If you’re looking to outsource your calls, or simply get a little support during your busiest times, you may be on the search for a telephone answering service. Just like most services out there, there’s a huge range to search through from the husband-and-wife team to the offshore call centres that employ hundreds of call agents. It’s important to really whittle down exactly what you need and would like from your telephone answering service; what are you looking to achieve? Keep this in mind when you’re looking at company websites and making any initial enquires. Don’t be lured in by a promise of low prices if it means that your service will be compromised and you wont be getting the outcome you’re looking for. Remember that different businesses have different call needs, for example a small family business may be looking for a more personal service from a smaller team of call agents who know their business, and even their regular customers. This type of service may come with a slightly higher price tag, but to a business built on reputation and customer service, it would be well worth it. Whereas a very large company may receive a large volume of calls and just be focused on keeping costs down with less or little focus on personal service.
Is a Call Centre service right for you?
Only recently the likes of Time Warner, Dell and Capital One admitted that they had outsourced all of their call operations offshore as it proved to be far more cost effective for them. If it works for them, it may well work for you, you just need to be fully aware of where and how your calls are being answered before handing them over to a call centre.
The cons of using a call centre
Be sure that you really know where in the world your calls are being answered. Low cost services may be a sign that the call centre is based outside of the UK. Don’t assume that a UK head office means that the call agents answering your calls are necessarily based there. If your calls will be answered abroad, bear in mind that there may be some linguistic barriers caused by accent and culture that potentially make clear communication with your customers more troublesome.
Limited or no knowledge of your business
Call centres can have hundreds of call agents, and the reduced prices you pay result in reduced training. Any one of their vast bank of staff could answer your call, and it’s unrealistic to think that each member of the team will be familiar with your business or even what products or services you provide. They will have no knowledge of your important or repeat customers, and unable to answer even basic questions about your business making it clear to the caller that their call has not been answered in-house.
Less control over how your calls are answered
With low prices charged by call centres often comes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model whereby your calls will be answered to a set template by the call agent. Smaller telephone answering services allow you to form your own script which tells the call agent how you’d like your callers to be greeted., the questions you’d like asked and the information you’d like collected. Your script can be shaped to fit your business type and your customer service identity. It can be repeatedly charged as your business grows or as your needs change. Be aware that call centres may not offer you this freedom, and you may have little control over how even the most basic information is collected.
You and your business will be anonymous
It’s unlikely that with so many clients using a call centre that you’ll be assigned an account manager, or that any member of the management team will be familiar with your business. This may cause problems when resolving any concerns or enquiries regarding your account or how your calls are being handled.
All of the above lead to a slightly lower level of basic customer service. Remember that the lower cost of your service is reflected in the wages paid to call agents. There may be little or no incentive for call agents to offer good customer service to your callers. Call centre agents have high rates of burnout and turnover (Ameyo).
Remember that making a phone call can be your potential customer’s first interaction with you, and the company answering that call can make you a new customer or taint your customer service reputation. It’s not a minefield if you put a little time and consideration into choosing your telephone answering provider by deciding what you really need from the service.
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