Tips Archives | Redding Answering Service

Category Archives: Tips

Use a Telephone Answering Service to Increase Availability

Most Businesses Are Only Open Part of the Time Their Customers Expect

What are your business hours? Is it 9-to-5, Monday through Friday? Or you might open at eight in the morning and even add Saturday mornings to your schedule. At best this is fifty hours a week. However, a week has 168 hours, which means you’re closed much more than you’re open.

At one time customers accepted this as normal, but those days are gone. Now customers expect you to be open when it’s convenient for them, not what works best for you. If they want to reach you before their workday starts or after it ends, you better be available for them. If they want to contact you late in the evening, on weekends, or even in the wee hours of the morning, you better be there for them. Else they’ll go to someone else who is available.

It’s costly to staff your business to be open additional hours. It’s not cost-effective. That’s where a telephone answering service comes in. An answering service allows you to extend your hours and increase your availability.

Open Earlier

An answering service can answer your phone calls prior to you opening your business for the day. As far as callers are concerned this allows you to open early. You’re there for them when they want to call. This makes them happy, builds trust, and helps ensure their repeated business.

Stay Open Later

In addition to allowing you to effectively open earlier, a telephone answering service can answer your calls after you close. Again, this lets you stay open later in the eyes of your callers. This is what they want. And with a telephone answering service, this is what you provide.

Be Available Evenings, Weekends, and Holidays

With an answering service you can answer your customers’ phone calls before you open and after you close each day. Extending this concept around-the-clock allows you to be open to receive their calls on evenings, weekends, and even holidays. And who among your employees wants to work on a holiday? They don’t, but your answering service has you covered.

Provide 24/7 Access

Combining these coverage outcomes results in around-the-clock telephone access for your customers, callers, and prospects. Being available 24/7 is what most people today expect of the companies they do business with. And with an answering service, this is what you can provide.

Conclusion

With a telephone answering service, you can be open to receive people’s calls 24/7, meeting a critical expectation in today’s marketplace. And what’s this 24/7 availability cost? Surprisingly little.

For most business applications, a telephone answering service can provide this around-the-clock access for a small fraction of what it would take to hire just one part-time employee. It’s too good of a bargain to pass up.

 

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.

Use a Telephone Answering Service to Save Money

Save Money When You Outsource Telephone Reception Work to an Answering Service

Hiring, training, and managing staff is a huge expense for every company. That’s why an increasing trend is to outsource work whenever possible. Not only does outsourcing reduce human resource hassles and limit business employee liabilities, but it’s also a smart way to save money. One great way to save money is to outsource your telephone reception duties to a telephone answering service.

Here are some ways you can save money when you hire an answering service.

Save Money as Your Business Grows

As your business expands, your phone will ring more often. That’s the good news. The bad news is having someone available to answer those calls, both during business hours and after hours. When your business was small, you were able to handle these business-hour calls with existing staff. Now you’ve grown to a point that what used to work no longer does. But instead of hiring an expensive in-house receptionist to handle this responsibility, save money when you outsource your ringing phone to your answering service.

Save Money When It’s Time to Right Size

Sometimes growing businesses expand too fast and need to make staff adjustments to better align their infrastructure with their customers’ needs. Business managers politely call this rightsizing, but the reality means that you’ll need to let some people go. Hopefully your business will never reach a point where you need to right size, but if it does, look at outsourcing telephone reception duties to an answering service to save money. The cost savings is huge, turning a several thousand dollar a month employment package for one employee into a couple hundred dollars a month invoice from your telephone answering service.

Save Money When You Reorganize

Another common growth issue is when companies need to reposition their personnel to better handle the needs of customers and appropriately adjust staffing levels in various departments. One easy area to consider is your telephone receptionist. Save money by outsourcing telephone calls to an answering service, and move your receptionist into another area, such as customer service, billing and collections, or sales and marketing. Not only does this allow you to redeploy a valued employee where they are more needed, but you can save money in the process.

Conclusion

Outsourcing telephone calls to an answering service is a great way to save money as your business grows, if you need to right size, or for a company-wide reorganization.

 

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.

Don’t Handicap Your Telephone Answering Service

Saving a Few Bucks on Your Answering Service Bill Could Hurt Your Customer Service

When compared to the cost of hiring staff to do it in-house, using a telephone answering service may be one of the best bargains available—anywhere. For a fraction of the cost of one full-time equivalent (FTE), your answering service can handle more calls, offer around-the-clock coverage, and provide professional customer service to your callers and customers.

Given that an answering service is such a great deal, which offers sought-after outcomes, why would anyone try to shave a few cents a day off their monthly answering service bill? Yet some business managers, with laser-like focus on the bottom line, overlook the positive customer service benefits that an answering service provides.

The unfortunate outcome of their penny-pinching ways is that to save a few dollars, they end up keeping their answering service from doing their best work, to the best of their ability. It’s like asking someone to type with one hand. They can do it, but it’s not efficient, and the results aren’t good.

Automation Isn’t the Answer

One common mistake that budget-conscious managers make is replacing the professional and personal service offered by real people with impersonal computer automation. Yes, this could save a few dollars a month on their answering service bill, but they’ll irritate all their customers in the process.

Most people don’t want to interact with technology. That’s why they picked up the phone in the first place. They seek a real person to help them out and address their concern. Listening to a recording and pressing buttons seldom accomplishes the results they seek.

Cutting Hours Doesn’t Help

Another shortsighted approach is to scale back the number of hours that you’re answering service answers your phone each day. Yes, this reduces the number of calls they answer and therefore lowers your answering service bill. However, it will also reduce the number of people who receive the help they want when they want it.

If they call your company and can’t reach a person, they’ll hang up. But they won’t call back during regular business hours. Instead they’ll start calling your competitors until someone does answer.

Great, you save a few dollars on your answering service bill and lost a customer in the process. That doesn’t make financial sense.

Conclusion

Business managers sometimes make the mistake of viewing their answering service as an expense. Instead it’s an investment. It’s an investment in serving your customers, turning prospects into customers, and keeping the customers you have. For most businesses gaining one new customer or keeping an existing one is worth far more than the cost of an answering service for a whole month, maybe even for a whole year.

As the old saying goes, “Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” This goes for your answering service bill too.

 

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.

Remember to Let Your Answering Service Know Who’s On Call

To Successfully Handle Your On-Call Messages, Your Answering Service Needs the Correct Information

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.

Primary On-Call Staff

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.

Backup On-Call Staff

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.

When to Reach On-Call Staff

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.

How to Reach On-Call Staff

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.

Summary

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.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As we transition into a new year at Redding Answering Service, we want to wish you a successful and prosperous one.

May this year be your best year yet.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

From our workplace family at Redding Answering Service, we want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

May you have a joyous holiday with family and friends.

Document Your Call Forwarding Instructions

Make Sure Everyone in Your Office Can Easily Turn On and Off Call Forwarding

Most answering service clients use call forwarding to route their calls to their service. Call forwarding is a smart, effective, and reliable method to send your calls to your answering service whenever you want them to answer your phone.

Call Forwarding Is Fast and Simple

Call forwarding is also easy to use. It only takes a few seconds to activate call forwarding when you leave your office in the evening. And it takes even less time to deactivate call forwarding when you arrive in the morning.

The people who regularly turn on and off call forwarding learn to do it without even thinking. However, what happens if the person who regularly does this isn’t available? It may not be so quick or so easy for someone else to figure out. And this is especially true if your activation and deactivation process requires an extra step or two that the phone company’s standard instructions don’t cover.

Write Out Call Forwarding Instructions

Therefore you need to write down the steps to activate and deactivate call forwarding. Once you’ve done this, ask someone who’s never done it before to see if they can follow the written steps to turn on and then turn off call forwarding, without any prompting or assistance.

Based on that experience, fine-tune the instructions. Then repeat this process until you have it perfect. Now anyone in your office can easily follow the instructions to successfully activate and deactivate call forwarding.

Post Call Forwarding Instructions by Your Phone

Now that you have a set of can’t-miss steps to activate and deactivate call forwarding, prominently post this procedure next to your primary telephone in the office. Don’t leave this piece of paper laying loose on the desk, stuffed into a folder, or filed in the operations manual. Fasten it to your phone or right above it. Bonus points if you laminate it. This will make it look more important and less likely for someone to accidently throw it away.

Prepare for Holidays, Vacations, and Absences

Just because one person regularly handles activating call forwarding each evening and deactivating call forwarding each morning, doesn’t mean they’re always going to be available to do it. You may even have a backup person to handle this when the primary person isn’t there.

But what happens when neither one of them are in the office? During holidays, vacations, and special employee schedules, you’ll run into times when the people who’ve mastered call forwarding aren’t around to do it. That’s why we’ve gone through these steps to be prepared.

Conclusion

It may seem like a hassle to write out your call forwarding instructions and post it by the phone. But you’ll be glad you have it when it’s time to go home in the evening and there’s no one there who’s ever turned on call forwarding. Take these steps now, and save yourself aggravation later.

 

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.

When Can Your Answering Service Answer Your Calls?

Select an Answering Service That Provides Scheduling Flexibility

Telephone answering services answer your phone calls when you’re not available to do it yourself. There are variations in what this looks like, with clients picking the coverage plan that best applies to their situation. However, circumstances change, and you might need a different level of coverage.

Make sure your answering service can quickly adjust to accommodate your changing needs whenever that occurs. Here are some common answering service coverage options.

Afterhours Answering Service Coverage

When we think of a telephone answering service, our first consideration usually goes to afterhours answering service coverage. That is, when your office is closed, the answering service answers the phone for you. This includes evenings, weekends, and holidays. For many businesses, after hours coverage serves as the entry point for using an answering service. Some businesses remain in this mode for a long time, while others supplement after-hours coverage with other phone answering options.

Overflow Answering Service Coverage

Phone calls seldom arrive at a regular, easy-to-handle pace. Instead they seem to come in batches. You might go a half an hour with no phone calls, and then two come in at once, closely followed by a third. This need to juggle simultaneous calls keeps a single receptionist hopping—for a couple of minutes. Sometimes, if too many calls come in on top of each other, a lone receptionist can’t get them all, and some people hang up in frustration.

This is where an answering service can help. They can take those extra calls for you. Let’s say your receptionist can handle up to two calls at a time, but when there’s three or more, your answering service can get those. And since your answering service has multiple people working every shift, accommodating multiple simultaneous calls is much easier for them to deal with.

Answering Service Coverage as Needed

A third option is on-demand coverage. This means that your answering service isn’t regularly scheduled to answer your calls, but when you need them to, they’re available. This works great for entrepreneurs and small companies. For example, if you’re the only one in the office and need to step out, just forward your phone lines to your answering service. They’ll take care of your calls until you return and turn off call forwarding.

24/7 Answering Service Coverage

Some companies, however, want their answering service to answer every call for them, around-the-clock. This includes after office hours and during office hours. In these cases, the answering service answers their calls 24/7. This frees up your staff to focus on other things, without the interruption of a ringing telephone.

Application

With these options, many answering services offer their clients scheduling flexibility, with afterhours answering service coverage, overflow coverage, as needed coverage, and 24/7 coverage. Choose the scenario that best fits your business, but make sure your answering service will allow you to switch to a different coverage option without hassle and without delay when you need to.

This is because someday, you will need to change your answering service coverage. Make sure your answering service can change with you.

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.

Answering Service Investment: Treat Your Answering Service as an Investment, Not an expense

How You View Your Answering Service Plays a Part in the Outcomes You Enjoy

How do you view your answering service? Do you view them as a valued partner or an adversary? Some people view their answering service as an investment and others view it as an expense.

Answering service investment or answering service expense? Which one do you see?

An Expense Is a Cost You Want to Control

When you view your answering service as an expense, it becomes a cost to control. Taken to an extreme, cost-cutting efforts end up rendering your answering service ineffective or eliminating them altogether. Though this may save a couple dollars a day on your income statement, it can cost many times that amount in terms of angry customers, disenfranchised buyers, and lost business.

Don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish when it comes to your answering service. But that’s what happens when you view them as an expense. This causes you to lose sight of the tremendous value they provide to your company’s operations and more importantly to your customers and prospects.

If money is all you look at, then eliminate your answering service and replace it with voicemail. An even more extreme solution is to not answer your phone at all. That cuts your phone-answering cost down to zero, but no one would really do that.

An Investment Provides a Return

However, when you view your answering service as an investment, you change your perspective from controlling costs to maximizing your return on investment (ROI). An answering service investment provides a smart ROI.

For example, one after-hours call answered by a telephone professional at your answering service can result in a new sale that you would have otherwise missed. That sale could conceivably provide enough profit to pay for your answering service for a whole month—even more, perhaps a year. Yet one sale is seldom only one sale. An initial sale usually results in additional sales. Consider the lifetime value of a customer. One call answered by your answering service produces the lifetime value of a customer. That’s a huge ROI from a wise answering service investment.

Or what about a frustrated customer who calls your answering service at 3 a.m. prepared to unleash their flurry at a mistake your company made. They expected to leave a voicemail message, but the gentle voice of your answering service rep caught them off guard. Their invective evaporated, and they were able to explain their frustration without yelling. Then your answering service rep resolved the problem, turning a lost customer into a kept customer. That’s another great ROI and a valuable answering service investment.

Application

Reject the idea of your answering service as a cost, an expense to control. Then it will emerge as an answering service investment, one that provides one of the most significant ROIs you’ll ever encounter. Look for ways to calculate the ROI of your answering service investment, and the amazing results will astound you.

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.

When Have You Last Thanked Your Answering Service?

Answering Service Staff Are Real People Who Deserve Appreciation

This isn’t a post to fish for compliments, but it is an encouragement for you to not overlook all the great work your telephone answering service does for you. If you appreciate their work, take time to let them know. When appropriate, be sure to thank your answering service. A simple thank you goes a long way.

Here are some areas to consider.

Operators

A telephone answering service employee—sometimes called an operator or customer service representative—works tirelessly on your behalf. On each phone call, they strive to do their best, representing your company in the best possible way and serving your customers and callers with excellence.

Between the work they do for you and their other clients, they can take over one hundred calls in one shift. That’s a lot of work and a lot of interactions. They derive satisfaction from knowing that they do their job well and provide value to you and your callers on each call.

Customer Service

When you need to make changes to your account with your answering service or check on a call, you contact the customer service department. They configure your account to meet your expectations, track down the details of a call, and provide you with additional information when you need it.

These are time-consuming activities that form the backbone of the service you receive. Again, the staff in the customer service department takes pride in the work they do. On each one of your calls or emails, they strive to meet your request to the best of their ability. Their work provides the foundation for the frontline staff to deliver great customer experiences to your callers.

Billing

A third element of your answering service is the billing department. They generate invoices, receive payments, and contact clients who are past due. They don’t like making collection calls and wish there was no need to do so. If you contact them, it’s usually because you don’t understand an invoice or think there might be an error. Keep in mind that 99.9 percent of the time, the invoices are correct, with the billing department striving to hit 100 percent.

Management

In addition to operators, the customer service team, and the billing department, an answering service has various managerial positions. There are shift supervisors, training managers, scheduling coordinators, and an operations manager. In addition, there are upper management positions to coordinate this and make sure things work together as seamlessly as possible.

Summary

A successful answering service has many people working together to provide you with excellent service for you and your customers. Most of the time, everything goes as expected, and only occasionally is there a hick up that causes momentary disappointment. Don’t let one small oops overshadow hundreds of positive, outstanding interactions.

And that’s something to be thankful for.

 

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.