What is an answering service?

June 30, 2021
What is an answering service?

According to research, four out of five clients that receive first-rate service from your business will return and refer you to others. But what happens when your company struggles to meet customer demands and cannot manage communication effectively? You need to hire an answering service. 

In simple terms, an answering service is a third-party company that takes over calls on behalf of a business. The services provided by these companies depend on the needs of a business, with the majority offering customized options.

What is the purpose of an answering service?

If you have never interacted with an answering service, you might be a bit confused about its benefits for your business. Here are some reasons why you may need an answering service. 

  • It increases productivity

Handling telephone calls at the office can be pretty distracting for staff and a business owner. The time taken to answer the call and get back to work can be assigned to other tasks, by using an answering service. When your staff knows that they will only handle high-priority calls, they focus better on the more essential tasks resulting in higher productivity. 

  • It saves time

Answering services are run by highly qualified professionals who answer calls, gather information needed, and respond promptly. Their ability to seamlessly handle your business calls gives you time to focus on other tasks. When you have extra time, you can spend it strategizing for the business or networking to grow your business. 

  • It improves customer experience

Customers like it when they call a business, and their issue is sorted within the shortest time. When working with an answering service, your customers are handled professionally, and their inquiries are responded to as per company policy. Also, staff at these virtual offices are regularly trained to ensure the service is always top-notch. 

  • It increases working hours

If you have been wondering how to extend your business hours without staying back at the office, an answering service is your solution. The majority of these companies can operate 24/7, including holidays, ensuring customers can call in anytime. When customers know they will be responded to quickly, they will engage more with your company.  

  • It enhances brand perception

A business with an answering service can seem credible because of the professionalism of the outsourced team. The virtual receptionist can relay information using company scripts to maintain your brand voice. In most cases, customers can easily convert into sales when they love a company brand and its messaging. 

  • It’s affordable

When considering answering services, the cost is a priority for most businesses. Luckily, the services are cheaper than hiring an in-house receptionist and setting up space for them in your office. Most answering services operate virtually, meaning the outsourced company takes up all the setup costs, leaving you to pay only for hours worked. In the end, you end up paying an affordable amount for world-class services. 

What is an answering service for a doctor’s office?

Doctors are generally busy, with the majority handling hundreds of patients daily. To keep organized, it is essential to have someone handling communication matters at the office. One of the best ways to streamline communication is by engaging medical answering services. The answering service takes over the responsibility of incoming and outgoing calls, plus some administrative tasks. 

Answering Services for a doctor’s office focus on offering a great customer experience to patients calling in or visiting the practice. Some of the things they do on your behalf include:

  • Responding to calls to the office using the name of the practice. You can provide a greeting template to help the live receptionist greet callers professionally.
  • Answering customer questions using medical terms plus offering extra information on working hours and office location.
  • Booking appointments for new patients, sharing information with patients, and routing emergency calls to the correct person or authority. 
  • Forwarding calls or important messages to staff when out of office in cases of an emergency. When working online, they can respond to messages and tag the relevant person for swift communication. 
  • Handling customer inquiries during non-working hours and forwarding emergency cases to the appropriate staff. 

How much does an answering service cost?

Comparison shopping is common when looking for the most suitable answering service. A majority of companies that offer these services vary in their prices and base them on several factors. Some of the common ways in which businesses are billed for answering service are:

  • Per call – this option charges clients depending on the number of calls made on their behalf. The rates will fluctuate depending on call volume, which may result in inconsistent bills. Although offered to clients, this option is not as popular as per-minute billing. 
  • Per-minute – this option bills customers for every minute a virtual receptionist spends on a call. It is the most common option available, with some answering services offering plans for their customers. These plans can include choosing to pay for a block of minutes or every call. Depending on call volume, you can scale down or upgrade the per-minute option.
  • Per unit – this option is best for businesses that hire answering services to do more than handling calls. A “unit” can refer to a call or message which is added to the overall bill. 

Besides the basic payment options available when seeking answering services, there are some additional costs to consider. These additional costs may be required at the onset of the engagement, while others are paid off over time. Some extra costs to consider when booking an answering service are set-up fees to activate your account and holiday fees for those working during official holidays. It is advisable to read through your contract carefully to check for any hidden fees above the base rate to avoid increasing the overall costs for your preferred answering service provider.  

Ultimately, an answering service is an asset to any business or medical practice that’s looking to grow. If you value your customers, reputation, and future success, working with an answering service is the way to go.