Doing business today without the assistance of an answering message service, also known as an answering service, is next to impossible. The answering message service of your choice may be automated, like an answering machine, or can be a bank of live operators at an offsite location. When callers reach a business without an answering message service, the experience can be very irritating. Customers usually do not want to call a business and reach just an answering machine or voicemail system. They want to speak to a live voice that will be able to answer their questions and assist them with their business needs. ‘Round-the-clock customer calls in a global market make it necessary for all kinds of companies and organizations to hire some form of answering message service. In order to respond to customer orders, client questions or solicitations, businesses need the right set of tools in order to be ready for the task. A professional answering message service is the most important item in your organization’s administrative support toolkit.
Choosing the right answering message service depends on the type of service your business needs. Most companies need a live operator answering their calls. Some type of software also needs to be present so that the operator answering the telephone call will be able to relay the correct information to your callers.
The most common form of answering message service comes in the form of a physical call center that offers live operators to answer your forwarded calls. Answering message service companies may also offer voicemail as well as the purchase of additional local or toll free telephone numbers for your business at an additional cost. Some answering message services also provide access to customized vanity toll free telephone numbers, depending on what number and letter combinations are available on the open market. These companies provide a variety of ways of delivering your messages to you, through email, fax and voicemail. Important, emergency or urgent calls can also be delivered in a method that you choose, including calling your designated contact telephone numbers or sending a page at any time, day or night. Increasingly, individual freelance agents will operate their own answering service out of the privacy of their own homes, and offer their virtual receptionist services for your off-hours support. Also becoming more common in the telephone support marketplace are software applications that virtually do almost all the work of answering your calls for you. These programs create a suite of voicemail options on the hard drive of a single computer connected to your telephone through a voice-capable modem. The software answers your calls, and offers your callers a number of interactive choices to direct their calls to the right individuals or areas of your company. The significant drawback of all-in-one telephony suite software application packages is that they are entirely dependent on computers or entire networks being online and functioning. If your computer encounters a problem that prevents the software from running, you experience a hard disk error or if your business experiences a power outage, then your calls are lost. Answering message services that feature live operators provide a nearly disaster-proof solution when your business encounters an electrical outage or severe computer problem. Many organizations purchase a software-based telephony solution, but also contract with a live answering message service to provide critical back-up and contingency support when something goes wrong.
The answering message service method that you choose for your office ultimately depends on your business needs and your budget. A quick search on the internet provides a list of many competing services who offer similar features with a wide variety of price points. Many of these services cater to a nationwide or even a global clientele. Some of these companies offer a more local accent to their service list. It’s important to choose an answering message service that reflects the image that you want your clients to hear on the other end of the telephone line. A service that projects courteous professionalism through their live operators not only will insure your business against caller attrition and lost business, but will help keep your business growing during off hours.
Ira Spere is a writer for EFLS .com where you will discover a wealth of resources on an answering message service and other related information.