Are you looking for a way to improve your business’s customer service? Do you want to be able to answer phone calls from customers in a more timely and professional manner? An answering service could be just what you need!

Many types of answering services are available, each with its benefits. In this blog post, we’ll look at the different types of answering services, how they work, and some of the businesses that use them, so let me shed some light on the answering service and how it can energize business growth.

What is an answering service?

So, what is an answering service? In a nutshell, it’s a service where live operators answer phone calls and take messages for businesses. This can be very helpful for companies that need someone to answer the phone during off hours or when they are busy with other tasks.

It can also be helpful for people who are expecting important calls but may not be able to answer the phone themselves. Answering services can also provide other services such as an auto attendant, voicemail, and call forwarding.

Answering service operator smiling while taking a call

What are the different types of professional answering services?

There are a few different types of professional answering services.

1. Inbound call center services

Inbound call center services are designed to handle a high volume of inbound calls from customers. These services can help businesses to improve customer satisfaction by providing prompt and professional customer service. Inbound call center services can also help companies to save money by reducing the need for customer service staff.

2. Outbound call center services

Outbound call center services are designed to handle a high volume of outbound calls from businesses. These services can help companies to improve sales and customer retention by making follow-up calls to customers. Outbound call center services can also help businesses to save money by reducing the need for sales staff.

3. Virtual receptionist services

Virtual receptionists provide professional answering and customer service for businesses. They function as an offsite, third-party receptionist to man the phones and function much like a receptionist in a traditional office setting. These services can help companies to improve their image and reputation by providing a friendly and helpful voice for customers. Virtual receptionist services can also help businesses to save money by eliminating the need for a physical receptionist.

Smiling virtual receptionist wearing headset

4. Automated answering service:

An automated answering service is a system that responds to telephone calls without human intervention. The procedure typically uses pre-recorded audio messages to provide information or give instructions to callers and can be programmed to handle various tasks. Businesses often use automated answering services to save money on customer service costs, eliminating the need to pay human operators. In addition, automated systems can provide a higher level of service than humans, as they can be programmed to offer 24/7 coverage and deal with large volumes of calls without getting tired.

However, some people find automated systems challenging and prefer to deal with human operators.

5. Telephone answering service

A telephone answering service is a call center that enables businesses to outsource their customer service and telecommunication needs. The service provides live operators who can answer customer calls, take messages, and provide other basic information. In some cases, the answering service may offer more specialized services such as order taking, appointment scheduling, and technical support.

Telephone answering services are an increasingly popular option for small businesses that lack the resources to maintain a full-time customer service team. The services can be customized to meet the specific needs of each business, and they provide a cost-effective way to improve customer satisfaction.

6. Live chat answering service

Live chat services provide customer service and support via live chat. These services can help businesses to improve customer satisfaction by providing prompt and professional customer service. Live chat services can also help businesses to save money by reducing the need for customer service staff.

7. Email support services

Email support services are designed to provide customer service and support via email. These services can help businesses to improve customer satisfaction by providing prompt and professional customer service. Email support services can also help businesses to save money by reducing the need for customer service staff.

How Does an Answering Service Work?

Let’s talk about how answering service works.

Since the days when phone operators used to connect calls using switchboards, answering services have come a long way.

Today, advanced telephone systems and computer technology allow answering services to provide a wide range of features and services to their clients.

When a call comes into an answering service, it is typically routed to an operator who will then ask the caller for their name and the nature of their call. The operator will then enter this information into the system, searching for a matching record in the client’s database. The operator will connect the caller to the appropriate party if a match is found. If there is no match, the operator will take a message and forward it to the client via email or text message.

Answering services can be customized to meet the specific needs of each client. For example, some businesses may prefer that all calls be answered by a live operator, while others may only need an operator available during certain hours. Additionally, clients can specify how they would like messages to be delivered and how they would like calls to be handled if no one is available to take them. By offering these customized options, answering services can be invaluable to businesses of all sizes.

What type of businesses use answering services?

Businesses of all sizes can save time and money by utilizing an answering service. They’re perfect for businesses with limited resources or who need 24-hour support. When choosing an answering service, you should think about what kinds of services they offer. Marketing, customer service, and sales calls are some of the most popular services.

  1. Small businesses- While small businesses may not get as many phone calls as larger businesses, they can still benefit from an answering service. Answering services can help screen calls, take messages, and even make appointments so that you can focus on running your business.
  2. Service businesses- Such as HVAC companies or plumbers, often get a lot of calls outside of normal business hours. An answering service can help take calls after hours and schedule appointments for a time that is convenient for both the customer and the business.
  3. Growing and transitioning businesses- Their needs change as businesses grow and transition. Answering services can be flexible and adjust to the growing needs of the business so that customers have a positive experience always when they call.
  4. Real estate professionals- Real estate professionals are often out of the office showing homes or attending open houses. An answering service can be a valuable resource for taking calls and setting up appointments when you’re not available.
  5. Medical and dental offices and providers- Medical and dental offices have strict HIPAA regulations to follow when taking patient information over the phone. Answering services familiar with HIPAA regulations can ensure that your patient’s information is always safe and secure.
  6. Insurance agents and agencies- Insurance agents often work odd hours to accommodate their clients’ schedules. An answering service can help take calls after hours so potential customers can get the information they need, even if you’re unavailable.
  7. Spas, salons, and personal wellness brands- Appointments are essential for spas, salons, and personal wellness brands. An answering service can help schedule appointments so your customers can get the services they need when convenient.
  8. Computer/software/IT companies- Computer companies often provide customer support after hours or on weekends. An answering service can help route support calls to the appropriate person so your customers can always access the help they need.
  9. Legal offices- Legal offices often need to be available 24/7 in case their clients have an emergency. An answering service can help ensure that your clients always have someone to talk to when they need it most.
  10. Hiring and staffing firms- Hiring firms often receive a high volume of calls from job seekers looking for employment opportunities. An answering service can help screen calls and forward messages so that you only receive calls from qualified candidates.

They’re a great option for businesses needing support in multiple areas and can be a valuable asset to your company. So, if you’re looking to get started fast, or need support in various areas of your business, consider using an answering service!

Contracting company owner wearing hard hat and talking on the phone

8 Benefits of an Answering Service 

An answering service is a great way to keep your business operating, accessible, and free from distractions. It also helps improve efficiency by screening callers and setting up appointments.

Additionally, an answering service can be beneficial in other ways – like reducing stress levels at work! So, an answering service is a great option if you’re looking for a way to take some of the load off your plate. Remember that there are different types of answering services, so be sure to choose the right one for your needs. And never forget to take advantage of their other benefits like saving money on live receptionist costs and reducing stress levels at work.

1. Fewer Missed Calls

An answering service ensures you never miss a call, even if your office is closed or you’re away from your desk. This is important because every missed call is a potential customer or client you may never hear from again.

2. More Professional Image

An answering service gives your business a more professional image. This is because calls are answered by a live person rather than an automated message. Customers and clients will appreciate the personal touch and be more likely to do business with you.

3. Increased Customer Satisfaction

Answering services can help to increase customer satisfaction by providing prompt and courteous service. This is because calls are typically answered within the first few rings, and customers are greeted in a friendly manner. Additionally, customers can always leave a message if they need to, ensuring their needs are always met.

Image representing customer satisfaction by showing blocks that go from a sad face to a happy face

4. Reduced Operating Costs

An answering service can help to reduce your business’s operating costs by eliminating the need to hire additional staff to answer phones. This is because answering services are typically much less expensive than hiring full-time employees. You don’t have to worry about paying for your answering service staff’s benefits or training.

5. Never Miss Appointments and Calls

You know how frustrating it is to make an appointment with a service or product provider, only to have them cancel on you at the last minute. This happens more often than you might think, but it’s less likely to occur if you have an answering service. These services take messages and then forward them to the right person. An answering service can even interact with your online calendar system and handle all the booking, rescheduling, and canceling on your behalf. So, even if your regular receptionist is out sick, someone will be available to take care of your calls and appointments.

6. Improved Time Management

An answering service can also help to improve your business’s time management. This is because calls will be handled quickly and efficiently, freeing up your time to focus on other tasks. Additionally, you can use the extra time to develop new marketing strategies or work on other projects to help grow your business.

7. Access to Expertise

When you use an answering service, you’ll have access to a team of experts who can provide valuable insights and advice. Most answering services employ experienced professionals familiar with various businesses and industries. As a result, they can offer helpful suggestions you may not have considered before.

8. Peace of Mind

Finally, an answering service can give you peace of mind by knowing that your calls are being handled by someone else. This is especially beneficial if you’re going on vacation or taking a break from work for an extended period. Even when you can’t take your calls, you can be sure that they will be answered in a timely and professional way.

What Industries Use an Answering Service?

Medical doctor reviewing a chart with a patient

Answering services are used in various industries, including:

Medical: General physicians, dentists, and veterinarians use answering services to manage their appointments and patient communication.

Professional organizations: Attorneys, credit unions, and fitness businesses use answering services to manage customer inquiries and appointments.

Service industry: Retailers, product manufacturers, realtors, and event planners use answering services to manage customer inquiries. They are often employed for after-hours calls, including emergency service requests. 

Property management: Property management firms use answering services to manage tenant communication and maintenance requests.

Religious affiliations: Religious organizations use answering services to manage their member communication.

Government agencies: Local state and federal government agencies use answering services for various purposes, such as managing public inquiries and providing information about programs and services.

Answering Service Challenges & What to Look For

Frustrated customer on the phone looking at a broken computer

  1. 24/7 Availability

One of the challenges of an answering service is providing 24/7 availability. This means that someone needs to be available to answer the phone at all times, including on nights and weekends. This can be difficult for staff, as not everyone is willing or able to work these hours.

  1. Dealing with Difficult Callers

Another challenge of an answering service is dealing with difficult callers. This can include people who are angry, upset, or simply difficult to understand. Answering service operators need to be patient and calm to deal with these types of callers.

  1. Staying Professional at All Times

It is also important for answering service operators to stay professional at all times. This means avoiding personal conversations, using proper grammar, and maintaining a friendly tone.

  1. Handling Sensitive Information

Answering services often handle sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or medical information. This information must be handled carefully and securely to protect the customers’ privacy.

  1. Adhering to Company Policies

Answering services must also adhere to the policies of the companies they are representing. This includes following scripts and procedures and being familiar with the products and services offered by the company.

  1. Providing a Positive Experience

Finally, it is important for answering services to provide a positive experience for callers. This means being friendly and helpful and resolving any issues that may arise during the call.

  1. Technical Issues

Another challenge of an answering service is technical issues. Answering services can experience technical problems that can cause your calls to go unanswered or be dropped. Additionally, if you use an online answering service, you may experience issues with the website or the software used to answer your calls.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a regular answering machine and a call center?

Answering services typically offer more limited options than call centers. For example, an answering service may function more like an answering machine and just take messages from callers. On the other hand, a call center may offer the ability to speak with a customer representative, receive incoming calls, transfer calls, and more. Additionally, call centers are often more technically integrated with their clients and perform more involved business processes over the phone, such as interacting with software applications, customer service portals, and e-commerce storefronts. 

What is the purpose of the answering service?

The purpose of the answering service is to provide a 24/7 contact for customers, partners, vendors, or employees who need to reach a business. This can include questions about products, services, or appointments. The answering service can also take messages and relay them to the appropriate people within the business.

Wrapping Up

Well, what’s the final verdict? As we mentioned earlier, an answering service is a service that provides live receptionists to handle customer inquiries. These receptionists are available 24/7 to take your calls and answer any questions you may have. Depending on the type of answering service you choose, they may offer different benefits, such as live receptionist service, call center service, email answering service, traditional answering service, and chat service.

So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the many benefits of using an answering service for your small business. We hope this article has helped clarify the misconceptions around call handling and shown you just how valuable an answering service can be for customer support and productivity.

Professional, 24/7 Answering Services from CMS

Are you looking for a telephone answering service to help with your business calls? Get pricing and learn more about professional answering services from CMS – an industry leader for over 50 years. We provide tailored solutions to fit your unique needs, so you can focus on your business.

By Last Updated: May 22, 2023Categories: Blog14 min read