Any company can tell you that customer service — good customer service — is the key to success. However, one of the customer service areas that require more attention are telephone representatives. Almost 80% of consumers prefer to speak with customer service over the phone, and for many that’s a direct impression of your company — sometimes even the first impression. And if that’s a bad impression, it can be devastating to your business. Each year, U.S. companies are losing almost $41 billion due to poor customer service. Thus, it’s important to make sure your calls are being answered quickly and handled professionally, but hiring personal staff to answer calls — such as receptionists — can get expensive. One of the most popular and cost-effective methods that many companies are turning to today is hiring phone answering services. Here are some pros and cons to hiring call answering services:
- Cost: As briefly mentioned earlier, hiring telephone answering services can be much cheaper than hiring a full-time receptionist. Depending on how small your company is, this could be incredibly important, since it saves on both the salary and space of having somebody in your office.
- No missed calls: If you hire a full-time receptionist, there will be times when he or she isn’t there. Lunch and bathroom breaks, available scheduled hours, and days off are all factors to consider. There are many 24 hour answering services and after hours call services that will ensure that there will always be somebody available to answer the phone.
- Ability to focus elsewhere: Nonstop calls can detract from a company’s prime working hours. Not only are phone answering services able to answer those calls for you, but they are also able to filter and screen those calls so that the only ones you answer are the ones you want to.
- Not your staff: You may be able to train the staff at the answering company to answer calls how you want, but at the end of the day they still aren’t your staff, and they still don’t have intimate knowledge of your company and your product. Essentially, they’re trained to follow a certain script, but the customers aren’t — odds are good that they will be asked questions they don’t know how to answer.
- Confidentiality: Piggybacking off of the previous point, they aren’t your staff — therefore, you don’t have much control over who answers the phones. Those people, and their company, also have access to phone messages which may contain sensitive company information.
- Scripted calls may turn some customers off. There are two main elements to customer service that most customers look for: empathy and emotion. A heavily scripted call may eliminate that and make the customer feel like they aren’t being properly treated, or may make them feel like they’re talking to a robot.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of phone answering services. As with most decisions involving business, be sure not to rush in — take your time and carefully weigh all the pros and cons to decide if it fits your needs.