If you are running a small business and looking forward to taking it to the next level, you should take customer service seriously. With good customer service, you will be able to create a strong bond with your customers and make them feel confident about buying from you. One way to raise your customer service standard is to consider employing a professional telephone answering service provider who can ensure excellent outbound and inbound customer support.

Choosing the right phone answering service provider can be tricky as the market offers several options and you may not be aware of the various aspects that you should consider. In this article, we have guided readers on the selection of the best telephone answering service provider based on certain key parameters. Read through this article to know what should be your prime considerations.

  • Would your call center service provider keep your customer service channels open 24/7?

    You would definitely want to keep your communication channels always available on a 24/7 basis. This would not only ensure business continuity, but would also guarantee that your customers are able to get in touch with you whenever they need you the most. You should ensure that your answering service provider remains operational during weekends, holidays, and nights. However, this may come with a higher price tag. It might also happen that an answering service remains available up to a certain time after which it gets switched over into an automated system. You should check with your shortlisted service providers to find out what their options are.

  • What should be the preferred qualities of the operators?

    The professionalism and the communication of the telephone operators assigned by your answering service to assist your customers would determine the success of your engagements. The operators should act in the best interest of your business and they should handle your customers in the same way as your in-house employees would deal with them. The operators should demonstrate appropriate styles of communication depending on the nature of your business. In other words, your call center agent should be adaptive in order to be able to cater to the needs of different types of customers.

  • Are you looking to provide personalized experience?

    Agents delivering telephone answering service should deliver a personalized experience to your customers. Your agents should not use a generic call handling approach and should adopt a customized way of dealing with your customers in order to address their specific needs. With a personalized approach, you will be able to make your customers feel important and valued. You may consider delivering training to your agents so that they understand your business’s culture well and provide customer service in an appropriate manner.

  • What’s your budget?

    Phone answering services come at varied budgets. Many services won’t charge you a flat figure, but they would charge you on the basis of business activities and the volume of calls that they need to handle. Many companies have different pricing plans, but you need to have a fixed monthly call volume in place so as to be able to make use of these fixed-rate-based plans. You can set an appropriate pricing model for your business if you determine your call volume, budget, and how you want to use your answering service.  There are basically two types of billing models namely, per-minute-billing and per-call-billing with each model having its own set of pros and cons. Try out both the models to find out which one is a low-cost option.

  • Do you think that evaluation is necessary prior to sign-up?

    Check if your chosen service provider offers a free trial. If yes, you may consider making test calls to understand what your customers may be facing when they call your customer service team. In case you think that you need to update anything, let your agents know about it right during the free trial stage. You may consider checking out their other features in order to understand how you can utilize their services to an optimal extent. You can, for example, review their appointment booking program or check if they can perform upselling and cross-selling activities.

  • How would you want to monitor your calls?

    Certain answering service providers would choose to send you message records via email, fax, or text, but you may not get the scope of viewing call records online. You should therefore choose a company that would have the capability for online call monitoring. This way, you would have greater control over how your agents attend to your customers. You should be allowed access to call logs, call recordings, and reports. You should also have the privilege of managing your schedules and making important updates.

  • Is your service user-friendly?

    You should find an answering service to be easy to use. You should find it easy to make changes to your on-call schedule, call scripts, email addresses or text messages. You need an answering service to make your daily interactions with your customers easier and to maintain the continuity of your operations and so you should make sure that you are choosing a user-friendly service that follows a simple workflow. Utilize your trial period well and evaluate your shortlisted vendor based on this parameter.

  • Are your service provider’s systems compatible with yours?

    You should make sure that the systems deployed by your service provider are compatible with yours. If this is not the case, you will face trouble integrating your operations with your service provider’s.  The integration should be such that you will be able to access data in real time from your vendor’s systems, which would prevent you from doing double work that you might otherwise end up doing by logging into several systems.

  • Is your service provider using updated technologies?

    Your service provider should be using the latest version of technology. Does your call center provide cloud-based operations? If you have a large call volume to be handled, make sure that you do business with a large and reliable service provider that has the required technology to address your needs.

  • Are your call center agents properly trained?

    You should appoint experienced call center agents. It is a good idea to engage a company that has been in the field for quite some time. Such a company is most likely to employ the best talents in the industry. Your agents should be aware of common phone etiquettes and they should be trained to handle your business’s specific requirements. You may provide specific instructions related to your products and services, industry-specific use of phrases and keywords, your company’s philosophy and history, and troubleshooting mechanisms. Ask your service provider about the type of training that it delivers to its agents. Is it classroom training or on-job training or a mixture of both?

  • Does your service provider have a quality assurance element in place?

    Do the call center agents get regularly monitored by the management of your call center or by its quality assurance team? Make sure that you have a clear idea about the quality assurance process that your contact center follows. This would let you understand the level of service that you can expect from the agents. Your quality assurance checklist should include a review of the existing greeting and concluding phrases, the spelling of the caller’s name, the way the call was handled, and the scripting.

  • Does your call center operate from multiple locations?

    It is a wise approach not to choose a call center company that operates from one single location. Your service would get disrupted if that single center suffers the impact of natural calamities.  You should ideally partner with a service provider that has set up call centers in multiple locations. So in case a call center fails to operate for some reason, your customers’ calls would be redirected to another call center located in a different geography.

  • What’s the current staffing status of your service provider?

    If a call center hires many agents, it may mean that it can handle a large number of calls at a certain point of time. You should avoid hiring an understaffed service provider as this might lead to longer wait times and customer dissatisfaction.

  • Is your answering service compatible with your company’s culture?

    Your answering service agents would be the first line of contact with your customers. So you should ensure that your business gets represented by them in the most appropriate manner. You should set your expectations right at the very beginning. Should your agents adopt a formal or an informal tone of speaking? What should they do when they do not have answers to their questions? For how long can they put a customer on hold?

  • Does the service provider serve any other company in your industry?

    If your service provider is already serving another company that offers a similar service as yours, then you may be sure that your service provider is already ready to deliver high-quality service without much intervention or training.

  • Does Reliable Emergency Back-up Plan?

    You should choose a service provider that deploys emergency backup plans such as backup power and backup of components of critical systems.

  • Is your vendor certified?

    It is a good idea to select a service provider that is certified by any acclaimed institution. Call centers having this certification satisfy parameters concerning training, operations, and backup plans. So you can be sure that your vendor would follow the best practice approach.

  • Can the agents provide multilingual support?

    Ideally, your service provider should be able to provide you with multilingual call center support so that you can reach people in diverse geographies.

PGBS is a reputed provider of call center services that include multilingual customer support, inbound call center support, etc. We appoint bilingual executives as well as multilingual staff who can deliver customer support in your preferred language. We put strong focus on call center agent training and ensure that you make the most out of your investments by setting a strong connection with your customers and building brand loyalty. If you have a requirement, we can discuss.