What business do you know that isn’t constantly on the look out for ways to cut costs but increase productivity? It’s a key goal for any company, and B2B businesses are always looking for ways to provide services that help them to achieve it. Recently, this has given birth to outsourcing,  one of the most successful solutions to dat, in its ability to provide an affordable, flexible way for businesses to meet increased demand. 

 

Outsourcing is where businesses use the services of a third party companies to help with business operations. It can be done on a temporary basis, for example, using a remote customer service team to help with a rise in call volumes, and you pay per minute, meaning that you only pay for what you use; a far more affordable option compared to hiring full-time staff. The benefits are multitudinous, ranging from being more cost effective, to being a far less time-consuming option thanks to a lack of HR responsibilities.

 

Customer service is, in fact, one of the most popular departments that businesses outsource, most often in the form of hiring telephone answering services, otherwise known as call centres. It’s easy to see why when you consider the fact that 92% of all customer interaction happens over the phone). Furthermore, your call handlers carry significant responsibility acting as the face of your company, and should therefore be a key area of investment for any business. For these reasons, making sure this department runs smoothly should be a key goal. Outsourcing to a telephone answering service is a sure fire why of achieving this, but how do you choose which service provider to outsource to?

 

Cost

 

First of all, there’s the price to consider. Telephone answering services tend to charge on a price per minute basis, which is useful when it comes to deciding which to use, but it’s also important consider value for money; are the cheapest providers sacrificing quality? Most will offer a range of packages to suit the various needs of different companies, who will all have different priorities and levels of demand to meet. While it seems straight forward that you would opt for the cheapest provider, pay close to attention to what is included in the price as the cheapest option may not always be the most cost effective. 

 

The rest of this article will give you a good idea of what should be included in a good quality package that would make for a good investment and be profitable for your company. So, while price is bound to be an aspect in your decision making, try not to prioritise it over more important features such as the quality of training given to those who will be representing your company when they answer your calls.

 

Accessibility

 

The more your customers are able to access your company, the more you can maximise their potential value. Not being able to call businesses during business hours due to having your own work commitments, is an issue many people regularly face, therefore, having telephone lines that are open outside of 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or better yet 24/7, easily sets you apart from competition. One of the main benefits of outsourcing to a third party who specialise in call answering, is that they have a body of staff with different shift patterns, so they can take calls at any time of day.

 

So, when you’re considering telephone answering services, make enquiries into the working hours of their call handlers. You could also ask how many representatives will be available during certain time periods, so that you can gauge the likelihood of all calls to your business being answered, based on your knowledge of where demand is highest. Most providers understand the importance of offering a wide range of opening times for their phone lines and the impact it can have on the success of their clients, but not all, so be sure to ask what their package includes.

 

Quality

 

Acting as the face of your company, you need to be safe in the knowledge that those answering your calls take their roles seriously, behave professionally and have the skills to make the most of any leads. Each call has the potential to be profitable when handled by the right person. They could be calls from potential new customers, making enquiries and giving you the opportunity to impress them. They could be calls from existing customers placing new orders, in which case you need to retain their loyalty by delivering a consistently great service. Any negative experiences could spell disaster, after all, one third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.

 

Lastly, the way in which complaints are handled is the difference between maintaining a strong customer base and reputation or watching them dwindle. Your customer service representatives have significant responsibility over the growth of your business, so making sure you choose a telephone answering service that values quality is crucial.

 

Training 

 

Outsourcing allows you to benefit from fully trained staff, rather than having to put your own training schemes in place for new employees. However, you can’t always rely on the training that your outsourced staff have had, being up to scratch. So, when you’re making enquiries with various different telephone answering services, make sure you ask them about the training they provide. Find out what their training prioritises and whether the skills they value match your own. You want customer service representatives who understand the importance of their role and feel confident in handling the wide variety of scenarios that are bound to unfold. 

 

Merging with Your Business 

 

Something that a number of business owners feel apprehensive about when considering outsourcing, is how they can make sure the service provided by the remote employees is integrated smoothly into the company. Failing to do so can have a negative impact on the reputation of the business. For example, if remote call handlers answer calls with a different approach than your in-house team, or they can’t answer questions about the company, it gives the impression that the business isn’t prioritising the treatment of its customers and is happy for poorly prepared staff to handle enquiries ineffectively. This also suggests that the company may have a similar level of disinterest in the quality of products and services they provide. 

 

While it is important to make sure you choose a telephone answering service that understands the importance of smooth integration, they must also be supported by you in order to succeed in this endeavour. They will need to be provided with knowledge of the kind of questions and scenarios to expect from callers, and of the details in answers that need to be provided. You need to have a system in place for the communication of this information, and support in place when help is required. For example, telephone answering service Cymphony have an instant messaging system that allows staff working for the same client to discuss an issue they might be facing, which, in turn, allows them to think up solutions together. 

 

Communication  

 

Finally, once you’re sure that your calls will be answered professionally and productively, you also need to consider how any important information gathered during calls with your customers will be communicated back to your company. One of the main advantages of outsourcing to telephone answering services is that calls can be taken outside of your office hours, but this means there needs to be a system in place for the transfer of any important information back to the office by the next day. 53% of consumers believe that their feedback doesn’t get back to anyone who can actually act on it, so there is plenty of room to make a great impression by bucking this trend.

 

When shortlisting providers, ask about their approach to this issue and how they overcome it. Their solution needs to suit your company and how it operates. For example, do they use a ticket system where each individual piece of information is sent immediately across to be picked in the morning by anyone, or do they summarise it all in a document that can be emailed to one relevant member of staff? What would you prefer and who can provide that for you?

 

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when choosing the best telephone answering service for your business, but taking the time to choose wisely will result in the most profitable addition to your business model. Yet another benefit of outsourcing is that you can use the services on a temporary basis, giving you ready-made trial periods. So many companies are making the most of outsourcing, and by choosing the right provider, you can too.

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