The Definitive Guide to Hiring an Answering Service
What even is an answering service? Why would a business hire one? Wouldn’t my clients be able to tell they didn’t actually reach my office?
Answering services aren’t a new concept but they are still mysterious. If you’ve ever wondered if you should hire an answering service or virtual receptionist, read on! Back Office Betties is taking this opportunity to answer all of your burning questions, and more.
What is an answering service?
An answering service is a company that answers any incoming calls for your business. They can answer FAQs, schedule appointments, and transfer important calls to you when necessary.
Why should I hire an answering service?
Businesses hire answering services for all different reasons, but the common denominator is that it will save you time. By having someone else answer your phones, you are no longer a slave to your phone and can focus on your actual work.
Answering Service vs Receptionist
If you haven’t hired a receptionist yet, you probably have avoided it due to the cost, right? Receptionists need office space, computer equipment, salary, paid time off, etc.
If you have a business that has constant traffic through your doors, a receptionist may be the right option for you because you need someone greeting people anyway. But for small businesses that don’t have that traffic, an answering service may be the route to go.
An answering service can do everything that a receptionist does (except sit at a desk in your office, of course) for a much lower cost. There is no overhead, no paid time off, and no supplying of equipment.
Answering services offer different services depending on which company you choose to work with, but some of the most popular services offered are:
- Call Screening (buh-bye solicitors!)
- Client Intake
- Appointment Scheduling
- Calendar Management
- Answering of FAQs
- Transfer of Urgent Calls
- Message Forwarding
Can my clients tell you’re not in my office?
Ah, onto the real burning question! This one depends. If you choose an answering service that bounces back and forth between different types of businesses, maybe. If you choose one that operates like a call center, probably. Choose a niched answering service that specializes in your type of small business and it’s highly unlikely.
Back Office Betties specializes in small law firms and, unless your client is standing in your office when they call, they will not even know the difference!
What should I look for in an answering service?
When looking into hiring someone to answer your phones and assist your business, you want to be sure that the company you are contemplating will offer everything you need.
Can they set appointments? Can they fill out a client intake form? Are they able to send your phone messages to you immediately? What about email management? Do they integrate with your current processes? Can they set up new, more effective processes?
The best way to make sure that these things can all be taken care of is to ensure that you are actually hiring a company that offers virtual receptionist services. Virtual receptionist services are elevated answering services, and can really let you get back to the work that only YOU can do.
Before hiring, check out their reviews
Now that you know to look for a niched virtual receptionist, head to some review sites and see what other businesses in your field have to say. Google reviews are always reliable, but there are also many niched review websites, such as Lawyerist, that can give you a firm grasp on what your colleagues think of any specific company.
Give them a try!
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of companies you would like to potentially work with, test them out! A great virtual receptionist service will allow you to actually see the benefits of their service without any strings attached.
Good luck on your journey to hiring an answering service!