I am a real estate investor and I’m frequently overwhelmed with business phone calls.

Business man illustration using it wrong or rightSince missing phone calls was costing me business, I decided I needed to hire an answering service. However, I wanted a service that could do more than just answer my calls, I also wanted them to gather some information from my callers; I have about 15 questions that I ask potential clients who are trying to sell their homes and I knew that if a service could go through these questions with callers, it would save me a lot of time. After a significant amount of research, I decided that AnswerFirst was the perfect business partner for not only answering my phones, but also qualifying and screening my leads.

After my account was set-up and ready to go live, my AnswerFirst rep told me the caller experience was not going to be ideal due to the questions I wanted included in my call scripts, but I wanted to try it anyway.

Well, I learned quickly that it is impossible to script an answering service account for every possible scenario. For example, when I am answering my own calls and a caller tells me that she doesn’t want to disclose how much she still owes on her house it gives me the opportunity to explain why it is important for me to know that amount. However, my response isn’t scripted – I just rely on my years of experience as an investor to explain the investment process and why it’s important for me to know this information. So, it would be impossible for even the most qualified virtual receptionist or answering service to effectively have that conversation with a caller. At one point during AnswerFirst’s account set-up process, my account rep said, “Let us excel at what we are good at, which is customer service, taking messages and effectively delivering them, while you focus on what you’re good at, which is evaluating your potential clients’ needs and stepping them through the investment process.”

I was using the service wrong, it’s that simple.

I was trying to make the Customer Service Professionals at AnswerFirst act as real estate experts while also sacrificing the best tool I have to gain new clients – the initial conversation I have with callers during which I learn about their needs and take the first step in building relationships with them. It took me using the service wrong to realize the most powerful tool I have is not the answers to my initial questions but the conversations I have to get those answers.

So, I ended up changing my call script by removing the questions and now I have AnswerFirst collect a few critical pieces of information and then notify my callers that I’ll return their calls promptly. Not only do I get to have those important conversations with my potential clients, but I also cut my answering service bill in half.