shopping around for a great answering service, you want to find a provider that can give you top quality support, and the best price equivalent to the services that you’re receiving.
To get the best answering service price, you need to understand the pricing model that most answering services utilize. They prefer to work on a per-minute billing model in most cases, and will invoice customers under this model rather than on a per-call basis. However, this leads to the same logical concerns that employers have when hiring hourly employees: won’t the workers extend the time needed to complete a given task in order to charge more?
In reality, you have a lot of control in this industry, and can take steps to ensure that call times stay as short as possible. When implemented, these five best practices will help keep call times, and the resultant bills, nice and low.
- KISS Those Bills Away
Anyone who has been in business a while has seen the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) acronym. The KISS principle is very valuable when managing your answering service. Make your procedures simple to follow, and provide a detailed script to the service to help keep all agents on track. Remember that there is a difference between an answering service and a complete customer support team. Keep your script simple and straight forward and your answering service should be able to fulfill their function with very short call times. Focus is also important in the script. Provide lots of cues for answering service agents to refer callers to the appropriate parties if handling a given request is beyond the scope of their service.
- Outline All Call Types
You should actually provide a script for each type of call you expect your answering service to have to field. Detail what types of calls they will be receiving, and which script to follow in a given situation. Some additional training to prepare agents for dealing with situations that don’t fall within the confines of a given script is also important, as it is impossible to predict every call the team will get.
- Try to Limit Updates
Imagine that a call service is just like an in-house employee. It is unlikely that you would make weekly changes to your internal protocols and procedures and have to spend time training employees weekly on the new models you want implemented. However, some companies still try to do this with their answering services. If you’re making constant changes, you can’t expect top tier service. Don’t feel handcuffed by this, and certainly make changes when needed, but focus on need. Change for the sake of change will only slow down your call times as agents adapt to new scripts or procedures.
- Limit the Tasks for the Answering Service
Answering services are not customer support staff, sales professionals, or personal assistants. The more responsibilities you attempt to pile on the answering service, the more your call times are going to escalate. Complicated tasks need to be sourced to a proper call center, not a straightforward answering service. Limit your expectations to message taking and relaying, and a few more basic tasks that might branch off this basic concept.
- Do Not Expect Sales Performance From Answering Services.
This point is so important it deserves singling out from the last. An answering service is not trained to be a sales team, nor should you expect it to be. Your sales agents or other professionals need to be responsible for sales, and expecting results in this category from your answering service is a recipe for disappointment. Answering services can be an incredible support tool, but they exist to facilitate contact between sales professionals and potential or existing clients, not to close sales themselves.
Implementing these best practices is going to help your company make the most out of an answering service. It will ensure that call times stay low while maximizing the benefits that can be derived from this type of service. On top of that, existing and future customers will appreciate speaking to a real person instead of constantly being relayed to voicemail, which certainly helps create an overall favourable impression of your company.