The 8 questions you MUST ask your call answering service

Brought to you by Emma Mills


The 8 questions you MUST ask your call answering service


Ok, so you’ve done your research and know a call answering service is the right choice foryou.

Now this leads to thenext big question: which firm do I pick?

As you’ll probably know by now, not all call answering services are the same. Some are small but beautifully-formed boutique operations catering very closely to their client’s every whim. While others are glorified call centres designed to handle large volume of calls.

Picking out the perfect call answering service is all about knowing what you need.

But here’s the problem. If you’ve never used a call answering service, how can you check they’re legit?

How do you know you’re making the right choice so it doesn’t turn into a call answering nightmare?

Never fear. I’m here to make this a whole lot easier for you. By asking the right questions, you can get the answers which reveal whether a firm is right for you. But whoever you work with, I believe it’s important you choose a firm that’s going to have a positive impact on your day-to-day working life.

That’s why I’ve pulled together these eight must-ask questions with which to quiz any potential call answering service. It won’t take a second, and could save you a lot of time.

1. Who have you worked with similar to my business?

Of course, no-one expects someone answering your calls to know as much about your business as you. Yet, it’s really useful to discover if the firm has experience handling calls for businesses like yours. Another thing to check is if they’ve served businesses of your size and in your general industry. At least that’ll put them in the ballpark of experience.

Oh, and don’t feel shy about making them work for it. Any really good firm will just lurve being asked for a case study or two or be happy to let their customers speak with you. If they can give you proof of successful relationships with other businesses like yours, consider that a huge tick. If they’re reluctant to co-operate with this entirely reasonable request, sound the alarm bells. Do you really want your prospects coming into contact with a company that’s shown a poor attitude towards its own customers?

2. How much can you tailor your service?

No two businesses are alike. Your business probably does things very differently from your competitors. So when it comes to hiring a call answering service, it’s dead important services can be tailored to meet your needs. This could be anything from managing different phone lines for different types of calls, providing a 24/7 service or offering a scaled back service that covers only certain hours in the day.

Just remember you’re in control. Go for a firm that is willing to work around you. That’s why I’d be wary about fixed, one-size-fits-all call answering solutions. If you need to start changing the way you work around them… run a mile. Instead, take out a pen and note down very quick a list of your ideal requirements for your call answering firm. Check off each requirement as you quiz each prospective firm.

3. What happens when lots of call come in at once? Will some get missed?

This is one of the questions I’m most asked. If your business is booming and the phones are ringing off the hook, the last thing you want to do is miss a hot prospect eager to buy from you. Check with your potential call answering firm that there’s a contingency plan in place for when call volumes get high. Which leads on to the next really important question…

4. How many people will be handling my calls?

You’ll probably have more than one person answering your calls, so ask exactly how many people will work on your account to ensure it’s not a ridiculously high number.

Why? Surely, more is better?

Well not exactly. You only want your calls to be answered by people who are fully briefed on your business. The last thing you want is for customers hearing a different voice every time. The ideal scenario is for the process to be so effortless that your customers and prospects build a relationship with your call handlers… without them even knowing they’re a call handler. You’re taking a big leap of faith trusting a stranger with your live enquiries, so knowing they’re representing your business well is super important. Having a relationship with your call handlers helps make them feel like a genuine extension to your team.

5. How can I make sure my work is being handled correctly?

This is an obvious one, but so important we couldn’t leave it out. Ok, you don’t want to go all Big Brother on your call answering firm, but seriously — how do you know how your calls are getting answered? Ask your provider what systems they have in place to help you check your call handlers’work. Also find out what process the call handler follows when answering each call, what kind of notes will be made and how these will be made available to you.

6. Are you able to take action on my behalf or do you just take my calls?

When it comes to call answering it’s best to do more than it says on the tin. For example, at Mi-PA we do call answering but this is supported with other services such as diary management, customer support, in fact… anything else really. The problem is not every call answering service is able to go above and beyond call answering. Which could be a deal-killer if that’s what you’re looking for. You may want your call handlers pass on the details of each call and let you take it from there. And sure enough, this is the best option for when your personal expertise is needed.

But what about when the call is about something straightforward, like booking an appointment or receiving a copy of your sales pack? Wouldn’t it be better to let those jobs eat into someone else’s time? Which is why it’s worth having the conversation with your call answering partner to understand what they can do for you beyond just fielding your calls. You might quickly discover more efficient ways to cope with your workload and – if this extra level of service is unavailable – find it’s worth looking around for a new call answering partner.

7. How do you handle those pesky sales calls?

Knowing you never have to deal with nuisance sales calls ever again is one massive weight off your shoulders. But don’t put it to the back of your mind just yet. Ask your call answering partner how they deal with unwanted calls.

Do they have a procedure in place for identifying whether a call is unwanted and how to close them down quickly and politely?

Your call answering service should be able to talk you through a standard process they follow when unwanted calls come in. The benefit of having a set procedure is your call handlers spend less time on calls you don’t want and more time taking calls from people who matter.

8. Do you have a gorgeous ‘lil doggy in your office?

Ok, ok, this may not be an essential question exactly, but I’m pretty sure every PA office needs a dog. Why? Because a little pooch never fails to make the whole office happy. And a happy office means happy call handlers, which means happy customers for you! Ok, that last one may be a little tongue-in-cheek… but it’s good know how strong your call answering team really is. Hopefully, if you’re in the market for a call answering firm these nine questions will point you in the right direction and help you find a service perfect for your needs.

Whatever you do, remember you’re in control. Ask for plenty of proof the firm can do what they say they can do. And, if possible, speak to current customers (or even better get sneaky and call them to see how their calls are answered!) If you want to test the waters with a new call answering service designed with all of these points in mind, call 0161 820 6080 now to set up a free 1 week trial of our Virtual Receptionist service.

You can discover more about it here.

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