A good answering service should serve as an addition to your business. They will be the first impression that callers have of your company. So, you want to guarantee that you find and partner with the best answering service for your company.
If you would like more guidance on how to find an HVAC or any home service answerings service, read our article, "How to find the Best HVAC Answering Service For Your Company".
After reading reviews, speaking with referrals, and analyzing the sales process, it is best to test an answering service before you make your final business decision.
If you aren't sure how to go about testing a answering service company, you can ask the sales member who has been helping you throughout your buying process.
There are certain ways an answering service can offer you a “test” scenario.
The answering service can provide you with a simulated number or give you the names of a few clients so that you can call yourself and see how they do in a live environment.
With either of these options, you will be given an oppurtunity to see what your callers will experience when engaging with the operators at this answering service.
While making the test call, take note of the following elements:
- How long does the phone ring?
- Is the staff professional and courteous?
- Do they confirm information so that you know you’re going to get accurate names of your customers and their addresses?
These three components should be your top concerns when it comes to determining if an answering service is right for your business.
1. How Long Does the Phone Ring?
The number of rings that your callers hear will have a huge impact on the outcome of their call.
The standard in the telephone answering industry is to answer a call after three rings. Three rings equates to about ten seconds of wait time. After that, callers become restless and impatient.
If an operator does answer, say on the sixth or seven ring, the caller will have been waiting for thirty seconds. While some callers won't have an issue with this, it could be a problem for others. These callers may begin their call irritated, and have a harder time finding a solution to their issue that prompted the call.
With a long ring time, some callers will hang up before the operator is even able to answer. Because these callers have lost their patience with your company, they have moved on to your competition. If you are in an industry where your callers are potential customers, this can be very damaging to your business.
2. Is the Staff Professional and Courteous?
The staff of an answering service will often be the very first impression that your callers will have of your company. With this in mind, you want to be sure that the operators interacting with your customers are able to represent you in a courteous and professional way that aligns with your company's values.
In certain industries, compassion is a key trait that you should look for in your operators as well.
A compassionate operator will:
- HVAC/Plumbing/Electrical Industry: Make the customer feel heard. Callers trying to reach a plumber or contractor may be calling due to an emergency in their home. They are most likely stressed, and worrysome. A compassionate operator will hear their emotion, and handle the call with the care that you would yourself. If your operator was not compassionate, your caller could feel as though their issue didn't matter, and they may hang up to find a more personable company.
- Medical Industry: Listen to the caller. Callers trying to reach their doctor's office are most likely calling for an issue related to their health. Whether it be concerning an upcoming surgery, or scheduling an appointment, your caller's issue requires attention and compassion. A compassionate operator will respect your caller in the same manner that you or your in-house staff would.
- Funeral Home Industry: Care for the Caller. Callers trying to reach your funeral home are most likely calling after handling the passing of a loved one. These callers are grieving and must have an operator that is calm, respectful, and compassionate. These callers do not need to be rushed off the phone or given an unprofessional experience.
Note: Many answering service companies will not have compassionate operators. Compassionate operators are more likely to be employed by a premium answering service like Dexcomm over a commodity one.
3. Do They Confirm Information To Guarantee Accuracy?
Accuracy from a call operator is essential. For many industries, callers are leads or potential customers. A person calling may be scheduling a consultation, booking an appointment, or scheduling a service.
If an operator is inaccurate in their message taking, you could lose a customer. A misspelled name, wrong address, or incorrect phone number could prevent your company from reaching out to the caller. It could also harm your professional reputation.
When testing your answering service, be sure to check and see if the operator confirms the information that your share with them, the success of your business depends on it!
Partnering with an answering service should serve as an addition to your business. Because they will have such an impact on your reputation and callers, be sure to test out an answering service before choosing your partner. When testing, it is good to consider the length of ring time, the level of profesionalism from the staff, and accuracy from the operators.
If you are able to find an answering service that aligns with these three factors in a way that aligns with your company's core values, you and your company are on track to have a succesful partnership.