More and more businesses are realizing the importance of having dedicated and ongoing customer support. As competition heats up, you need outstanding answering services to set you apart from the crowd. Stats show that 65% of customers want their issue solved in 15 minutes or less, while 78% will leave a company after a single poor customer service experience. Hiring a professional firm can take care of all that. That’s why we curated a list of the top companies in the field. Read on to learn which they are, how we selected them and what you need to consider before hiring one yourself.
To curate our selection of highly regarded and recommended companies for business call answering, we took a look at a wide range of factors we deemed crucial for a high ranking on our list. Read on to learn what they are and how they impacted our final selection.
The first thing we look at is the type of services the call answering company offers. We start by considering a list of compulsory services, while an impressive selection of additional services is also likely to boost a company’s place on our list.
Those are the first type of services we look for, where people are tasked with fielding the calls for a company and handling them accordingly. Typically, a company will present the call center with information on how they want each call to be handled. These services should include tasks like taking messages, live chat, making appointments, and customer support. We look for companies that not only offer live services but that can manage a higher volume and wide range of calls.
These services are ideal for companies where most of the activity happens online, for example, an e-commerce site. We look out for companies that include live web chat, online message accessing, responding to web inquiries, and order processing. While live services can work for online sites as well, since they don’t always include all of these options, we prefer companies that offer online services separately.
We see those as absolutely essential for businesses in need of 24/7 customer support. In this way, customers can leave messages at all hours, and someone will get back to them once working hours resume. Or, customers can listen to the automated service and choose the best option for their needs. This makes this type of service perfect for companies that receive a high call volume of people looking for basic information, like operating hours, etc. and do not need to actually speak to a live person.
On top of the above crucial telephone answering services, we also took a more in-depth look at any other services offered by the provider. While these additional services can be similar to our main set of offerings, we prefer to recommend companies that provide an all-encompassing experience to its clients. Outfits offering the following additional services got top rankings on our list.
Virtual receptionists are real people who answer calls and provide customer support from a remote location. They perform the same tasks as traditional receptionists, except they are not based on site. Common tasks can include virtual answering service, transferring calls, scheduling new appointments, collecting call information, taking call inquiries and messages, answering basic questions, and more. Ultimately, the location of a receptionist should not make a difference to a customer calling your business for an inquiry. It’s also important to note that there are specialized companies for virtual receptionist services.
If your business has a high call volume, you want to look for an outsourced answering service that offers call center services as well. Alternatively, you can look for specialized call center companies. Either way, this works well for lead generation or just to assist existing receptionists and customer service representatives during the high season. These services also work for organizations with high call volumes as you will need more than one or two people to field all the calls.
We consider a company’s previous work and track record when putting together our list of recommended answering services for small businesses, midsize companies or large organizations and enterprises. We do solid research to find out some of the outfit’s previous clients or companies they have worked with in the past.
We do more than just check out the testimonials on their website. We look at directories and review sites and even get in touch with real past customers to get their direct feedback. We question whether the company provided excellent services and how their business benefited from hiring a professional answering service. We take all the input provided by third parties into consideration when making our final ranking.
We look for companies that offer more than just answering calls and related services. They also need to provide a range of features to fulfill a large variety of customer support needs, ranging from live chat services to appointment scheduling, order processing, and more. Companies that offer these advanced features are considered the best answering service providers and as such, score highly on our list.
For many companies, it is important to hire a 24/7 answering service. Most businesses have operating hours where employees and staff members work, but in some cases, require staff to be on-call after hours. A good example of these types of businesses are locksmiths, medical practitioners, and even estate agents. Customers must have a point of contact at all times when they need help — depending on the industry, this might either be essential or give you an edge over the competition. We therefore look for companies that offer an after-hours answering service, and when we find them, we make sure to give them a prime position on our list.
We consider a company a top option if they make use of the latest industry technology and call center software. This technology includes in-demand features that facilitate better customer interactions and responses while ensuring maximized productivity and optimal delivery output.
A priority for us is how the professional answering services firms treat and train their staff and how they handle a surge in call volume. It will do your company no good hiring a team that does not know how to manage your customers in the most appropriate way. That’s why we aim to verify if the representatives are polite, knowledgeable, and professional.
We also look into what training callers go through, the company culture, and what the firm looks for in terms of talent, qualifications, experience, and skill level. Finally, we also take note of how a call center retains its employees as this can tell us a lot about the company culture at the business telephone answering service firm.
Communication is key for a business to function smoothly. And we’re not just talking about communication within the team. We look for firms that know how to properly communicate with customers to get the most out of the experience. Ideally, the outfit should integrate well-trained professionals and multi-channel communication technology as well as transparency of their processes and language proficiency, all of which should align with the requirements and expectations of its clients.
To get the most information on the answering service companies, we present ourselves as potential customers which lets us test their communication skills first-hand. If we pick up on any red flags during this testing process, such as a language barrier or generally incomprehensible communication, we simply remove the company from our list.
We understand that no service can guarantee zero hold times and that’s fine. That said, the top rated answering services firms will make an effort to ensure to have the lowest possible. Lower hold times mean more agents are fielding calls or receiving and responding to messages. Long hold times are not good for business, as many customers will drop the call. To avoid long queue times with a small staff complement, phone answering firms should look at past trends and staff up during historically busy periods.
What’s more, we also look for answering services for businesses that have implemented a custom automated greeting that gives clients the information they need before a representative gets on the call. This can include letting the customer know they’ve reached the right place, the expected wait time, as well as prompts to send the customer to the correct department. Having this automated greeting not only gives the rep some breathing time between calls, but it increases the chance of the caller staying on the line.
We make sure to only list companies that prioritize their clients’ needs and interests. The best answering services have a proactive instead of a reactive approach to business, and take security measures seriously, which is what we looked for during our selection. We also make sure the business telephone answering firm makes use of emergency backup power. In this way, it’s business as usual, even if power or connectivity is lost. Can the company re-route calls to another location in this instance? Basically, we want to know that the firm has all its bases covered in case of an emergency.
In addition to offering customer support services to clients, our recommended companies for call answering services should have its own top-notch customer support. Can you really trust a business telephone answering firm that does not prioritize its own customer service? We present ourselves as potential clients to gather information about the call center’s support capabilities. Some of the traits we look for include the following:
Of course, pricing is essential when hiring any type of service for your company. This does not mean choosing the cheapest or most expensive option. Instead, we look for companies that have a variety of pricing options available that can be customized to suit the needs of the client. Typically, such firms bill either by the minute or by call, while others offer both pricing models. Many of the top call centers offer free trials, which businesses should take advantage of.
It’s not just the price of the service we look at. Top answering services should encourage clients to save money by allowing your unused minutes or calls to roll over to the next month, or give you the option to upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time. Some services will make you choose a plan and stick to it for a fixed time period, like twelve months, while others will be more flexible with your plan as your volume changes.
Ultimately, we make sure to suggest companies that only fall within industry standards when it comes to billing, are transparent and flexible and adaptive to your business requirements.
In addition to giving you a list of the top firms in the industry, we’ve also outlined some helpful tips and things to consider before moving on to committing your financial resources to a potential call answering partner. Read on to learn more about those.
Think about what it is you really need from a phone answering service. Establish your goals early on, so you are not pushed or persuaded into paying for services that don't suit your needs. Have a clear idea of how the provider will offer support and positively change your business. The scope of services available will vary greatly between different firms, so be conscious of this when choosing a partner for your business.
While some companies only offer basic features like automated and live answering service options, others will take payments through your online system, manage your diary, arrange dispatch of your goods, and more. Make sure you know what services you want and approach a company that offers it all in the most flexible way.
Another thing to consider here is your call volume. If it changes often, it will be worthwhile to go with a company that offers more flexible packages or that charges a flat rate. That said, companies that charge by the minute or call have a better incentive to get the customer on the phone, as opposed to flat rate live answering service firms.
Remember, the company you end up hiring won’t just be your long-term business partner, they will also become the first point of contact between your business and potential as well as existing customers. This means the outfit must understand your company’s voice, brand, and culture. Consider these things and choose a phone answering services company that meets your expectations.
Do you want the tone of your reps to be more formal or informal? How do they handle putting a customer on hold? You should scrutinize everything, from the way they greet a caller to the on-hold music, and everything in between. While these may seem like minor details, they will affect the image of your company, and you want to give the best impression.
Choosing a service that has experience in your industry can shave time off the process of getting everyone up to speed. What’s more, these experts may even be able to offer their own tips, advice, and suggestions to best practices based on past experience.
This is also where you decide if you need 24/7 support, which is often related to the industry you work in. For example, a company specialized in medical answering services is likely to offer both around-the-clock support, along with staff with knowledge in the field.
If your business caters to the global market and your consumers speak multiple languages, you need to make sure to hire a service provider that can offer support in all these languages. You do not want to exclude or alienate any of your current or potential customers by only assisting them in one or two languages. So, before you commit financial resources to a telephone answering service company, make sure it will offer the languages you need.
Once you have established your goals and needs, you need to determine how much you are willing to spend on these services. Then, having defined your budget, you can eliminate any companies that fall outside the range you’re comfortable with. You will now have a more compact list of options, which makes your job of choosing the right answering services provider a lot easier.