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Regardless of what type of business you’re in, maintaining always-available communication with customers and callers is essential. A key partner in making this happen, especially outside of regular business hours, is your answering service. Though most business managers understand the cost-benefit of this, sometimes it becomes necessary to cut expenses.
Though arguably it’s not wise to seek to save a few dollars a day on your bill, sometimes this becomes necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some things you should consider:
Streamline Instructions: Take some time to look at the instructions you’ve given your answering service and review what you expect them to do. Over time it’s typical that these instructions mushroom out of control and become something far greater than what you ever intended. The more involved your instructions, the longer it will take their staff to follow your directives. And since most providers charge, either directly or indirectly, by the amount of time they spend working for you, making your expectations simpler will lower your bill.
Simplify Protocols: A related area is the protocols you’ve established with your answering service. This may relate to on-call scenarios, emergency calls, or sales inquiries. Although their employees are adept at dealing with complex situations, with greater complexity comes greater effort, along with a higher price tag.
For example, consider your on-call situation. Does your answering service have difficulty reaching an on-call person? If so, you can lower your bill simply by getting your own on-call staff to respond quicker. A related issue is managing who is on call and how to reach the appropriate person. Most service providers have an online portal that allows you to enter this information yourself and change it whenever needed. This is not only efficient for your answering service, but it helps hold down their cost in serving you, because they won’t have to manage your on-call schedule for you.
Cancel Nonessential Features: When you’re looking to streamline the instructions you give your answering service, also consider the features they provide to you. These, too, can morph over time with new items added, while old items go unused. If you no longer use a feature they charge for, you can cancel it and save money without any impact to the overall level of assistance they provide.
Mix Automation With Live People: A key reason for having an answering service is because it provides the personal touch your customers and callers appreciate. You likely use live phone support because voicemail doesn’t do the job you need it to do or because your customers hate it. However, that doesn’t mean all automation is bad. Sometimes a little bit of technology can supplement the work your answering service staff does for you. This can maintain the personal touch of a human being but do so at a lower cost.
Though most businesses view their answering service bills as an incredible bargain, especially when compared to what it would cost to do things in-house, some managers may need to save some money. These four tips will help do just that.
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.