If you want your company to succeed, you should always be looking for better solutions. Hiring new people, ordering new software, and optimizing the work process – all these are just part of a business owner’s life. However, making decisions is challenging, as every solution has its pros and cons – and it’s no different when it comes to answering services.

Little companies, as well as big corporations, are interested in getting an answering service nowadays, as it looks like a simple and elegant solution to collect and organize calls. However, not everyone decides to go for it in the end. You may think the price’s too high – but even though the phone answering service cost is one of the most popular search queries on this topic, the subject is a little more complicated. Let’s look into it and figure out if you need an answering service – or if you’re better off without one.

What is a Phone Answering Service?

If you don’t use an answering service, you may not know exactly what it is – or why you may need it. Simply put, it’s a type of service that can manage incoming and outgoing communication in your company – phone calls, mail, faxes,  and text messaging included. This way, your employees can do their tasks without answering too many calls, and if something important comes up, the call will be redirected to them by the answering service.

Depending on what you need, you can get different phone answering packages. Those with basic features, like answering calls, transferring them, responding to emails, are usually known as virtual receptionist services or virtual office services. Then, there is an automated answering service, where there aren’t’ any live agents answering the calls – it’s more of an interactive voice response program. Finally, there are call centers, where you can get the most professional service, and a whole group of agents will be handling your calls.

How Much Does It Cost?

Of course, in each case, the price is different – and it depends on the package/plan type you choose. The main rule is that you only pay for the features you need – if you have a small company and don’t need a wide range of services, you will pay less than a big corporation. However, there are always some important things to remember when choosing a price.

There are three different types of billings when it comes to phone answering services:

    • Per-minute billing
    • Per call billing
    • Per unit billing

Per-minute billing is the most common option, but it can be more expensive if you often get longer calls. The per-call billing method can seem like a better option financially, but make sure to check that you won’t get charged for wrong numbers. With per unit billing, don’t forget to establish what’s a “unit,” as it can mean everything – a transferred call, a delivered message, etc.

Of course, as always, there are additional costs. Be aware of billing cycles different than a month, contract-terminating costs, and hidden fees.

Pros of Answering Service

Even though sometimes an answering service may seem like an unnecessary expense, it can often help your company grow. Here are some of the most important advantages of getting an answering service:

  • More mobility for your customers. Now they won’t have to wait till Monday or till your employees’ shift start – the calls are outsourced to a 24/7 operator.
  • You’re saving money and time. Outsourcing calls to a phone answering service is cheaper than hiring a new employee. It also saves time for your employees, so they can do their direct tasks and not worry about the phone.
  • Improved call quality. Now there won’t be a thousand people answering calls or talking about something else in the background. The operator also has the necessary skills to talk to your clients, which your other employees may not have.

Cons of Answering Service

However, you don’t always need an answering service. It may sound like the right solution, but there are situations when you can do better without it. For example:

  • If you already have an in-house receptionist and want to replace them. Even though answering service operators are skilled in talking to customers, they don’t have as much knowledge as your employee already has. It’s not worth the effort.
  • When it may have a negative impact on your company culture – make sure your employees don’t feel replaced.
  • If you need a subject matter expert. Answering service agents don’t have detailed knowledge about what you do, so you may want to hire a full-time expert to handle complex telephone calls.

Conclusion

Answering services have been popular for more than 20 years, and the demand for them isn’t going away anytime soon. There’s a reason for that – such a service really can make your and your employees’ life a lot easier. Of course, it’s not suitable for every situation – but if you carefully consider all the pros and cons, and decide that you need it, you won’t regret it.

However, you have to figure out what exactly you need from an answering service. Whether it will be only an automated answering service, basic call and message handling, or a whole call-center service – the price depends on it. Once you sort that out, then no matter how much you pay, if you made the right decision, this solution will save you a lot of time, money, and energy.

(Beata Hardzei)

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