A competent telephone system is essential for a growing small business. It enables clients to get in touch with an organization and allows co-workers to communicate effectively. In some cases, a company may outsource customer phone calls and inquiries to a third party and hire the best answering service for small business.

What is an answering service?

Simply put, an answering service is a phone support service that processes customer inquiries and issues on behalf of businesses. The service is ideal for companies whose staff cannot handle their call traffic effectively or want to be available to clients 24/7.

Businesses that work with answering services sign up for different types of support depending on their needs. Some of the standard services offered include setting appointments, assisting in help desk matters, sending e-mails, receiving messages, and handling outgoing and incoming calls. Most times, an answering service goes beyond picking up phone calls on behalf of clients.

What’s the point of an answering service?

Customer service is an essential part of a small business that values its growth. To ensure that your customers get a professional response and satisfactory engagement, you need a reliable answering service. Here are some reasons why the services are beneficial to an organization.

  • Handles incoming calls when busy. An answering service takes over when you and your team are preoccupied not to miss any business opportunities. The service involves call handling, engagement with prospects, resolving customer issues, and information collection as instructed. 
  • Ensures availability 24/7. Answering services make a business accessible to clients all day and night. Sales opportunities that come when the company is closed can still be captured and acted upon swiftly. Customers will also be assured that their inquiries will get a response no matter the time.
  • Increases customer satisfaction. Talking to a real person through an answering service builds a better connection with customers. When customers are treated well, they develop loyalty and bring with them repeat business. 
  • It’s cost-effective. The best answering service for small business can help save money by eliminating the need to have an employee on-site. The costs associated with outsourcing customer service are minimal compared to having full-time employees. Training of employees at your own expense is also eliminated as the answering service provides professionals to handle your matters. 

How much does it cost to have an answering service?

The cost of subcontracting to an answering service is at the top of the list for most small business owners. At first glance, the price may seem like an unwelcome addition to the existing business costs, but the value is easy to spot in time. 

Fortunately, several companies offer answering service packages with fair pricing. Most times, the services offered are tailor-made to meet the needs of the business, allowing you to pay only for what you need. Some of the factors that affect pricing are call duration, call volume, call complexity, and type of agent. Finding the best answering service for small business may take some effort and research, but the benefits are worth it. 

Types of answering services

Answering services are many, giving you a chance to choose the best one for your small business. Some of the most common types of answering service are autoresponders, call centers, and virtual receptionists. 

  • Autoresponders are simple to use and have several features that seek to offer help to customers. Most of them have pre-programmed questions that aim to provide solutions to a customer. However, they lack the human element, which can be a turn-off for some customers. The inability of an interactive voice response system to answer questions outside its scope or understand context is one of its significant drawbacks. 
  • Call centers are large organizations that handle large volumes of low complexity calls on behalf of businesses. They specialize in customer support over the phone offered by a real person and be involved in sales and marketing. Alternatively, the service can be impersonal because the call operators often read from a script, intending to finish a call as quickly as possible. 
  • Virtual receptionists manage incoming and outgoing phone calls on behalf of their clients remotely. They work like on-site receptionists, with many offering seamless and professional services for small business owners. The personalized services at an affordable rate make them the ideal choice for start-ups and B2B companies. If you are looking for a customized service or differentiating your customer service offering, then a virtual receptionist is the way to go. 

What’s the best answering service for your business?

Finding the best answering service for small businesses is pegged on the needs of your organization. It may seem overwhelming choosing from the options available, but knowing what to look for can make your search easier. Some of the things to consider when looking for an answering service for your business are listed below. 

  • Well-trained agents

Agents that communicate well and offer solutions to issues by customers should be a priority when outsourcing to an answering service. Ensure that the service provider has a team that meets your standards and understands the intricacies of your industry. Agents with the ability to align to the brand and stick to the brand message in all their customer interactions are ideal partners. 

  • Adept in technology

Technology is an integral part of a modern business, making it essential to hire a technologically competent team. Ensure the service provided can safeguard you from potential glitches that may affect output. An answering service that demonstrates their skills in handling your customer needs remotely is worth hiring. 

  • Reasonable pricing model 

An answering service is a cost that should be part of the overall budget of a business. Compare prices from different service providers before settling on the most affordable one for your business. If the company has surplus revenue, outsourcing phone calls can be an excellent way to engage customers and convert them to sales. 

Ultimately, an answering service is essential and cannot be underrated by an expanding company. The choice of the service provider will be a determinant between the growth of your small business or its downfall.