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You’ve taken time to select the ideal answering service. Now make sure you’re the ideal client. Though you may not see this as a necessary step, you’ll want to do your part to ensure your relationship with your new answering service is a success. Failure to do so may unnecessarily force you to search for another answering service. And it might not be your answering service’s fault.
Here are the steps to take to be the perfect answering service client:
Communicate Your Expectations: The first step is to let your answering service know the outcomes you want to achieve from the work they do for you. A big disconnect occurs when a client assumes one thing but the answering service thinks they should do something else. This happens too often. Many answering service clients don’t take the time to communicate what they expect their answering service to do for them. Don’t leave this to chance. Else, you’ll surely be disappointed.
Keep Them Informed: With the proper expectations set with your answering service, you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong! Things change. It’s critical to keep your answering service informed of new developments. If you change your hours of operation, let them know. When you hire new staff—or let staff go—make sure your answering service is aware of it. Are you offering a new product or launching a new marketing campaign? Keep your answering service in the loop.
An uninformed answering service is handicapped and struggles to serve you with excellence. You’ll be disappointed, and they’ll be frustrated. Don’t let this happen. Keep them up to date.
Remain Calm: Though answering services strive to make each call a success, no one is perfect. Mistakes happen. Though you should never dismiss a critical error and internalize it, it does help when you can share your concerns with your answering service without raising your voice or making threats.
You don’t need to yell to get your point across. They already feel bad enough that they let you down, and they want to make sure it won’t happen again. Getting excited accomplishes nothing.
Pay On Time: Make sure you remit your answering service bill on time, every time. As a bonus don’t wait to the last minute, but pay early. They’ll recognize that and appreciate you. They’re also aware, painfully so, of who doesn’t pay their bill on time. Even though this is a collection issue and separate from your answering service’s operations department, word of your problems paying your bill will eventually be known by all. Short of them turning off your service, this won’t affect the quality of their work, but it sure will be embarrassing. Pay on time.
Say Thank You: Just as you’re encouraged to let your answering service know when they fall short of your expectations, you’re also encouraged to show your appreciation to them. Say “thank you” whenever possible. Let them know when they do a good job. Commend them when they go beyond your expectations. A kind word offered will be repeated often, and your answering service staff will love you for it.
Don’t treat your answering service like a commodity. Instead, respect them as a valued member of your team. After all, they’re often the ones who make the first impression on your callers and prospective customers. In today’s competitive environment, you want everything working in your favor, and your answering service is on the front line to make this happen.
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.