Whether you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have enough staff to field all of your calls or you simply want to eliminate missed opportunities because you can’t answer the phone (or even be there for callers when you are), hiring a third-party answering service is one option to consider. An answering service will take calls for your company when you are unavailable, such as after-hours or during weekends and vacation days. Depending on the type of answering service you choose, it can also provide additional customer service, such as scheduling or taking appointments or sending message to the appropriate person.
The types of answering services you can choose from vary widely and include live, automated and virtual receptionists. Automated services use pre-recorded prompts to guide callers and require them to press specific numbers or letters for specific information, such as business hours or directions. They work well for customers who are looking for general information and cost less than live answering services.
Live answering services are run by people that represent your company, greet callers and attend to their needs. They can schedule appointments, take messages and even send text notifications of new voicemails to your email or mobile device. Some providers offer specialty answering services for businesses in certain industries, such as limousines, funeral homes or medical companies. Others, like MAP Communications and AnswerConnect, offer business features such as call routing, bilingual receptionists and custom scripting. Many of these services integrate into your existing systems so that you can track call trends and information, such as customer details. phone answering service