Most answering service clients have someone who’s on call. In some cases the on-call person is there for those rare situations that can’t wait until the next business day. However, for other companies, having on-call staff is a regular part of their business operation. Regardless if your on-call staff is contacted infrequently or often, it’s critical for your answering service to know who to reach and how to best reach them.
If they don’t have this information, they’ll make the best determination they can based on the latest information you provided. In many cases this works, but in some instances it doesn’t. However, before you go blaming your answering service for not following your protocols, make sure you gave them the right information in the first place. Here are some things to check.
Some companies have simple on call procedures and others follow more involved scenarios. Regardless of the degree of complexity of your on-call protocols, make sure your answering service knows who your primary on-call person is. This is the first key to on-call success.
It’s always wise to have a plan B. Though you expect your primary on-call person to always be available and reachable, sometimes problems occur. For these scenarios, it’s wise to have a designated person serve as a backup on-call resource. Having a backup is also helpful in case an urgent call comes in and the primary on-call person is already working with another customer.
One sure way to frustrate on-call staff is to contact them for situations that don’t warrant their time. This irritates them, adds to their after-hours workload, and can build mistrust between them and the answering service. Yet there’s no reason for this to occur. Carefully spell out the situations for when your answering service should contact your on-call staff. Make sure your on-call staff is aware of these parameters so that everyone is working from the same set of rules.
Last, but also critical, is how to reach each one of your on-call employees. Some people prefer phone calls while others want a text message. For more detailed communications email is an option. Find out the preferences for each on-call person. Then communicate this to your answering service. Start with the employee’s preferred contact method, along with a backup option. But also include other ways of reaching them, just in case. Without this information, your answering service will need to decide on their own how to reach the on-call person, which may not be in line with their preferences. Save everyone frustration by letting your answering service know the best ways to reach each one of your on-call employees.
Dealing with on-call situations is something your answering service is familiar with and excels at handling. However, to maximize their success in doing so, make sure they’re armed with up-to-date and accurate information. Make sure they know who’s on-call, who’s on backup, and when they should reach someone after hours. It’s also critical that your answering service knows the preferred ways to reach each one of your employees. Armed with this information, your answering service will handle your on-call scenarios with excellence, delighting your customers while not frustrating your staff in the process.
With a decades-long record of offering telephone answering service to the northwest region and across the United States, Redding Answering Service is committed to providing advanced, first-rate telephone answering service to your company. Let us help you maximize your communication effectiveness—at a cost-effective price—to drive bottom-line results. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer who covers the answering service industry.