When a client calls your office in the middle of the night seeking help, you want to be able to help them. When you’ve stepped out of the office to attend an important business meeting or have lunch, you want your clients to continue receiving service. When an advert about a product has calls flooding your company, you want the callers to receive information. However, you might not want to speak to anyone concerning business unless it is an emergency.
An answering service can satisfy your needs in all the above situations and more. With this service, you can ensure your clients receive information or the help they need when you aren’t available and contact you when it’s an emergency. This service can make it possible for you to receive callers’ messages on your cell phone regardless of where you are and what time it is. As long as you partner with the right service provider, your business will run effectively without you being present to supervise things. At Best Call Center, our answering agents provide top-notch customer service specializing in appointment scheduling, order taking, bilingual services, online services, and more. Our Portland answering services are also affordable and available 24/7.
Businesses that Can Use Answering Services
Several industries can benefit from using answering services:
- A building contractor, plumber, and any other field worker needs to know if there are any job additions or schedule changes
- A nurse or doctor works office hours but will still need to respond to emergencies occurring past office hours
- A solo entrepreneur needs a professional communications team for their virtual office
- A sales representative doesn’t want any sales leads to slip b They also don’t want interruptions when meeting with a client
- A service organization like an insurance company needs staff to deal with routine inquiries concerning coverage limits and premium deadlines
- A large corporation needs a call center to take customer product orders, provide more info about the products, or explain how they’re used
- A company that has experienced a severe power outage or snowstorm requires immediate handling of communications
All these companies and professionals can partner with an answering service provider to make the achievement of their needs easier.
When Is It Time to Partner with an Answering Service Provider?
Answering the following questions will help you determine whether you need an answering service or not:
- Does your business deal with so many customers over the phone each day?
- Does your organization handle incoming phone calls efficiently and forward messages fast?
- Does answering phone calls prevent you from attending to other critical matters?
- Are messages accumulating in your voicemail?
- Can you handle all the phone calls that come in?
Types of Answering Services
The concept behind answering services isn't new. An individual or company partners with a professional service provider to answer and screen phone calls, pass messages, and provide basic info to the callers, and perhaps also to schedule appointments, take orders, and offer product support. However, while answering services have existed for decades, their equipment and capabilities continue to evolve as technology advances, and businesses' demands change.
Answering services usually fall under one of these categories, though providers may provide services from more than one category:
- Call centers
- Live answering services
- Internet answering services
- Automated answering services
A live answering service gives callers the chance to speak to a live individual who might be capable of meeting their specific needs more effectively than automated answering services. The operator can also decide whether or not the phone call is urgent enough to send through right away. In fact, the caller often doesn't know their call is redirected to an answering agent. If you are a solo entrepreneur or telecommuter, a live answering service will give your business a professional look.
An automated answering service allows the caller to leave a voice message and obtain info based on their response to prompts. For example, they may be asked to press two if they need to know the company's hours of operation, 3 for directions, 4 for the business directory, or 5 to hear the directory listings. An automated system works perfectly with clients only looking to obtain general info and costs less compared to a live answering service. However, the system lacks the personal touch or flexibility that a live answering service provides.
Call centers offer more help than other answering services. Think of a call center as an extension of your business help desk, sales, or customer service teams. Instead of adding more employees to these teams, you can partner with a call center to address your growing demands. You’ll be flexible to contract and expand your support level depending on your company’s needs. Unlike other answering services, a call center automatically reroutes calls to your phone. As business representatives, call center agents will address the needs of all your callers.
Consideration Before Partnering With a Portland Answering Service Provider
Answering services are an effective tool that makes businesses operate smoothly, but various problems with these services occur. At times, the failure to select the right service for your needs brings about these problems. Or, the answering service cost could exceed what you had expected. These are the various factors you should consider before settling on an answering service to avoid problems:
- Advanced technology— technology that's up to date means it takes advantage of web tools and will offer you flexible ways of receiving messages. It additionally means having a disaster preparedness plan and enough backup to stay available 24/7. You could request to see a copy of the plan.
- Knowledge of the industry— understanding how the business operates is essential, especially in highly specialized fields such as medicine. Consider a service provider with several years of experience with your kind of business. Additionally, inquire how answering agents are trained to field questions and be knowledgeable.
- Service cost— the charges of an answering service provider can sway your decision to partner with them. Charges are dependent on the number of phone calls or time (one dollar or fifty cents per minute). Ensure you know how the cost is calculated and what method best satisfies your needs. Go through your call logs to establish the usual duration of phone calls and your needs. You and your provider should work together to create a plan that'll offer value for your money. Also, keep in mind call fluctuations, like seasonal sale patterns, and consider how they impact rates and answering agent availability to handle the increased volume.
- A service that focuses on your business, not everyone else's— choosing a service that concentrates only on your business makes callers believe that the answering agents are part of your business team. Research shows that your phone calls account for five to fifty percent of your service provider's traffic.
- Helpful, positive answering agents assist your business. Also, check the duration the answering agents will stay with your company. Whereas every organization experiences turnover, agents will likely stay at businesses that treat them well, and happy agents will interact more positively with your clients. Also, check that agents undergo consistent training, so they all handle your phone calls in the same way.
- A bargain might not be— compare services and prices of several providers. The least price might not come with the needed answering services. On the contrary, you should be practical about what services you need. If you need the callers' messages to be taken or recorded when you step out of the office, you might not need a live answering service.
Features of An Answering Service
Despite the name, an answering service can do a lot more than just receive your clients' calls. Some features of an answering service are standard with given partners, while others are valuable offerings that could supplement your essential services.
Employee Absence and Reporting Management
Unplanned and planned employee absences are unavoidable, as are the delayed timelines and lost productivity that comes with them. However, the greater the efficiency and communication you have to manage absences, the least they'll affect your business operations.
With employee absence and reporting management services, your employees have one number to call, and answering agents can immediately report the absence to the shift supervisor. They can go further to make arrangements for replacement on your behalf. Lastly, you will be capable of accessing daily reports through a web portal or your communication method of choice.
Particularly for service organizations, emergency dispatch services ensure you aren't bothered when out in the field working but connected to emergency calls when necessary. If any caller requires emergency service, you can connect them to designated on-call personnel. Instead of interrupting your work to handle routine phone calls, emergency dispatching can escalate critical calls and enable you to go through the messages whenever you have time.
Service companies, sales teams, and financial, law, and medical practices benefit from appointment booking support. Scheduling appointments eliminates the risk of a customer or prospect going to your competitor merely because you could not respond to their phone call after hours. Answering agents are on standby to respond to your clients' calls and schedule appointments when you direct them.
Additionally, an online appointment booking app lets you view your appointments in real-time and ensure that no customers are booked twice. Most importantly, an answering service can do appointment reminders and confirmations to reduce no-shows and maintain cash flow.
How you communicate with your customers and retrieve messages can be incredibly flexible to your preferences. An answering service offers several methods of helping you streamline how you and your staff access messages. These methods include:
- Secure text messaging— a message can consist of audio clips or attachments, or it can be a simple exchange of words
- Automated attendant service— with this feature, you can route phone calls to individual numbers using a dial-by-name directory.
- Communications portal— this feature lets you receive messages in your preferred method and access comprehensive info in a web portal.
- Voicemail service— a unified voicemail box that enables prospects to leave messages directly with individual members of your staff
We live in the information age, but this does not mean we can always access it. A web portal feature of an answering service ensures you access all types of data impacting your business in real-time. You can quickly discover the number of calls you have received in an hour, month, or day. You can also know what time clients tend to contact your business most. Additionally, you can determine the nature of your prospects' calls. All this information is accessible through a dashboard or more comprehensive reporting.
Advantages of Partnering With a Portland Answering Service Provider
The primary benefits of working with an answering agent include the following:
- First-class customer service— answering service agents are experts in customer service. Whether your clients contact you through email, phone, or the chat window on your website, the agents will deliver the service they deserve.
- Focus on the future— an answering service will help you work smarter and not harder. When you don't need to worry about responding to clients’ chats or answering their phone calls, you can concentrate on your long-term vision and strategizing for your company.
- They're cheaper compared to employing an in-house receptionist, meaning they'll save you money. In 2016, the average office space in Portland rented for about $21 per sq. ft. per year, a year-over-year increase of 7.5 percent. As the city develops, renting space will become costly. An answering agent or virtual receptionist does not take up much of your office space. In fact, they may not take any space at all since they will be working remotely. And considering the average in-house receptionist in Portland earns $39,453 annually, answering service providers have affordable plans that'll save your business money.
- Marketing optimization— do not waste the funds you spend on marketing. An answering service will help you generate and capture leads, making your marketing more effective.
When current or prospective clients call your business, they won't know that they're speaking to an answering agent. That is because the individual answering the call will know what company they're working for and respond with greetings personalized to your company. Based on your instructions, they can then forward the phone call to you or pass on the details so you can call back.
Find Reliable Portland Answering Services Near Me
In today's consumer-driven world, customers have needs 24/7. Your business needs to respond at every turn accordingly. An answering service allows you the flexibility and freedom to step out of your office, knowing professional answering agents are ready to handle each call around the clock. At Best Call Center, we offer custom business answering service plans. Companies on the hunt for affordable answering services in Portland, Oregon, are always pleasantly impressed when they learn that our services aren’t only budget-friendly but can even save a significant amount of money and positively impact the bottom line. Call us at 800-385-4656 to learn more about our services and partner with us. We are on all the time, so you don't have to be!