How to Reduce Your Answering Service Expenses

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Answering Service?

If we’ve learned anything from the stock market crash of 2008, it is that the economy is fickle and businesses are thehow-to-reduce-answering-service-expenses-alliance-wireless-communications first to feel the pinch. The concern for cutting operational costs is at the top of every business owners mind. If you’ve hired an answering service in lieu of hiring full-time staff to answer your phones, you’re already moving in the right direction. Now it’s time to go a step further; read these tips on how to reduce your answering service expenses to ensure you are getting the best service for the best price.

Tip #1 – Use Call Forward/No Answer and Call Forward/Busy 

Make sure your answering service offers you unassisted call forwarding. Some services will require you to confirm your lines are forwarded to the proper number by having you check-in with an operator, costing you billable time on your account. By using call forward/no answer you can make sure you have the first opportunity to answer your calls and only use the service if you cannot receive the calls yourself. For example, in the event you or your receptionist are unable to pick up after a pre-determined ring, your line will automatically route to your personal toll free number at the service. Call forward/no answer can be programmed on your line 24/7.

WitCall forward/busy, potential customers will no longer have to hear an annoying busy signal which may lead them straight into the arms of your competitor. The formula is simple: lost calls equals lost opportunities equals lost revenue. The solution? If all your lines are being utilized your callers will never receive another annoying busy signal, instead they will be diverted to the answering service. Therefore, an answering service will only answer if all your business lines are busy.

You can reduce your answering service call volume by handing fewer calls over to the answering service without losing their backup protection tools like call forwarding. This option allows you to reduce staffing costs without affecting the level of service your customers receive.

Tip #2 – Have Your Answering Service Review Your Account Regularly 

Choose an answering service that is willing to monitor your account to ensure you are taking advantage of the most cost effective rate plan for your call volume. Hire an answering service that offers a variety of rate plans for all needs and any budget. 

Tip #3 –  Make Sure Your Answering Service is Efficiently Collecting Customer Information

Keeping the answering script tight and concise will ensure that your billable time is not wasted on non-essential information collection and delivery. Your account can be highly customized so can you decide what questions you want asked and what information you want collected. Usually a form is sent for you to fill out all of the specific information pertaining to the call (greetingdispatchingmessage delivery, etc.). Upon submitting the form, there should also be a one-on-one interview conducted between you and the answering service to review your account to ensure optimum customization.  

Tip #4 – Forward to a Toll Free Number 

Ensure your answering service is providing a toll free forwarding line so you are not paying to forward your calls. An added benefit of toll free numbers is that they can help you to expand your business by giving you reach into different time zones!

Tip #5 – Request a Detailed Report of Incoming Call Patterns

Ask for a detailed report to see when your peak times (or most call received) are. This is valuable information that can provide you with the information you need to ensure your staff are answering as many calls in-house as possible. It may be that shifting the hours you answer a call by half an hour could make a big impact on the number of calls that you can answer in-house, thus saving you money.

Tip #6 – Per Second Versus Per Call Billing

Per second billing can be more cost effective than billing on a per call basis as some answering service companies count each time the business call forwards as a “call”, resulting in 30 plus calls per month. Alternatively, per second billing will only result in a couple minutes per month. Quite the difference!  

Tip #7 – Have Messages Delivered Electronically

Having an urgent call taken by the answering service sent immediately via SMS text or email with confirmation as opposed to being relayed verbally will save you billable time on your account. Think of your answering service as a triage for your calls, allowing you the convenience of handling urgent calls when you are truly needed. 

Tip #8 – Ask the Answering Service How They Bill

Some answering service companies bill on a 28-day cycle resulting in 13 bills per year. Whereas, other companies bill at the 1st of every month resulting in 12 bills a year. Knowing this can save you money on billing and invoicing costs.

Tip #9 – Take Advantage of Web-Based Services

Make use of available online web services so that the answering service can not only sell your products and services online but also update existing orders online as well, saving you the billable time it would take to update a customer’s profile over the phone.Check to see if the answering services allows you to update your On-Call list information yourself. This is important because some answering services do it themselves and charge you money for amount of time it takes their staff to update your On-Call information.

Also, hiring an answering service that is available 24/7 that can answer FAQ’s and process orders directly through your website will increase business one call at a time! 

Tip #10 – Perform Your Own Quality Control Measures

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and you want to make sure that your business and your customers are being represented and regarded in the most respectful way by your answering service. Most answering service companies offer the added benefit of call recordings allowing complete transparency. These calls are immediately available for your review for your own quality control measures. You can ensure that your callers are being taken care of in a professional, personal manner, the same way you would.

These recordings also offer the added benefit of functioning as a back-up measure that you can reference to firm up any details that might have been missed. The recordings can also act as a legal safe guard. Make sure your answering service is putting their money where their mouth is.

Tip #11 – Refer Other Business’s

Most answering services have a referral program in place that will financially incentivize current clients to refer their services to potential clients in return for in-house account credits. Ask if the answering service provides some kind of financial credit to your account if you refer someone. Every time you refer someone, that’s more money off your bill and in your pocket! Referral programs are the merit badges of any business because it reflects the high level of value they place on their current client relationships. 

Tip #12 – Do Your Research

If you’ve made it this far into this article than you’re already on the right track to educating yourself on hiring an answering service. Make sure that the answering service you choose is the best fit for your business. Take into account the content they have available on their website, the resources that they provide, and of course think about these 12 tips :). Good luck!

Interested in learning more about how to hire a telephone answering service?

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Funeral Home Answering Service : The Alliance Group