What can you do to help your answering service succeed in serving you well?
The single more important thing is clear and concise instructions. Remember that telephone answering service agents are answering 50-60 calls per hour during peak times, that they are answering for many different companies, and every company has it’s own special instructions.
If you simply tell your service “use your common sense”, keep in mind that what makes perfect sense for one business would be a disaster on their next call. For instance, we answer for many veterinarians and the instructions we get from different veterinary offices are wildly different. For one vet clinic, relaying a small animal emergency is exactly what we are supposed to do, on the next call for a different practice doing that will get us fired.
The best type of instructions involve just one or two qualifying questions. For a veterinary office, these might be “Is this an emergency?” and “Are you a current client?”. Just those two questions give four possible responses (e.g., a non-emergency call from a non-client, an emergency call from a client, etc.). If you add in one more typical condition in your instructions (e.g., during office hours or after hours), you now have 8 possible scenarios.
Whether you are a law office, a veterinary office, an HVAC company, a plumbing service, or whatever, if you keep your instructions clear and concise, you’ll be helping your service succeed at serving you. Remember, we have awesome, competent people working for us, but they do not know your business as well as you, and they often are working in a very fast-paced environment.
We would be happy to work with you and give you advice on what we think will work well for your particular situation. We have lots of great tools in our computer system that helps us manage complexity when necessary.