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Answering Service Comparison: 5 Questions to Ask

Answering Service Comparison: 5 Questions to Ask

After being with an answering service for a while and talking to clients and their customers

, I have found 5 questions that are more important than, "How much does it cost?"

Question #1: What is your average hold time? This is important because customers are often impatient and want service immediately. Having an answering service that can answer nearly all of your calls BEFORE they go into a hold state. This is crucial. Even though you are not answering the call, the customer should get just as prompt an answer from an answering service as they would from you or your staff. A quality answering service will be able to boast a 95% rate of calls answered before going to hold, and for those few calls that do go to a hold status, the average hold time should be less than 30 seconds.

Question #2: What is your abandonment rate? This is the number of calls that are not answered before the caller gets too impatient with being on hold and hangs up. Obviously, abandoned calls are a missed opportunity for your business. The less that happens, the better for all involved. If the answering service you are investigating has a rate of over 0.5% or if they can't give you the statistic, you are better off looking elsewhere for your answering service needs.

Question #3: What is the turnover rate at your center? Turnover rate is how often an employer needs to replace an employee. The reason it is important to you as their client is because the longer employees stay with the answering service, the better quality service they are able to provide to your customers. The more frequently they have to hire and train new employees, means those employees are less familiar with your business and the service your clients receive is not as good as it needs to be. A service that has a turnover rate of below 15% is doing an excellent job of keeping its employees happy and productive. And happy employees generally make happy customers.Answering Service Comparison: 5 Questions to Ask

Question #4: How do you compensate your operators? This goes together with Question #3. The answering service that pays their employees a living wage and offers regular raises based on performance and quality standards stands a great chance of being able to maintain a low turnover rate and having friendly knowledgeable agents to interact with your customers.

Question #5: Will all of your call data be easily accessible? Any answering service should allow you access to this information free of charge and a good one will have full reports with detail such as time and date stamps for when calls arrived, call duration, average length of call, etc. The superior answering service has an online portal where you can access all of this data on your own without relying on your account manager to send it to you in a timely manner. At the end of the day, the answers to these questions are far more crucial to the service your customers will experience when they call in, than the price you are paying for the service. There is a cost for better quality service, and receiving good service at a slightly higher price is far more valuable to your business than getting the lowest cost.

Answering Service Comparison: 5 Questions to Ask

By: J. Todd Hubbard
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Answering Service Comparison: 5 Questions to Ask Washington