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What Does An Answering Service Do?

By John O'Haver

Last modified: February 15, 2023

Has your business become overwhelmed by the regular influx of calls? Are you struggling to keep up? An answering service could provide the solution you’re looking for.

An answering service can perform several vital functions that make it easier to streamline your business practices and provide your customers with the high level of support they expect from you.

1. Answering Calls

Of course, the basic function of an answering service is to answer calls as they come in.

An Answering Service Handles Overflow During Business Hours

Sometimes, you may have more calls coming into the office than you can reasonably keep up with. You may find your receptionists consistently need to put people on hold or may even miss calls, especially during peak business hours. An answering service can pick up overflow calls during peak hours, ensuring that your customers get to talk to a live person instead of leaving a message.

Seven out of 10 customers prefer interacting with a live person when dealing with a company’s customer service department. Furthermore, customers may feel a much higher level of satisfaction with the company when their call is actually answered, rather than being transferred to a machine.

An Answering Services Handle Off-Hours Calls

Some of your customers may prefer to get in touch with your business outside your working hours. If your business operates on a traditional 9–5 schedule, clients may find it particularly difficult to connect with you. An answering service can ensure that your clients can connect with a live representative whenever they call.

2. An Answering Service Can Connect Urgent Calls

After-hours calls generally fall into two categories. Some are general calls about matters that simply did not get handled during regular business hours. However, other calls may require your urgent attention.

Your voicemail, and your clients’ voicemail, often cannot tell the difference between an urgent need and something that can wait until the next business day. There are also plenty of reasons why you should stop sending your calls to voicemail, one of which is the cost to your business. An answering service can help ensure that urgent calls are connected appropriately and in a timely manner.

Call Screening

Out-of-hours calls from clients with minor needs can usually be dealt with the next business day. However, in some fields, you cannot afford to keep your clients waiting. Healthcare professionals and lawyers, in particular, often find that their clients need to connect with them urgently.

If you send calls directly to your personal number, even if you carry a work phone, you may spend a great deal of unnecessary time screening and dealing with non-urgent calls. However, an answering service can ensure that your clients with urgent needs are connected to you immediately. Meanwhile, an answering service can provide clients with less pressing concerns with information about an appropriate time to contact you for additional support.

Connect to the Right Parties

When clients have an urgent, immediate need, especially after hours, it can be difficult to get information to the right party. Who is on call on any given day or shift? Who can actually handle the client’s issue?

You may have a complicated phone tree that clients have to navigate to get their calls directed to the right people, or you might find yourself facing a variety of calls that end up in the wrong location.

An answering service can forward urgent calls to an appropriate person who can deal with the call, which can improve customer satisfaction and ensure that you don’t miss important calls.

3. An Answering Service Can Schedule Appointments

In many cases, an answering service can schedule essential appointments for patients or clients. For example, at a medical practice, an answering service can search for available appointment times and even book the right appointment length for a patient’s specific needs.

Some of your clients have made the transition to online scheduling with ease, but others may still need assistance from a live person to correctly schedule an appointment. Clients may also feel reassured by the ability to confirm an appointment time directly with the person that does the scheduling.

You can empower your answering service to schedule some appointments that cannot be easily taken care of online. For example, you might have time for quick appointments or fit in a client with an urgent need, which an online scheduling system will not allow. Your answering service can take care of those tasks, improving client satisfaction and allowing your office to run smoothly.

4. An Answering Service Can Answer Basic Questions

Sometimes, you may have basic questions that your clients ask on regular basis.

  • What time is my appointment?
  • How does this product work?
  • Can I make a return, and how should I do it?

Many of those questions do not have to be answered by experts. Instead, you can provide your answering service with the answers you would like to give your clients, then rely on the answering service to connect with them, answer their questions, and make them feel supported.

5. An Answering Service Can Decrease Your Costs

Paying a full-time front-office secretary or receptionist can be very expensive, especially if your call volume increases and you need to hire more than one individual to fill these roles. The average front-desk secretary’s salary hovers around $30,000 annually. You will also need to factor in the cost of office space, benefits, and vacation coverage.

An answering service can help keep your costs low while still providing a high level of customer service and support.

Learn More About How an Answering Service Can Help

Do you have more questions about what an answering service can offer and how it can benefit your business? Are you looking for a solution to your call volume problem? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.