10 Tips to Successfully Outsource Your Call Answering

By Graham Hill

August 27, 2010

Here are some key questions you want to be asking any company offering to outsource your company’s call answering. After all, your main office number is often the first point of contact that prospects have when they contact your company so it’s important to get that right.
1. Does the company already provide a service to companies of a similar size and type as mine?
Experience counts for a lot in how different calls and scenarios are handled. If the supplier works with a large client base, including companies similar to yours, they should have the ability and knowledge to provide you with what you want from a call answering service.
2. How long have they been in business, and are they creditworthy?
There are quite a few start-ups in the call answering industry. Are you sure they’re going to last? Experience makes a huge difference, as does having trained, committed, long-term staff. Verbatim was formed in 1997 and we’re entrusted to take calls from every type of sector. Many of our receptionists have been with us from the start. In addition, we have a strong balance sheet – and always pay our bills on time.
3. How much cover do I really need?
You might need 24 hour cover – but most business don’t, so don’t be persuaded if you really don’t need it. 8.00am to 6.30 pm is usually fine, with a message board or voicemail out of hours. But if you might need 24 hour service, make sure you can have it. Verbatim offers standard hours, 24 hour cover, and anything in between e.g. standard plus weekend cover, or standard plus 24 hour weekend cover. Our call answering services are completely flexible.
4. How much can the service be personalised?
Every member of staff should be able to choose how their own calls are answered, and how their own messages are handled. Everyone should also be able to have a list of all their most important callers, how they should be greeted and where they’re from. Verbatim’s VIP Service allows unlimited VIP contacts, companies and individuals as part of the standard service, at no extra cost.
5. Can the supplier act as a switchboard service and pass calls onto me wherever I am?
A remote switchboard should patch calls through to you wherever you are, and introduce the call to you so you know who is calling before you speak to them. If the call can’t be patched through to you, you should receive the message automatically, by whatever means you prefer – fax, email, or SMS. It’s hardly a messaging service if you have to call them to get your messages. And make sure you don’t pay extra for messaging – it should all be included.
6. What is the calibre of the receptionists?
Are they just message takers or are they experienced, trained telephone receptionists? The best receptionists sound as though they’re a member of your staff.
7. What training do they provide for their receptionists?
It comes back to the question – are they just message takers or are they telephone receptionists? The supplier should be able to measure their receptionists’ performances both qualitatively and quantitatively, and know exactly how well each receptionist is performing so they can be trained and developed. Verbatim’s receptionists are either trained to NVQ2 (equivalent to GCSE) or NVQ3 (equivalent to ‘A’ level) level in Customer Services, or are going through the training process.
8. Can the service grow with my business?
You might want just straightforward call answering at the moment, but in future you might want to run events or seminars which people need to book on; you may want to put out an ad with a phone number to call, or have an order line for people coming from your website. Check on the flexibility of the supplier and how well they could cope with your growth.
9. Can I keep my telephone number if I move on?
Once you’ve got your 0844/0845 numbers you’ll spend a lot of time and money promoting them on your website and marketing material. Don’t get caught out if you decide to move suppliers – make sure you can take your number with you.
10. Will they let me visit the call centre and see how they work?
If they won’t let you come and see the whole process in action, and to see how the receptionists work for other clients, wonder why!


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