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Most everyone knows what an answering service does. They answer phone calls and take messages. While correct, answering services also do much more. And most people don’t know that.
Aside from taking messages, here are five more things that today’s answering services can do for you:
1) Take Phone Orders: While answering services are great at taking messages, they can also take orders over the phone for products, services, and literature. Today’s leading answering services have advanced technology in place to handle these situations with ease.
Answering services can process sophisticated orders that include quality discounts, special promotions, upsells, and cross sells. They can calculate shipping and handling charges, along with sales tax. They can even charge callers’ credit cards using your merchant number. And if you outsource distribution, they can send orders directly to the warehouse for processing.
2) Schedule Appointments: Answering services can also schedule appointments for you. Just as they have sophisticated software to handle phone orders, they have other software to take appointments. This highly customizable solution can meet most any need: Schedule people; schedule resources. Establish variable length appointments depending on the procedure. Block out time for breaks and meals.
Plus, you and they can work off the same schedule using secure online access. No more double booking or rekeying information. And if you have a cancellation in your office, your answering service will know it right away and can work to fill it.
3) Give Information to Callers: Some callers don’t want to leave a message, place an order, or schedule an appointment. They seek information. When will their order be shipped? How do you handle returns? Why was their credit card charged? And so on.
Your answering service can provide information your callers seek. Let your answering service know the answers to common questions or give them secure access into your databases to look up answers. There’s no need for your staff to do this, when your answering service can.
4) Make Calls: Though answering services mostly answer calls, they also make calls. They can call people to remind them of appointments or update them on order status.
Need an accurate count for your party? Give your answering service your invite list and they’ll make RSVP calls to confirm. They can also place wellness calls to shut-ins, verification calls to security guards, and safety calls to personnel working in hazardous conditions. If you have calls to make, give your answering service a list and let them make the calls for you.
5) Handle Customer Service: Some people who call a phone number want help to solve a problem and they want it right away. Maybe the online FAQs or self-service options didn’t help or perhaps they didn’t look. They pick of the phone and dial your number.
Answering services can handle basic customer service queries, sometimes called first-level help desk (level 1 support). The majority of customer service inquiries often fit into a handful of common scenarios. Find out what those are, let your answering service know, and they’ll handle them for you. For tougher questions that don’t fit the majority of cases, your answering service can forward the call to your technical team or escalate it, according to your protocol.
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.