By Kelly Myers
Deciding whether or not you need a telephone answering service isn’t an easy choice. While there may be major benefits to an answering service for your firm, negative aspects apply as well. Here are pros and cons to consider before hiring an answering service.
Availability Answering services are typically available 24/7, 365 days a year. This can be of value when your office may only be open during normal business hours or if staff members are away from their desk and unable to pick up the phone. An answering service guarantees that all calls will be answered, allowing you and your staff to focus on other tasks at hand.
Personal touch The personal touch of having a real person answer a phone call, as opposed to an answering machine, is priceless. A caller will automatically feel more confident when reaching out and speaking with a person, rather than a series of voicemail prompts. Additionally, in an emergency situation, a live person is able to put the caller at ease and direct them to the appropriate staff member as quickly as possible.
Reduce costs An answering service can save you a significant amount of money while ensuring that your clients and prospects speak with a live operator. In comparison to hiring a receptionist, an answering service can be a less expensive option for handling phone calls. Hiring a company to handle phone calls can take the place of a staff member needing salary, sick days, benefits and vacation time.
Not your staff No matter how well prepared an answering service may be for the type of calls they’ll receive, it doesn’t compare to one of your knowledgeable staff members answering the phone. This can be especially helpful if the caller isn’t following the “script” you have provided on how to answer certain questions and direct calls. Your staff members have the ability to speak with a caller about their needs without having to transfer to another person.
Confidentiality When working in the Elder Law and Estate Planning industry, confidentiality is important. A caller may not feel as comfortable sharing personal information to someone who is not a part of your staff. If a caller knows or thinks an answering service is taking their call, they are more likely to not leave a message or even hang up.
Follow-up difficulties Since answering services are typically large companies with many employees, following up can be difficult due to inconsistencies or issues that come from a particular representative. What happens when a client or prospect tells you they spoke with Peter last night? Who is Peter? Did he give the right information? If not, contacting Peter or the answering service to ensure calls are answered effectively might be difficult.