According to a consumer reports article released in January of 2010, the number two biggest gripe among American consumers is not getting a live person on the phone. Further research shows that, depending on industry, anywhere from 40-70% of first time buyers won’t call back or leave a message if they don’t get a live person who answers the phone the first time they call.
So, I think we can all agree that having a live person answering your company’s phone calls 24/7 is extremely important, both from a customer service standpoint and also from a prospecting/new sales standpoint. The question then is who should be answering the phone? It’s certainly doesn’t make sense to hire staff to work 24 hours/day. That would be a waste of money. The other solution is to hire an answering service. Answering services are there 24/7/365 in most cases and don’t get sick, check Facebook, or play solitaire.
Here are 3 tips to make sure you hire the best answering service for YOUR business:
1. Ask for references. Word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing for a reason. People value the opinions of unbiased parties. The quickest way to find out about a company is by talking to their current and previous clients. If the company is unable or unwilling to provide you with references, be weary.
2. Ask about client retention. The answering service and call center industry is built around recurring revenue. That’s perhaps the biggest appeal to being in that industry. However, if a company has a revolving door of clients coming and going, its a sign that they can’t consistently deliver a high level of service to their clients.
3. Ask for call statistics. Everyone proclaims they have “great service”. What in the heck does that mean!? If a company says they have great service, ask them to quantify it and talk details. Ask about ring times, hold times, percentage on hold, accuracy metrics, etc. Any company who has great service is measuring it in some form or fashion. If they’re afraid to show you their numbers, be weary.
Other than these three things, you should always make sure that any company you choose to give your business to has experience. Also, make sure its a good fit. Otherwise, you just end up wasting time and money.
Ryan Keener is a business development executive. His areas of expertise are sales, strategic planning, customer service, and culture building. Ryan currently serves as the Director of Business Development at Keener Communications, Inc. in Richmond, VA.