Whether your company has just implemented remote work policies, or you’ve been managing a remote workforce for several years, you may be wondering how you can enhance workforce efficiency, and make sure your employees are empowered with the tools they need to accomplish their tasks without interruption.
One of the best tools you may never have thought about is an answering service.
With an answering service, you can boost efficiency, minimize downtime, and enhance the productivity of your workforce dramatically.
How? Continue reading this article, and find out (or skip to the section that interests you most by using the links below.)
What Is An Answering Service? Understanding The Basics
Answering services are usually provided by experienced customer service representatives at third-party call centers, such as those at AnswerFirst. These customer service professionals answer phone calls from customers, clients, business partners, and anyone else who needs to get in touch with your remote workforce.
Essentially, these companies provide services that are similar to those that a full-time receptionist or secretary would offer. They answer calls, take messages, redirect and forward calls, and can even provide services like appointment scheduling, depending on your needs and your service agreement. That’s why an answering service is also sometimes called a “virtual receptionist.” They offer very similar services.
These services are usually provided on a contractual basis. You may pay per call, per minute of usage, for a monthly retainer, or some other method may be used to determine how much you pay for call answering services.
Using an answering service provides you with more seamless communications, ensures your phones are picked up at all hours of the day and night and gives your customers a better experience when communicating with your remote team.
Now that you understand the basics, let’s dive a bit more deeply into the benefits that your remote workforce can enjoy when using a call answering service.
The Benefits Of Using An Answering Service With A Remote Workforce
So, why bother with an answering service when you’re running a business with a remote workforce? Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy if you choose to work with a professional call answering service like AnswerFirst.
- Maintain a single point of contact – Your customers and clients won’t have to worry about remembering multiple phone numbers, sorting through contact information, and other such things. This can be especially difficult with remote workers, who may have phones or VoIP systems with vastly different phone numbers in different area codes.Instead, a customer or client who wants to connect with you will only have to call your primary contact number. Their call will be answered and redirected to the proper individual based on the instructions that you give to your call answering partner. This single point of contact streamlines communications and makes things much more efficient.
- Easily connect your team members across the country – One of the challenges associated with a remote workforce, particularly one with members spread across the country (or even internationally) is keeping them in a unified team. If you have one office in Austin, one in Chicago, and one in Atlanta, how are you supposed to keep everyone in communication with each other?A call answering service can help. Your workers and clients alike can call a single number, ask to be connected to another individual or department, and get connected immediately – without poring through business directories.
- Ensure your business sounds professional and reputable – One benefit of a call answering service is that all of your callers will be greeted by a highly-trained customer service professional.Your business will be introduced by name, and you can give the call center instructions on how to handle different types of callers to ensure that they get the best service. In addition, each call is monitored, so you can check on the performance of your call center partner and make sure you’re getting the best possible service.This ensures that your calls are always being handled in the proper manner, and that the call answering service is representing your company and your remote team properly as they interact with callers.
- Save money compared to hiring a secretary or receptionist – Hiring a full-time receptionist or secretary for your remote workforce is certainly an option, but it can be quite expensive.Not only do you have to pay a salary and benefits, but you also have to spend time interviewing each individual applicant, pay for background checks, and perform other such tasks that cost you additional time and money. The average cost of hiring a full-time employee is about $4,129, according to Toggl. That doesn’t even include their salary!In addition, you may not need to have a secretary or receptionist if you only field a few calls per day. For a growing business, hiring a full-time or even a part-time worker may be overkill. They may not have enough to do on a day-to-day basis to justify the cost of hiring them.So if you don’t have the cash flow or call volume to hire a full-time worker, an answering service is a great option. You get a nearly identical level of service for a lower rate, and you’ll often only pay per-minute for the time you use, which will save you a huge amount of money compared to hiring a full-time worker.
- Fewer unnecessary interruptions for your remote workers – Do your remote workers often get calls from clients, customers, or coworkers that interrupt their work? Often, these calls may not even be directed to the right person. Your workers may have to redirect the call or provide the caller with the information of the right individual – which will interrupt their workflow.These interruptions can seriously affect productivity and efficiency. But with an answering service, they will be much less common. In turn, this will enhance the ability of your remote teams to work efficiently, and minimize interruptions.
- 24/7 responsiveness – Remote answering services operate 24/7. This means that, even if a client or customer calls your business late at night, they can talk to a real person, and leave a message. If an issue is particularly urgent, their call can even be rerouted after hours to the proper employee, so that it can be taken care of right away.This is important because customers and clients typically do not like leaving voicemails. Somewhere between 72-80% of people will hang up if a call goes to voicemail. They may call back later, or they may not call back at all. But if they get through to a real live person, they’re usually more than happy to leave a message that can be sent on to the appropriate staff member.
- Take messages, forward calls, make appointments & more – This depends on the answering service you use, as well as the contract you sign. But in most cases, it’s possible to set up your service to not only take messages and forward calls, but also to schedule appointments using your preferred calendar software, input customer information into a CMS (Customer Management System) and much more.This can dramatically reduce the amount of time that your team spends on administrative tasks, which helps boost efficiency and productivity. This is a particularly big benefit for smaller teams that do not have much extra time to spend on such tasks.
For all of these reasons and quite a few more, an answering service is a great investment for your remote teams. Not only will your company be able to handle calls and messages more efficiently, but it will also appear more professional and reputable, and you’ll also enhance the productivity of your remote workforce.
What To Look For In An Answering Service For A Remote Workforce
Now that you know the basics about why answering services are useful for remote workforces, let’s take a look at a few of the things you should look for when considering which answering service you should hire to assist your remote teams.
Live, Human Operators
First and foremost, you should only work with an answering service that always offers fast, responsive service with live, human operators. Ideally, you should also be looking for a service that operates in the United States, and has native English speakers answering your calls. This ensures that your customers will get the best possible level of service.
Customizable Scripts, Menus, Services & More
Most answering services allow you to create a customizable touch-tone menu, which your callers can use to have their call directed to the proper individual before even speaking to a customer service professional. Additionally, look for a service that allows you to customize the script that is used to answer your calls, and offers additional service like appointment scheduling. This ensures that you have plenty of flexibility both now and in the future.
This is the best way to get excellent service and still save money while working with a call answering service. Usage-based billing means that you will only be charged for the time that each customer service professional spends answering calls. Most usage-based call answering companies like AnswerFirst use a model that charges you a flat rate per minute for each call that comes in.Avoid companies with hidden fees, additional surcharges, and other such unexpected costs. Ask questions about their pricing model during interviews to ensure that you choose the right company for your remote workforce.
24/7, 365 Service
All major answering services should offer 24/7, 365 service. Your customers should always be able to contact your business at any time of day or night, and get their call answered by a professional customer service representative. Even if they take a message and you get to it on the next business day, 24/7 service makes your customers and clients feel like they’re being listened to.For that reason, you should settle for nothing less than 24/7, 365 service. This includes holidays, weekends, and more. Whenever a client calls your answering service, someone should be there to pick up – full stop.
Flexible Message Delivery
You should be able to choose your preferred format for delivering messages from customers. Whether you prefer SMS, email, a cell phone call, fax, or voicemail, your answering service should be able to deliver messages in the format of your choice – ensuring that you and your remote teams can easily stay organized, and view all relevant messages quickly.
If you’re in the market for a call answering service, you should definitely keep these factors in mind when interviewing companies to work with. By ensuring your chosen call answering service meets these expectations, you’ll get a better overall level of service.
Know Why An Answering Service Can Benefit Your Team: And Find The Right Partner!
We hope this guide has been informative, and helped explain the basics of call answering services, how they can benefit your remote team, and what you should be looking for if you’re searching for a call answering partner.
If you’re interested in learning more and exploring the benefits of call answering services in further detail, take a look at our blog for more information about how call answering works, its benefits, and the services we offer at AnswerFirst.
Ready to get started, and explore the benefits of hiring a call answering service for your remote workforce?
AnswerFirst is always here to help.
Contact us online to learn more, or give us a call at 866-375-5735.
Our 24/7, U.S.-based call answering services are the best option for remote workforces, and we’d love to discuss our services with you in more detail. Get in touch now, and see how you can benefit from working with AnswerFirst.