While answering services have been around for decades, they are growing rapidly as demand for them increases in this new digital era. This is good news if you are wanting to start one or if you are looking to hire an answering service. Here we will break down all you need to know about answering services.
An answering service is a company that receives and handles calls for their clients. Answering services have agents who answer calls live using software or telephony services. These agents in an answering service are given instructions on how to handle calls specific to each client and then transfer the calls or dispatch the information to the appropriate contacts.
This type of service is used by clients that either do not have time or do not want to pay an internal employee to answer their inbound calls. Answering services are cheaper and more time efficient in answering and processing calls, therefore, this allows clients to focus on other timely tasks during their work hours.
Once the answering service has the instructions and procedures for how the client prefers the calls to be handled and processed, the answering service can begin answering calls on the clients behalf. Upon answering the call, the answering service agent will relay the message to the appropriate recipient through email, SMS, etc, or they will transfer the caller to someone in the company in which they are answering the call for.
The operations for handling calls can vary from client to client depending on their preferences. There can also be different procedures for the purpose of the call. These are all things that have to be discussed when the client hires the answering service. Though operations are different for each client, generally, answering services will:
Although the agents at the answering service are not in-house employees, the goal is to represent the client’s company well by being prepared and informed about the company. Since answering services usually work for many clients at any given time, most services will segment the calls to specific agents. This allows the agents to focus on a few of the clients at a time instead of answering calls for all of the clients. For instance, half of the agents handle the calls of the clients in the medical field and the other half handle the calls for the clients in service companies like HVAC contractors and electricians. Agents at the answering service are not expected to know and answer everything about the client or their company, but they are expected to use the scripts provided by the client to guide the calls.
Each client, upon hiring an answering service, must provide a script(s) for the agents to read off of. The script(s) provided will need to, at the least, get the basic information from the caller:
Below is an example of how a script might look.
Documentation & Relaying Information
The client will also be required to give any other resources such as important documents, forms, or instructions needed to process calls. The resources could be available dates and times for appointments, contact information, or anything else that the client and answering service deem necessary to handle the calls. There will also be instructions for how the calls need to be handled, including the steps, who the call/information goes to, and what information can be given to the caller.
It used to be that hardware or software were required for starting an answering service, however, recent innovations in the industry have led to fully cloud-based answering service solutions. Because the technology is so new in the industry, not many people/businesses are aware that it’s an option. Here are just a few things that a fully cloud-based answering service software can do:
A phone system is a must for your answering service, therefore, getting the best solution for your company’s needs is of high importance. Once your company has set up a cloud-based TAS solution your agents will be able to immediately log in from anywhere and start receiving calls. By going with a cloud-based solution you are eliminating the need for repairs to old hardware, expensive set up fees, and in-house servers.
Having a phone system like a cloud-based TAS, is going to help your company gain the data and organization tools needed in order to maximize your efficiency. This means you will have more successful calls and in return, happy customers!
Understanding the legal, financial, and technical aspect of starting an answering service doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re considering it, make sure you read our guide on how to start an answering service business.
If you are looking for cloud-based answering service software, you could request a free demo of our Fox TAS solution!