If your business is considering a partnership with a telephone answering service, you may be debating between going with a local answering service company or a national answering service company. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and this blog can help you and your team determine which choice is best for your company and most importantly, your customers.
Benefits of a Local Answering Service
When doing business, most people like to work within their own neighborhoods. Working with a local answering service provide the following advantages:
- Spend money within your own community.
- Provide in-person training to your customer service representatives who will be answering your calls.
- Visit your answering service in person. You'll also be able to take a tour of the facilities and see if their work atmosphere and core values align with your company.
- Have the confidence that call agents will be familiar with your community. When a caller says they live on Feu Follet Road, your agent will be able to say it and spell it correctly without seeming unfamiliar with the area.
Disadvantages of a Local Answering Service
While the familiarity with local neighborhoods and convenice of such a close location may be appealing to small business owners, there are some major limitations to consider when choosing a local telephone answering service (TAS) to represent your company.
- Limited Industry Expertise: A local answering service will most likely have limited industry expertise. If you run an HVAC, plumbing, electrical, medical funeral, or oil & gas company, industry expertise may be a necessity for your after hours answering service.
The reason that local answering companies can't always provide the needed industry expertise is due to a lack of clients in that particular industry. For example, if a local answering service only has one HVAC client, the company and its agents will not spend enough time working with the HVAC client to gain familiarity and evenutally expertise in the industry.
This will become apparent with your callers when an agent is unfamiliar with certain industry terms, which could make your business seem less reliable. Remember, your live call agents are often the first impression a caller will have of your company!
- Cost: The cost of your telephone answering service will vary for a number of reasons. One of the most common reasons for pricing fluctuations is due to the location of your provider. If a local provider is located in a city with a higher cost of living, their prices will most likely be higher in order for them to pay employees a decent wage.
Another reason for differences in pricing is quality. Premium answering services will generally cost more than commodity answering services. A premium answering service will stay on a call longer to ensure accuracy and customer satisfaction.
- Reliability (Power Outages): The reliablity of your answering service should be an additional top priority when comparing answering service providers. Natural disasters, weather emergencies, and other major events can often result in power outages and office closures. If a natural disaster or weather emergency happens in your local area, your local call center will most likely be overwhelmed with increased call traffic. If a disaster reaches a certain level they may be without power themselves, which means that your calls will not be answered!
- Limited Software Expertise: Much like limited industry expertise, your local answering service can only have the expertise that your community allows. If they don't work with a number of customers who use certain software or CRMs, they won't have the familiarity or know-how to handle your business.
The Importance of US-Based Call Agents
When considering an answering service to represent your company, you should always ask if the TAS employes US-based customer service representatives. US-based representatives will most likely provide a better quality of call to your callers and customers and eliminate any confusion with unfamiliar accents.View this post on Instagram
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Benefits of a National Answering Service
- Expertise in a specific industry or software: National answering service are more likely to have expertise in a specific industry or software due to the varying types of clients in their market. As they answer for more companies, they are able to become familiar with industry specific terms and phrases.
This familiarity will allow for a smoother call between your provider's live call agent and your customer.
A national TAS will also be more likely to work with your industry specific software. For example, a national provider may be able to work with ServiceTitan or offer you API integration or CRM integration.
Tip: When determining the best telephone answering service provider for your business, be sure to probe with direct questions about your industry to find a level of experience and knowledge that you are comfortable with.
- Increased Reliablity: An answering service becomes most important when your company can't answer calls. Their presence is especially valuable during a weather emergency, power outage, or other disaster. A national answering service will most likely be far enough away from the situation to still provide service to your callers.
When choosing the best answering service for your company, always check their redundancy. You don't want a provider's unexpected downtime to have a negative impact on your business.
- Possible Lower Cost: Cost of services is directly affected by the cost of production. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, your answering service will pay its agents more, and as a result charge you more. Working with a national provider can help you lower costs, depending on your provider's geographical location.
- Higher Quality: With the wide variety of national answering services, you can choose the provider with the highest level of quality. The quality of your answering service is very important as it determines how your customers will be treated when they call.
A major component of your answering service's quality is the tone of voice that their call operators use. Read "How Tone of Voice Affects the Outcome of Telephone Calls" to learn more on the importance of tone of voice for a call service.
Disadvantages of a National Answering Service
- Lack of Familiarity With Local Area: The most common disadvantage to working with a national answering service as opposed to one within your own community is the lack of familiarity with your local area. As our owner Jamey Hopper said in the above YouTube video, cities usually have landmarks that are spelled one way, but pronounced another. This can confuse agents and irk local callers.
A simple solution to this issue is to identify those local landmarks with your national answering service provider. A provider who's goal is to satisfy you and your customers will be happy to learn correct pronunciations!
- Distance: While a national answering service may be the best solution for your buisness, the distance between your store and their office can be daunting. Working with a premium answering service can alleviate this stress. Regular check-ins with account management and customer support, whether they be via email, Zoom/Skype, or over the telephone, will allow for you and your provider to remain connected and ensure that all goals are aligned.
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There are six key elements for business owners to consider when deciding between a Commodity Service Provider or Premium Provider. Each of these elements has an impact on your company's bottom line, your staff, and your overall efficiency. - To learn more, check out our blog on http://Dexcomm.com (link in our description!) - #answeringservices #customerservice #customerservicetips #customerservicetraining #customerservicedoneright #phoneanswering #callcenter
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Essentially, whether you choose to partner with a local answering service that's just a few miles from your own location or a national answering service that is in a completely different region of the country, only one thing is of ultimate importance: their quality.
Your answering service partner should be answering your calls promptly, professionally, and with compassion. When taking messages, they should be accurate and thorough. Above all, they should compliment your company by aligning with your core values and pleasing your callers.
- I'm on the fence about a new answering service partner!
Do you have an answering service partner in mind, but you want to test them out first? Read "3 Things to Consider When Testing Out an Answering Service" to guarantee that the answering service you choose will provide the best service to your callers.
- I'm considering switching answering service providers.
Do you currently have an answering service but you aren't sure if they are the right fit for your company? Take a minute to read "How to Analyze Your Current Answering Service Provider". This article contains 7 questions (and one simple solution) that you should consider when determining the value of your local phone answering service.