Answering Service FAQ
- How does your service work?
Every account is provided with either a local or nationwide toll free number, which may be called directly (may be used in client’s advertising) or be forwarded to, typically from a client’s existing business lines. In some instances a client may do both, forward office lines when they need us to answer and they will also advertise (web site, postcards. etc.) the provided number.
Accounts are custom built and configured to exact specifications. Calls will be answered using a client’s pre-chosen answer phrase and will be processed according to the client’s instructions. Different types of calls may be processed. For example, new sales and support calls may be expected. In this case client’s account screens may have instructions such as, for all support calls, go to page 2. For all new sales calls, go to page 3. On each page specific instructions will be given for processing that type of call. In the support example the agent may be instructed to e-mail that information to 5 separate e-mail addresses. For a sales call, perhaps the instructions are to gather up certain information and patch the caller through to a salesman. Any combination of delivery methods may be selected for any type of call. For example, maybe certain types of calls need an e-mail and a text message, while others are held until a scheduled e-mail or fax summary is sent the next morning. Alternatively, certain call types may require that information is provided to callers, such as, offering up-sell information while an agent completes a script. Other times agents may simply be relaying information, such as, business address, providing directions to your nearest location or supplying information on the types of services you provide.
These are but a few examples of available services and how they work. Many more can be found within this website.
- How do you charge?
Our call center charges a low base rate each billing cycle, much like an access fee. The base rate provides 24/7 access to our agents, a provided phone number and an unlimited web portal through which instantaneous account information is available. The low base rate is the only commitment, after that pay only for what is used.
Accounts and services are billed for the time actually used. Because all usage is billed in arrears, there is never a reason to worry about changing rate plan size nor is there ever any concern about paying for unused calls or minutes. There are also never any unexpected "overage" fees.
- How will you know how to answer the phone for my business?
As part of our set-up process, we ask for certain information regarding products and services, as well as general information about the business. This includes, but is not limited to, a company address, phone and fax numbers, web site address and directions to locations. If a client so chooses, it can be made to appear as if our agent is actually the office receptionist. Any information a client wishes us to disseminate may be provided. This includes everything from pricing information, FAQ’s to emergency contacts. Very quickly agents will begin to "learn" more about the business, simply by answering calls. How quickly agents become knowledgeable is a function of how busy the account is and how long the client has been with our telephone answering service.
- How can I be assured that friendly, intelligent people will answer my calls?
Our hiring and training methodologies insure that professional agents answer your calls. Potential new agents are first subjected to a battery of computerized testing to gauge their cognitive and physical skills. Typing speed, spelling, grammar and comprehension are all measured. Once the best candidates have been identified they move to our interview process, which focuses on communication skills and attitude. We are always looking for "can do" attitudes and energetic agents who share our company focus towards quality and friendly service. After agents complete the interview process they move on to our training program which requires them to take classes that educate them about our company, our clients, our software and hardware systems. After agents successfully complete our training courses they are moved to the call center floor where they work under other agents for several weeks before they are allowed to take calls on their own. Our agents answer and end calls with a smile. Through strict selection criteria and intense training programs we guarantee that our agents are the best in the industry.
- How do I know you will answer my calls quickly?
This is a matter of motivation; how critical is it for us to make sure this happens? You only need to look at how our answering services are billed to determine whether or not we are highly motivated to answer your calls quickly. With many services you pre-buy a block of calls or minutes, in which the call center receives payment prior to answering any of your calls. We don’t offer these types of rate plans, so it’s easy to see why we are motivated to answer your calls. With our answering service rate plan only the base fee is guaranteed to us, we earn additional monies only when we answer your phones and help your callers. This rate structure provides a tremendous amount of motivation to answer calls quickly and professionally. Frustrated callers, who hang up in a hold queue, are lost revenue for us. You can rest assured that we pay a lot of attention to proper staffing and timely responses to your incoming calls.
- Are my callers ever placed on hold?
Once an agent answers a call, it will never be interrupted. This provides a much nicer experience for callers, as opposed to being repeatedly interrupted with, "Will you hold for just a moment? I have to answer another call." At our answering service the only time a caller is ever placed on hold is if the account instructions are for an agent to patch through a call. In this instance an agent would have to place the caller on hold while they attempt to connect the caller directly to a staff member at your office.
The only other scenario where a caller would not immediately speak with an agent can happens when the call first arrives. Our call center agents answer 85% of our calls on the first ring, at which time an agent stays with the caller until completion. An additional 10-12% of inbound calls are still answered by a live virtual receptionist, who takes the caller to completion, however they are answered on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th ring. The remaining 3-5% of inbound calls will complete the 4th ring, at which time a custom announcement, in your company name, will play to let the caller know all representatives are busy and that someone will be with them in less than 15 seconds. The caller is then placed in a hold queue where professional music is played until the call is answered by the next available call center agent. Our average hold time in this queue is 15 seconds or less. Again, because of how our answering service bills, we do not want callers in the hold queue. If they hang up, you miss a call and we don’t earn revenue.
- Do you have an online management portal where I can access my account?
Yes, it is included at no additional cost. Our online account management portal is called Client Web Access and it was developed in-house with suggestions about design and functionality from our clients. By using CWA clients can access a wide variety of account information. Messages, performance reports, billing reports, average ring, average talk reports, recordings of all calls and much, much more is accessible 24/7 from anywhere via the internet. Data may also be queried by account and date range and if desired may be exported as a .csv file. While logged into the portal clients may also manage on-call after hour schedules or escalation protocols. Account screens and data may also be viewed and updated.
- Is privacy important to you will my and my client’s information be protected?
Yes, our answering service takes privacy very seriously. All employees sign a confidentiality agreement which remains in effect indefinitely. Our call center utilizes the highest data encryption and firewall technologies to insure the integrity and security of our network. We are HIPPA compliant, employing the highest standard of customer data and information protection. Clients can rest assured that information is safe and secure.
- How reliable are your systems?
Our IT staff takes extraordinary means to insure our call center stays operational. Our telephone answering service was designed and built to function both during and after a category 5 hurricane. On premise we maintain our own power plant and utilize redundant telephony, including multiple circuits from different providers. Software and hardware are protected by the use of redundant servers, switches and routers, including both physical and virtual machines.
The other area of concern is employee reliability and attendance. To combat this, our center uses a mix of both in-house and remote virtual receptionists, insuring we always have agents with access to our systems. In short, our systems and center are very reliable, however we also understand the need to communicate should something happen. In the event of an emergency we are able to quickly notify clients via e-mail or fax through the use of our robust automated communications platform. In addition we encourage our clients to follow us on Twitter and Facebook as important updates also may be found there.
- Do I receive a discount if my call volume increases?
With our call center you do. Most services offer discounts for prepaid packages; these packages are very difficult to utilize because they require you to forecast your incoming calls. If you buy too many minutes or calls then nothing rolls over and you wasted money paying for services you didn’t use. If you purchase too few, then you end up paying exorbitant overage fees. For example, if you sign up for 1000 minutes and only use 400 minutes, you’ll have 600 unused minutes that don’t rollover. If you sign-up for 1000 minutes and you use 1200, the additional 200 minutes are billed at a much higher rate than your package minutes.
Our billing system automatically discounts your rate EVERY billing cycle when certain thresholds of call volume are reached. For example, if 1000 minutes are used in a billing cycle your invoice will be automatically discounted to our 1000 minute package rate; there is no need to commit to anything. The higher the volume the larger the discount and you are not obligated to use any amount of minutes per billing cycle. Just pay for what you actually use.
- How soon can I be up and running with your service?
Signing up is easy and can be completed online in just a few minutes. Once you’ve signed up you will automatically be assigned an account manager. Your account manager will contact you, often the same day or during the next business day to provide new account information and to gather additional setup information. At that time they can also answer any additional questions. After that, most accounts are ready for live calls within 24 – 48 hours, depending on the complexity and any necessary agent training.
- Do I have to sign a long term contract?
No, the initial contract period is 28 days. 28 days written notice is required to cancel.
- Is there a setup fee to start my account?
Hourly fees may apply. Please consult your sales rep regarding current rates.
- How can I pay?
We currently offer two payment methods, credit card billing and standard invoicing (pay by check). In the near future e-check / ACH type services will also be offered. Please inquire, if interested.
- How do I sign up?
There are two choices, use the online sign-up or complete and return a written sign-up form.
To sign up online, please click here to go to our main website online sign-up form.
To sign up using the printed forms please ask your sales representative to forward a copy.