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You worked hard to find the right answering service, and now you’ve hired the perfect match. Your work is done, right?
If you want to maximize the success of your business relationship, there are a few more things to keep in mind. While you could dismiss these recommendations and assume your answering service will function fine regardless, it may not be the best move.
Follow these recommendations to get the most from your answering service:
Communicate Expectations: Let your answering service know what outcomes you want to achieve. This is important because without your direction, they could make wrong assumptions about what you expect. If you don’t tell them what you want, they may end up working hard to achieve an objective that doesn’t matter to you. Let them know what’s important, and they’ll work hard to meet your request.
Provide Protocols: Give your answering service specific details on how you want them to handle your calls and messages. Although telling them to, “just use your best judgment,” may seem wise and even empowering, it’s also fraught with problems. This is because one person’s decision may not match another person’s preference. Remember that your perspective is that of a business owner or manager, whereas answering service operators don’t share your level of specialized experience.
If you can’t define a specific set of protocols for how you want your answering service to handle the work they do for you, then you can’t hold them accountable for the results. It’s like asking them to shoot at a moving target. Missing the mark will be the most likely result.
Pursue A Long-Term Perspective: Some clients take their answering service for granted and will switch providers over trivial things. After all, there are options. However, changing answering services is time-consuming, and there’s little guarantee that your new one will provide what you seek. Instead, work with your answering service to fine-tune your instructions and give them time to master your account. If you’re loyal to them, they’ll be loyal to you.
Be Nice: As a client you quickly build a reputation with your answering service’s staff. They know who is patient and kind, as well as who loses their temper and yells. Although their goal is to provide excellent service to all clients regardless if they’re nice or not, they’ll be more apt to go the extra mile for some clients over others. Your goal is to be that client.
Say Thank You: Along with being nice is remembering to say an occasional, “thank you.” Yes, your answering service is merely doing the job you hired them to do, so your payment should be enough. However, an occasional “thank you” will help ingratiate you to them. It’s two simple words, but it’s words your answering service doesn’t hear often enough.
Pay On Time: Although the collections department at an answering service is separate from the operations department, most everyone knows which clients are behind. It’s human nature for people to work harder for clients who are nice, appreciative, and remit payment before the due date.
You don’t need to follow any of these recommendations with your answering service. However, if you do, the outcomes you enjoy from their work will be much better.
Richard L. Hutcherson is the director of operations for Answering Service One, a new kind of answering service that wants to become your number one resource to handle your communication needs. Contact Richard at 865-505-0456. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. Check out Answering Service One to see if they’re the right answering service solution for your business.