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Answering Services and Stepchildren
Home Business Management
By: Steve Stone Email Article
Word Count: 674 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


With today's technology and niche service companies popping up all over the horizon, it's easy to give in to the temptation of having your after hours or weekend call dispatching outsourced. Don't give in, don't treat your after hours and weekend business like a stepchild.

You never know when that late night call could turn into your next six figure account and the last thing you want to do is have someone not familiar with your company handling your business' largest new account.

It may seem like a good idea to let another company work for you answering and dispatching these calls. It is very easy to fall into this trap with your service business, but there are a few problems that can arise when outsourcing your evening and weekend calls:

First, answering services don't necessarily know your business. Maybe you have a unique way of answering the phone or prefer to handle residential calls differently than commercial calls.

Many answering services are going to answer your calls just like everyone else's; even if provided a script there's no guarantee they'll come across with the same enthusiasm and can-do attitude that one of your own employees could provide by answering your phone.

Secondly, an answering service may field your calls for you, but will delay response times. Once the answering service talks to your customer, takes a message and contacts your tech-on-duty to return the call, your afterhours client has probably called five other businesses that are running yellow page ads next to yours.

Third, the issue with answering services that stings the most is reports of your own customers being put on hold while the operator answers another incoming call.

Answering services have no allegiance. Most mid-sized towns can only support three to four answering services. Odds are your answering service is answering your direct competitor's calls as well as yours. While this may not have an impact on how well they serve your business, knowing this never set well with me.

One final problem experienced when outsourcing calls isn't with the service provider, but with on-duty techs. Having the answering service contact your on-call techs caused a drop in service calls that were run over the weekends.

After a little investigation, it was sometimes discovered that the techs were either diagnosing the customer's problem over the phone, telling them how to fix the problem if it wasn't something "major," or postponing the call until Monday morning. By then the customer usually had the problem fixed by another company before your own could show up on site.

Here's how to remedy this problem and doubled your weekend business. Become your company's dispatcher after hours and weekends. It's not the set it and forget it solution many would hope for, but the results were positively staggering.

You can run twice the business when you have after hours calls forwarded to your cell rather than by having another company handle the calls.

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