Be Your Customers’ Port in the Storm

Hurricane season, winter storms, and construction disruptions – they cause a challenge for businesses. Whether your clients are facing damage of their own or helping their own customers deal with service interruptions, it is key to provide the best support you can to help their businesses continue to run smoothly and offer the peace of mind they need to get through any disturbance.

Keep things running

In the midst of hurricane season, there is worry about keeping businesses running efficiently. When the threat of a hurricane looms, or damage has been done because of a storm, your clients need to know they can be back in business quickly and effectively. We’ve found that our answering service clients are not only able to have a central point of contact through our operators, but this provides them the ability to keep their own operation running; and in turn, those of their clients.

This is also important if your clients have customers of their own facing trouble due to hurricanes. It can be a busy time of year, and your support will help your clients weather the chaos until the condition is normalized.

Let them know you’re there

A reliable communication network is imperative in the midst of natural disasters. By providing high quality customer service, your clients will know they can rely on your business despite conditions. Whether they are dealing with customers of their own who are temporarily out of commission, or are getting back to business after restoration, knowing you are in their corner is the support they deserve.

By providing the best service you can, you show your clients that they are important, and you are there to help them keep their business running. Your support of their business will help restore the status quo while helping to strengthen your business relationship.

Local weather or natural disasters can bring new challenges to your clients’ businesses. Whether they are facing difficulty in their own operations or are helping their own customers through a disaster, providing them with the reinforcement they need delivers the ability to keep their business functioning optimally through every eventuality.

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Let Your First Impression Be the Start of Every Impression

Most people know that the first impression you make is an important one, so you should try and make it the best you can. However, it is only one part of the overall experience you have with customers. Every interaction with clients is as important as the first, so you should strive to make every impression as good as your first.

Why make a good first impression?

A first impression sets the tone for a working relationship. When you make a good first impression, you show clients that you care about their business, and you want to have a good relationship with them. It helps put the best possible face on your company.

The politeness and courtesy that comes with a good first impression also shows that you respect your clients, and are listening to their needs. This is an essential component of an effective customer service strategy. Your clients want to know you care about them as individuals rather than being made to feel like they are just an account number in a database. Your first impression can be the first step in building a strong and sustained connection with that client.

Why make a good impression every time?

If the first impression sets the tone for your relationship with clients, every interaction you have with that client should live up to the expectation set by the first impression. By preserving that impression in future interactions, you prove it.

Keeping that high standard in every interaction shows how much you value these relationships. Let every client see that it’s not just about getting a new client, but keeping them as good clients, as well.

The first impression you give is what literally kicks off the relationship. And while most people know you should make that first impression the best you can, remember that every interaction you have with the client after that is just as important as the first. By working to keep every impression as good as the first, you can maintain mutually beneficial connections.

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Answering Services Keep Patients Connected to Their Doctors

Emergencies and medical issues happen at all hours. It is therefore essential for patients to be able to get advice from their primary care doctor or specialist when a concern arises about anything from a post-surgical fever spike to a sick child; even if the doctor’s office or clinic is closed. This is why answering services have become virtual members of a patient’s care team.

What do answering services do for the medical industry?

In addition to all the sophisticated and secure medical answering service software used to connect doctors with hospitals and to broadcast call outs and schedule alerts, one of the most well-known uses of answering services in the medical industry is to connect patients with their doctors out of hours. Patients are given the number to the doctor’s answering service to call, if needed, and the answering service connects with the doctor or nurse to call the patient back.

Why are answering services important to the medical industry?

When a patient is ill or injured in the middle of the night, it can be difficult to know whether to rush to the emergency room for care, or if it is something that can wait until the next day for a regular doctor’s appointment. By using answering services, patients can obtain the advice they need from a knowledgeable health care staffer without having to spend the time and money at an emergency room, only to find out everything is fine.

For patients with chronic conditions, an answering service lets them get the advice and care they need from their doctor’s team without disturbing their doctor at home any time of the night or day. It gives the patients peace of mind that they can get the answers they need, and takes the guesswork out of diagnosing their reaction to a medication by just Googling it.

Answering services are an important part of patients’ connections with doctors, ensuring they can get the medical answers they need when they’re needed. Round the clock support is integral to an effective medical care team.

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You’ll Get Great Mileage out of “Please” and “Thank You”

It seems that business attitudes are becoming more casual every year, and people’s behaviors in and out of the office reflect the mentality that offers more flexibility and less of an emphasis on professionalism. This is especially evident in how employees interact with other employees, as well as with clients. With a more informal attitude in the work place, along with the increase in online interactions rather than on the phone or in person, some people allow their manners to slip.

Why politeness matters

Elementary courtesy is under-valued. However, it is still vital to client relationships. When you are polite in your interactions, you show you respect people as individuals, as well as your business relationship with them. Using good manners in conversation shows you care about what they are saying and want to work with them, rather than simply trying to get through the conversation and be done with it! Being polite is also often associated with good customer service, which in turn strengthens client relationships and referrals.

How to use politeness to your advantage

An additional benefit of remaining polite in difficult conversations is that it helps you keep calm when dealing with a frustrated client or a tense situation. If you are able to stay calm, you are more likely to handle a stressful situation more effectively. Your politeness may actually rub off on the client you’re speaking with, helping calm them down as well.

Remaining gracious even if the client is angry, shows that you are respectful and working to solve the problem; rather than reacting emotionally and defensively. This helps you stay in control of the conversation and keep moving it forward, even if the client is stuck on a specific point.

Overall, despite your office’s casual dress code and your friendships with fellow employees, it is still important to stay polite and courteous when dealing with customers. Using good manners puts a good face on the business and helps improve your customer service. Good manners don’t take much effort, but they can take you far.

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How to Survive Bad Customer Service

Even the best customer service representatives can have a bad service experience with a customer. As hard as you try, it can’t always be avoided; so how you handle the aftermath of a bad experience is vital for moving forward.

Don’t pretend it didn’t happen.

The first thing you should do is address the bad experience. If you don’t, your customers will think you don’t really care, or that you’re trying to hide the truth to make your business look better. By addressing the complaint quickly, you show customers that you do care about their concerns, and will work with them to change their bad experiences into good ones.

Remember that word-of-mouth is powerful, good and bad. If you pretend a bad experience your customer had didn’t happen, not only will that customer tell others about the experience, but will tell others that you didn’t do anything about it either.

Fix the root problem for the bad experience.

It’s important to remember that criticism from customers, or “bad” customer service experience, may seem like it’s coming from someone who’s mad, but there may be a valid root issue that led to the comments. If you react to the customer’s emotion instead of finding out why they’re upset, nothing will change. You may help placate them, but the root problem still exists and can be the catalyst for future negative occurrences.

Repair the relationship with the customer.

Once you figure out the real issue and fix it, do what you can to show your customer you are committed to the business relationship you have. Think about what you can do as a business to reassure your customer about your dedication to them, and that you will continue to address any problems that arise in the future.

Customer service is not only about how you help your customers, but how you react to bad experiences, concerns and criticisms that arise. By addressing the problem quickly, taking steps to fix it, and doing what’s necessary to repair your business relationship with the customer, you can not only survive bad customer service, but turn a bad experience with a customer into a good one.

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Social Media Damage Control

In a world that hinges on technology, social media allows people to stay connected to each other, have information at their fingertips, and impact the world around them. While businesses use social media in a different way than individuals, it is still just as important to their customers’ overall satisfaction.

The role of social media in business

Social media started as a way for friends to connect with each other. As it grew, businesses began using social media as a way to connect with customers and prospects, perpetuate brand identity, and share valuable information. Product announcements, customer awards and news, and content marketing show up on customers’ feeds, keeping your business top of mind.

Because of the instant connection social media creates with customers, you can foster your business relationships better than is possible with other means of communication. When customers ask questions or have comments and concerns, you can respond right away on Facebook or Twitter. Customers can see you are paying attention to what they have to say, and that you want to have a conversation with them. Customers will remember that you wanted to connect with them.

Social media as a damage control tool

Social media is also a way to handle negative customer experiences and keep bad incidents from impacting your business and customer relationships. One key factor in battling negative customer experiences is reacting immediately. Social media supports that efficient turnaround.

Customers may use social media to express their discontent. You can use it to respond to negative comments right away, showing your customers you are listening, and that you care about their experiences. According to the article “Social Media Control Damage in Call Centers” by Francis Rey Balolong, customers who get follow-up through social media had an overall satisfaction rate almost twenty percent higher than those who did not receive that same follow-up.

You can also use social media to follow up after a customer’s bad experience to make sure they’re still happy about your business relationship, or if there’s something else you need to do to repair the relationships. By utilizing social media, your business can stay ahead of a negative customer experience, and use it to repair and strengthen customer relationships.

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Make Your Quality of Service Equal Your Hype

Whether through your own marketing efforts or by word-of-mouth from customers, people have certain expectations when they are in partnership with you.

Look at what you say about your business, as well as what others say about your business, to determine what customer expectations are. Knowing what customers expect to get from you will ensure you can meet expectations and keep customers happy.

How does your company live up to expectations?

The best way to foster good relationships with customers is to make sure that your quality of service is everything your customers expect it to be. When prospective customers start working with you, it’s important that their experiences match their expectations.

Make sure your customers’ expectations are met at every customer touch-point, from pre-sale through retention. Every time your business interacts with customers, it is an opportunity to make sure you give them a good experience. Don’t focus on only a few areas of interaction, but look at the quality of service you provide every step of the way.

Can you exceed expectations?

It’s wonderful to meet your customers’ expectations when they work with you. It is good business when your customers know that their business relationship with you will live up to the hype they have heard.

Once you know you can consistently meet expectations, you can take your business relationships to the next level by exceeding current expectations and setting new ones. You know what you can provide to your customers, so offering more will improve your service and strengthen your partnerships.

It’s great when your business has a good reputation that you can build on; however, as important as it is for your customers to speak well of your business, it is even more important that your actions with customers follow through with the hype. Make sure you provide the highest quality of service at every customer touch-point to meet and exceed expectations with customers. Then not only will you provide what your customers are looking for, but you can exceed expectations to strengthen and grow your business.

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Getting Customer Service Right the First Time

Automating business operations is a good way to streamline your business and become more effective in providing the services your customers need. And while automation can be a good tool to help your business reduce costs and improve revenue, some forms of automation can detract from the customer experience, which will have a negative impact on your overall business.

We live in a society that uses computers and automated systems for almost everything you can think of, including customer service. Reporting problems online or going through an automated phone menu allows customers to interact with a business without ever hearing a human voice. This can streamline the business process, but it can take away valuable customer touch-points that they want, even at the expense of their own convenience.

Although businesses use automation to try and make things more convenient for customers, many people are willing to sacrifice that convenience for the personal contact they get with a business. By talking to a person, they know they are getting the attention they want, and that their needs are being addressed right away, rather than waiting for a system to forward an email to the right person. This is especially true of customer service. Paul Sheard’s article on Time.com, “Take the Time to Get Customer Service Right,” addresses how companies can use automation and personal contact together for effective customer service.

Customer service should be an opportunity for customers to voice their thoughts to a business and know those thoughts are being heard and acknowledged. When customer service is automated, a customer doesn’t know that their concerns are being heard by anyone, or whether anything is being done to fix the issue.

With so many businesses turning to automation for customer service and anything else they can, making sure you take the time to provide the best service possible (with a human touch!) sets your business apart from your competitors who focus on convenience and efficiency.

Keeping in contact with your customers through quality customer service shows you care about their concerns, and the connection you develop through customer service strengthens your relationship with customers. It may not always be as efficient as automation, but taking the time to respond the right way keeps your customers happy, and ensures that you give them the best service possible.

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Call Center Partnerships

The partnership a business forges with other businesses is often essential to its success. Having a good partnership with a call center can prove a strategic business decision with a profound effect, regardless of the company size or venue. Despite the product or service, customers need high quality support to ensure things run smoothly. Call centers can provide that customer support your business needs.

Not only does an answering service provide the additional staffing your business may require to offer quality customer support, there are other benefits as well.

When relying on a call center for customer service, you can be sure that the representatives are highly trained to handle whatever questions or concerns your customers have. By outsourcing your customer support, you don’t have to take on the burden of the time and money to do the training. In addition, the cost of utilizing a call center is typically lower than hiring and maintaining the staff yourself.

Answering service centers also offer additional flexibility for your business, particularly if you are a smaller operation. Staffing customer service yourself may mean a limited number of representatives and hours, but a call center can provide many more operators, and a wider range of available hours. In fact, you may be able to offer your customers the support they need 24/7.

Another benefit of being remotely supported is that your business remains unaffected when an unexpected emergency or disaster threatens to take you off line. For example, if a tornado knocks out your electricity, your customers can still get the support they need when the calls are routed through the center.

Having a strong partnership between your business and a call center doesn’t only offer benefits to your customers. Outsourcing your customer support can have strong benefits for your business as well.

Whether your company is a small office with a handful of employees or a major corporation, you can be sure your customers have the support they need and the best experience possible, and you can continue to grow the kind of business you envision.

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Good Manners are Good Business

Though we have come a long way from copies of Emily Post’s etiquette books on shelves in the living room, everyone knows what good manners are. Even children at a young age begin to learn to be polite to others, by saying “please” and “thank you” and showing respect. Conducting oneself courteously helps get things accomplished, and helps everyone involved feel better about it.

Just as children are taught how to ask for a cookie or show appreciation when a friend is helpful, adults should know that politeness and good manners also go a long way in business. They help establish mutual respect, and usually help get things done more quickly than demands or a poor attitude.

Good manners can be especially effective in dealing with a difficult customer or coworker. Maintaining your politeness despite someone else’s bad mood and poor demeanor can help diffuse a potentially charged situation, and can help you reach a resolution more quickly. People often mirror the attitude of others, so if you’re sure to maintain a good attitude by being polite, chances are the other person will find themselves using good manners, as well.

Even as more of the business world becomes virtual through email, text messages and instant messages, politeness should still be a priority. In fact, when interacting with someone through email or other social media, it’s important to remember that the other person can’t pick up on any visual or verbal clues about your mood or attitude. This makes it even more important to ensure you are gracious. If you’re careless about your manners in emails, the reader might misinterpret something you write, which could have a detrimental effect.

Many people have heard the saying that “good manners don’t cost anything,” and when you use them, everyone benefits. By creating respect with customers and coworkers, you’ll diffuse potentially difficult situations and ensure that what you’re trying to say doesn’t get misinterpreted. All it takes is a respectful attitude as you deal with people in the business world – it tends to help everything run just a bit smoother.

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ATSI Awards: It’s That Time of Year Again

The Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) is the only national trade organization for the live telephone answering, voice mail and teleservices industry. ATSI provides national-level representation, as well as regional and statewide.

As a nationally known organization, ATSI’s voice is heard before the U.S. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, various state governments and regulatory bodies, as well as before telephone companies.

ATSI has been successful in identifying monopolistic advantages of phone companies and telling politicians of the danger of such advantages. The association is a force of protection for the marketplace of the telemessaging industry.

The ATSI Award of Excellence is a program that recognizes organizations in the teleservices industry judged as the best in providing public services in their field. Each year the member organizations are given the opportunity to participate.

The award is given after more than six months of testing by a team of independent, specialized judges contracted by ATSI to evaluate message services. The criteria for the award includes courtesy, response time, accuracy and overall client service; the four cornerstones paramount to success in the industry. We are proud recipients of the Award of Excellence for the past eight consecutive years.

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Spin Control: How to Get in Front of a Customer Complaint

Complaints are part of business. Even the highest rated brands and companies face complaints from customers. The key to success is not in avoiding complaints, but in how you deal with customer complaints when they happen.

The first thing to do is address complaints quickly. This includes acknowledging their complaint and, when needed, offering a resolution. If you ignore the complaint, it won’t go away. Instead, the customer will become more frustrated at not being heard. Addressing the complaint quickly shows that you care about your customer’s experience.

◾ When you address the complaint, think about the root of the complaint. This will help you resolve the situation, as well as help prevent it in the future.
◾ If you understand where the complaint is coming from, you can make adjustments to the business to keep it from happening again.
◾ There may be a situation in which a customer is complaining purely out of emotion, but most complaints stem from a specific experience or problem. The root of the complaint may help point to a problem in your daily operations that needs to be addressed.

As you work with the customer to address the complaint, take ownership of the customer’s experience. Even if you are not completely at fault for the issue that led to the complaint, accept responsibility for whatever your part was in it. Don’t try to pass the blame onto someone else, and don’t blame the customer. Offer a sincere apology for what happened. This shows that you recognize you aren’t perfect, but you’re willing to listen so you can change and improve your customers’ experiences.

Finally, make sure that all team members know how to handle customer complaints. It can be a difficult part of the job, but if employees are consistent in how complaints are addressed, customers will see that even negative aspects of their experience are treated with the same care and attention as anything else. This will help you turn a negative aspect of daily business into a force to further strengthen your customer relations.

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Call Centers in Cloud Systems

Cloud technology systems are taking call centers by storm by revolutionizing traditional call centers with software that functions as a multiple process support system.  Data is organized within a centralized system of virtually-linked information centers.  The call center operator may then access information from any location. Both the call center operator and the business they are supporting gain geographic flexibility by the Cloud’s expansive and supportive system.

 

 

 

The adaptability of Cloud functions allows companies that do not have on-premise IT resources to take advantage of virtualized call centers.

Operations are extended through call center assistance; this is especially useful for the start-up business with limited staff.  Further, virtual technology allows call center communication between multiple users simultaneously for real-time interactive productivity.

Savvy business owners who are on trend realize the advantages:

  • The blending of multiple sites accessed within one system delivers time-saving efficiency.  For example, in addition to the off-site operator’s ability to access company data for callers, an e-mail can be sent to alert management of requests or caller concerns.  Virtual functions allow accessibility to business matters from any inter-connected device in any location at any time.
  • Many large answering service companies now employ home-based call center operators, alleviating the cost of on-site agents. Home agents are connected to the same system that call centers access.  When the home operator is not at work, the call center is.  Business matters are never left unattended and new customer opportunities are monitored and quickly managed.
  • Call centers provide other money-saving advantages. The business using a call center with a Cloud system has control over call-center expenses.  Payment for service includes per-call or monthly charge options. The business owner may evaluate the extent of necessary support and then adjust payment arrangements accordingly.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of using call centers with Cloud technology is customer satisfaction.  Information accessed quickly that enables resolution goes beyond efficiency and straight on up to the level of outstanding company performance.  The ease of Cloud integration technologies is the hallmark of exceptional customer service.

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Call Back Technology Enhances Customer Service

No customer likes to wait on hold.  Fortunately, with continuing advancements in the way call centers can operate, staying ahead of the technology curve is the first and best attention to customer service call centers can provide.

For example, music on hold quickly loses its charm. The length of time one is subjected to it is typically in direct proportion to that customer’s dissatisfaction.  Invariably, the repetitive pre-recorded message stating that “Your call is very important to us.” loses all semblance of sincerity.

Regardless of the level of software advancements answering services companies can provide, a decent alternative to support clients is to offer a robust Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) website page.

While a wide assortment of topics can be addressed from return policies to store locations, oftentimes clients’ questions necessitate more complex answers than those provided by a static web page. Many consumers prefer resolution by means of a conversation with a call center agent. It also provides the opportunity to ask follow-up questions that pertain to their unique issue or case.

One way call centers are leveraging current technologies is through virtual queuing. It allows the caller to select an option to be called back when an agent is available. The hold time doesn’t change, but being subjected to the music and the frustration of physically  being on hold is alleviated.

Call back capabilities have even more benefits than improved customer service:

  • Call centers eliminate phone lines from being tied up to allow business to flow more productively.
  • Consumer interaction with minimal inconvenience makes for ease in managing business concerns without first having to focus on calming the caller’s emotional frustrations.

 

Today’s buyers of products and services tend to have limited time and high expectations.
Having options from an array of technologies keeps businesses in step, increases client retention rates, and offers the provision of superior customer service.

Advancements like call back services impress potential clients with a company’s genuine desire to be accessible, while showing current clients that their call really is important. Impressive customer service goes a long way on social media platforms.

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Cutting Edge Call Center Technology

Call centers implement new technological advancements to evolve with changing times. Just as businesses operate with current technologies to keep on trend, so must call centers.

While mobile devices allow customers to link into web sites to view data and transact business, mobile services also allow customers to contact call centers and communicate with agents when necessary. Consumers benefit by efficient digital services, and call centers are not overloaded with in-coming calls.

Call Answering Centers and Mobility
The ubiquitous Smartphone serves as a channel for immediate message receipt to keep business owners and associates up to date on everything from sales numbers to meeting reminders to actual participation in conference calls.

Phone applications are created and improved by call centers continually.  Customers use provided options so a wide menu selection allows greater navigation for answers.  Well-designed apps in Cloud systems also allow consumers to reach a customer service agent through a menu selection.  Some company menus operate by interactive voice response (IVR) to direct callers according to each verbal response.  Smartphones even offer an option to switch from audio IVR to a visual IVR menu. Callers can view ahead and navigate forward with the opportunity to bypass steps that shorten the call. This is time saving for the customer and cost effective for the business owner who is paying per phone call.

Call Center Agents
Always available to ensure that businesses are well represented and that communication flows smoothly, the operator in contact with a customer always gets the customer’s phone number in case the connection becomes disconnected. Additionally, direct contact with customers may also be emailed to mobile devices.  Cyber space connectivity encourages positive business relationships through speed, functional accessibility, and ease of assistance.

Technologically inter-connected capabilities also benefit businesses with real-time connections to employees.  New advancements allow information to be disseminated by call centers with speed and convenience to any location. More than ever, management and company employees can remain on trend with their customer activity to promote a seamless customer experience.

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Educated Call Center Operators

call centersAnswer Excellence is dedicated to exceptional customer service. Our call center operators are trained to answer clients’ needs within a virtual framework for optimum results.

 

 

 

 

  • They access integrated customer-related information collected from internal and external data bases to create a broad customer profile.
  • Intensive training on each client account ensures an easy familiarity with the company culture and detail.
  • When you add high-speed technology to the mix, call center operators provide fast access to useful information that powers personalized customer service.
  • Call center operators view customers’ past purchases, product recommendations, inquiries, and other customer information that includes personal notes in order to create a complete and individual profile.
  • Operators also monitor customer comments on sites such as Facebook and use the information to support the direction of communication.

 

The bottom line is that consistently maintained customer data and its instant availability allows call center agents to tailor calls according to specifics of each customer.

Communication between the educated call center operator and callers has evolved to become more of a personalized exchange of information that is both fluid and constructive.

The caller gains service specific to his or her needs while the operator has conversational leverage through existing account and external information.  This compilation of continually updated information promotes valuable service.  Communication based directly on accurate and current information sets a seamless standard of care, professionalism, and service that Answer Excellence call center operators are trained to provide.

Companies that constructively make use of customer data can provide superior customer assistance; assistance commensurate with today’s progressive business standards. Operators at Answer Excellence are trained to perform complete profile integration for effective customer service during every call.

The greatest asset for superior customer service is customer information and operator education. This steadfast proficiency is time-saving for the caller, the operator, and for the businesses we support. The educated operator’s use of conversational continuity derived by personal information ensures effectiveness and a fast turn-around call time.  At Answer Excellence, we take pride in our front-line operators who consider themselves the face of our client businesses. It is how they are able to truly answer with excellence.

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Call Center Training in a Virtual World

The implementation of new technologies within an ever expanding virtual world enables efficient communication between company employees, clients, and customers.  But quick service is only as effective as the level of communication.

Call center operators are in step with the transformative business practices that keep companies vibrant and viable.  Agents learn how to use valuable skills through client-specific training.  Often times, these new training tools are delivered by platforms untethered in a wireless world.

Models of virtual training allow new technologies and techniques to be taught by subject matter experts (SMEs) from any electronically connected location.  Integration of top virtual training excellence enables facilitators to effectively reach newly hired staff worldwide.  Outstanding comprehensive training by SMEs translates into comprehensive understanding and outstanding performance.

Blended traditional and virtual training models are often used by many organizations in a classroom-like setting.  In today’s highly competitive business environment, facilitators often combine teaching models to develop highly trained agents. The advantages of utilizing all available resources are evidenced in optimally trained staff that can represent your company with the highest level of professionalism.

Virtual Call Center Advantages:

  • Focus is on exceptional customer service using impeccable phone etiquette.
  • Agents represent each client’s cultural standards by professional communication skills.
  • Every call is handled by favorable people-management skills.
  • Your staff is free to be more productive with call center support.
  • Your business may be up and running 24/7 by professional agents.
  • All agents strive for the end-goal of interactive customer call satisfaction.

Examples of Virtual Call Centers:

  • Customer Service Agent:  assists callers in  need to help the client’s financial bottom line.
  • Virtual Sales Agent:  converts incoming calls into company sales orders.
  • Telemarketer:  calls potential customers to convert into established customers for sales or beneficial activity.
  • Technology Support:  assisting clients with trouble shooting and problem resolution

 

Your customers seeking service, employees needing support, and your revenue will be substantially enhanced by expertly trained call center operators who work for your specific needs.

Using the professional call center agent is as easy as a smart business strategy and a phone call to partner with a professional call center.  The virtual world never sleeps so neither should your business!

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The Call Center in a Recovering Economy

Every business must use practical planning tools to stay solvent in a recovering economy.  Modification to save expenses often causes businesses to overlook spending for cost effectiveness.  However, the bigger picture in financial planning with inclusion of a new, reliable, and proficient application can save expenses by an improved operational structure.

Call centers provide an administrative advantage for revenue enhancement and economic growth.

 

 

Representation
Your business is never left unattended with the call-center operator.  Operators are trained for front-line business representation tailored specifically for client and customer satisfaction.  Your profile is maintained, and your unique brand is promoted.   A consistent and solid depiction of your business builds the high profile that is necessary in a recovering economy while office administrators are free to attend to other pressing business.

Referrals
Word of mouth can make or break any business.  Today, with social media and instantaneous messaging, customers quickly and effortlessly spread their experiences and views of products and services.  Favorable comments may help to keep a business afloat, but outstanding company reviews are essential for growth.  The call center operator prioritizes client services for effective customer relations geared to establish repeat business and stellar customer referrals.

Increased Sales
Customers expect efficient and professional service, and the call center operator delivers solid customer relations for loyalty to your business’ brand.   Many times, customers will overlook slightly higher costs for customer satisfaction.  As loyal customers are established, revenue rises!

Productivity
Increased performance occurs when calls are immediately handled by call center agents.  Customers are not left on hold, forced through multiple transfers, or sometimes disconnected in a seemingly endless shuffle.  On-hold or call-back down time is eliminated with trained professionals managing immediate customer service practices.

Customer expectations are satisfied with consistent, stream-lined, and measurable reliability.  These are the customers who become brand loyal and referral advocates.  In a recovering economy, customers seek consistency and ease within business relations.   Call center agents are instrumental in providing such reliability.  Agents use excellent customer service practices to keep today’s growth expanding into the future.

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A Simple Formula to Increase Sales


As an answering service company, we fulfill many roles for our clients, from answering calls to routing specialized requests to online order taking for their products. We therefore devote a significant amount of time to training our associates on how to be the most effective possible resources. We keep our sales team on track by educating them on the value of collaborating for success with tools gained from professional conversational and response training.

 

Traits of top sales performers:

Product Knowledge:  Customers gain trust from sales associates who are empowered by authoritative knowledge.   Confidence then becomes established.   Once a command of pertinent and beneficial information is professionally expressed, sales are more easily closed.

Enthusiasm:  Potential clients assess everything, including a salesperson’s attitude.  If enthusiasm is flat, the customer’s attention is deflated.  But, enthusiasm is infectious, and customers will typically align with your object of passion when they sense excitement from its attainment.

Practice Verbal Communication:  Nothing says uncertainty more than a speaker stumbling over words.  With practiced communication, everything said is expressed with confidence.  Belief is charged within the potential customer who hears assured words.  The doubtless listener can be converted into a customer!

Collaboration:  It is important for every sales team to be united and dedicated to company goals instead of divided and driven by personal accolades or commission.  Individual strengths should be recognized and utilized in an effort to support overall team performance.  All members must remember that the overall bottom line collectively gained is what keeps the corporation buzzing and enables employment.

Teammate Critiques:  Supportive feedback among team players can provide useful insight.  The team member who does a critical analysis of constructive feedback can improve performance.   Newly shared techniques or suggestions may have previously gone overlooked.  The heightening of overall team performance develops when each member unites in an unbiased effort for all to excel.

Accountability:  Every employee must hold accountability for both successes and failures.  Responsibility for one’s actions and subsequent outcome acts as an internal learning tool.  Honest introspection within accountability provides an avenue for clarity that leads to personal and professional growth for  greater effectiveness.

Goal Setting:  The sales person who has goals has direction and an end point for success.   Progress can be gauged by productivity milestones set toward reaching an established goal.  All milestones must be strategized for attainability and support of a progressive path toward goal optimization.

A proficient answering services staff conveys a level of expertise that encourages customer alliance and delivery of profit.

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Contact Center Agents Merge Social Media Channels

Interplay between call center service professionals and social media is now a universal practice that is necessary to keep pace with the interconnectedness of an ever-widening consumer audience.  The customer service center that overlooks these culture norms can be headed for obsolescence.

Monitor Social Climate
Social media participation helps businesses keep in step with changes in consumer desires.  Comments, compliments, and complaints are all valuable information to determine new and emergent consumer norms and work toward structuring change to satisfy them.  The avenue to leverage your research and development is only a click away.

Progressive Customer Service Training
The quality of customer service is as good as the level of implemented training.  Call center agents must be properly trained in how to execute professional communication on social forums in order to represent company views and protocols.  Each corporate response stands as a professional reflection, making procedural training imperative for accurate representation.

The Magnitude of Electronic Networking
Electronic communication is sectored, but with wide-spread interconnectivity.

Internal Social Media:  The use of intranet capabilities allows specific employee access to departmental communications.  Corporate planning and organizational collaboration may take place with employees of varied locations who are involved in the same project.  The intranet saves the business valuable time and money by elimination of meetings and travel expenses.

External Social Media:  Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn are commonly used social media platforms for both business and personal activity.  Corporations that use outreach platforms communicate transparency of brand representation.   When employees are versed in proper social software communication, the business’ profile is promoted and can outshine competitors.

Professionally trained call center agents progress business operations by maintenance of communication sites and by responses to comments and inquiries with immediacy.  The virtual world continually changes and advances into an ever-evolving future.  The call center agent who is proficient in social media provides up-to-date communication skills to keep businesses interconnected for future survival.

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Answering Services and Collaborative Technologies

Answering services companies are integral to stellar customer support. But it is their own digital evolution that is essential to the ability to support clients in a contemporary marketplace.

The stereotype of an answering service that accepts calls from a company’s main number and takes messages is no longer the robust service demanded by the modern business.

What’s New in Call Answering Companies?

  • Custom-designed coverage to route calls and messages anywhere, anytime to anyone
  • Operators who are trained in the nuances of the company’s culture
  • Collaborative technologies
  • Mobile applications created to outfit specific industries
  • Alarm and emergency services notifications
  • Ability to receive calls and send messages based on complex algorithms:

Time of day routing
Skills based routing
Lunch or holiday party coverage
Busy time coverage
Vacation support
Coverage for specific products or services requiring special handling

What’s Unique About Today’s Call Answering Companies?

They exist as an extension of their client’s business. With targeted scripts and focused training, any company can virtually (and therefore transparently!) expand its workforce. Smaller companies can receive the coverage they need so they don’t miss out on opportunities for growth; and larger companies can receive the coverage they need so they are able to handle the increased volume.

Wireless and Locationless Translates to Limitless

The benefits of employing a progressive call center ultimately allows personnel in sales, management and administrative positions to stay better connected to customers, vendor associates and one another…the true definition of collaboration.

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Call Centers – Outsourcing Your Social Side

Phone Support for Solopreneurs

The exchange of ideas is as fast as the click of a send button. Businesses that don’t fully participate in certain technologies can stagnate and may not capture the client traffic they otherwise would. While not every call center application or network platform is right for every business, a company may be left in the dust by their competition if they are not harnessing the power of tools like call answering services.

Outsourcing Your Answering Services is a Competitive Business Strategy

Engaging with your target market is time consuming. One of the latest costs of doing business is hiring other companies to tweet and post on their client company’s behalf. The trend of hiring professionals to handle these communicative aspects of the business is often money well spent.

As a collateral support offering, call answering centers for example are no longer just sustaining the operation of medical centers and law firms that need to be accessible 365 days/year. To remain competitive, virtual call centers are brimming with clients who own smaller service businesses like electrical installation and plumbing repair.

While anything you ever wanted to know about anything can be Googled, having a live operator take an emergency call for a small business makes that business stand out and be remembered for their service.

Voicemail Just Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Solopreneurs running their companies with a laptop and cell phone – it can be done, (Steve Jobs started out with much less!), are more challenged than ever to meet the fast pace this decade demands. The support of an answering company provides the breathing room a business owner needs when they’re on the line and have a call on hold; or are in a client meeting and can’t answer a call. Missed opportunities add up. Forward-thinking companies choose virtual call centers to keep them effectively connected. Expediency is everything.

The hard work and good service provided by a business is easily returned when the face of the company is professionally presented. Take the worry out of winning and let the call coverage begin!

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Mobile Call Answering Services

Mobile devices and the ability to design message routing to them is an indispensable business tool. Call centers equipped to utilize web- and smart phone-based tools provide superior communication allowing operators to function as a true extension of clients’ businesses with the most instantaneous technologies possible.

Work-order Instructions:  Many times employees in the field need on-the-job assistance. Sometimes there’s confusion on a job site or a complex circumstance necessitating managerial intervention or additional dispatch. Immediate communication conveying expert assistance not only enables job completion, but assures customers that matters are handled in a timely fashion.

 

 

Adding call-center operators to the equation maintains the flow of communication:

  • Calls that could potentially go unanswered are intercepted and handled
  • Communication is streamlined creating greater efficiencies
  • Call-center operators know that communication is essential to goal achievement
  • Client success via communication is the call-center operator’s sole objective

 

Schedule changes:  Employee schedules may be quickly adjusted, or shifts may be switched, or emergencies arise that require staff to fulfill company objectives outside of normal operations.  Communication through mobile devices often eliminates time and travel frustrations by providing advance notice of a change in employee scheduling.  Operations run smoothly with minimal inconvenience when employees are up-to-speed.

Monitoring:  Employee movements may easily be monitored by connection to mobile devices.  Job productivity remains on track when employees are held accountable for designated work locations.  Also, if live assistance is needed, (such as in vehicle or equipment malfunctions), assistance is delivered quickly without location confusion.  Business and personal security are made stable by reliable connections.

Alerts:  Direction to call centers for specified alerts transmitted to mobile phones is also instrumental in smooth business operations. An alert may allow pro-active problem solving that avoids detrimental circumstances, or may influence a change in plans to enable greater efficiency.  Alerts keep the flow of business corresponding to in-the-moment changes, including emergencies.

Mobile devices support on-going business activities anytime and anywhere. Inclusion of call-center services to a business lends client and customer support. Readily available resources convey attentive professionalism and answer excellence!

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On Hold and Stressed Out!

How many times have you patiently waited on hold until your blood begins to boil?  Subjected to what is typically the worst of the worst in music selection (or very poor audio quality at best), the time spent is made even more interminable.

In fact, so many callers are made to wait on hold that an entire industry of call-waiting services exists to “soothe” frayed nerves.

Instead of listening to dead air, you can become a captive audience listening to messages about how wonderfully attentive the company you are calling is, or you may hear the biographies of significant employees, or all about the customer service awards they’ve earned. You may be made to listen to endless loops of marketing clips geared to boost their business – if you don’t hang up first!

Finally, a voice is heard that asks you to say or enter your account number.  At last, you think that you are getting somewhere only to be put on hold again!  The inconvenience of waiting has turned into a tortuous business-transaction pursuit.  Emotional and intellectual barrels are loaded, ready to fire at the first human contact who finally releases the hold button. Then suddenly, without any warning, you are disconnected!

Busy phone lines are so common that the on-hold industry maintains a solid foothold in business support. Yet still, the recordings designed to soothe nerves ironically serve to fan flames of customer frustration. What is most detrimental to the offending company is that no amount of recorded messages will defray the negative experience; not with blogs and social media as public platforms from which to air grievances!

ANSWERING SERVICES AND REAL PEOPLE TO THE RESCUE
Resolution exists in customer calls being answered immediately by call center operators. Companies that employ call-answering services circumvent the detriments of on-hold recordings. The live voice answering your phones extends a personable connection that conveys appreciation of the customer’s business and time.

An answering service operator saves time by providing the answers to any number of questions, taking orders, paging managers…whatever you need them to do. They will best support your callers and give them a better chance at becoming clients.

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Systems Integration Technology

On Call Schedule SolutionsCall answering services management flows smoothly using integrated technology. Proprietary and commercial applications software can rapidly deliver information to multiple parties. Action and/or resolution are accelerated when proprietors and clients are connected by this efficient exchange of data.  In today’s competitive climate, speedy communication is essential.

There are varied avenues of systems integration.  Call centers operate by implementing these time-saving technologies so that proprietors can put their business on the fast track.  Call centers represent each business with tailored services to meet individual and specific company objections. Technological functions utilized by effective operators include:

Customer Relations Management (CRM) is comprised of team members who interface with clients beginning with a courteous and friendly voice.  They are oriented to accurately represent particulars of each business, and they are dedicated to provide answers and action.  Transactions of product and service website orders or on-line appointment scheduling are prompt.   Business hours may never close with call-center customer-relations management.

World Wide Web (WWW) services allow call-center operators to order directly to web-based systems. The call-center operator is able to access critical customer-related information from company databases to answer questions and assist the client.  Web research of industry benchmarks can also help determine the most appropriate action for a client.

E-mail and Monitoring are widely used day and night to facilitate business initiatives. Employer-to-employee phone messaging allows for immediate schedule changes and ‘in-the-field’ dispatching. Employers can also monitor staff by mobile-phone tracking capabilities. Monitoring services similarly extends to other business providers.  For example, a home or health monitoring service quickly responds to transmitted emergency alerts.  The immediate response from a signal for help can avert potential threats or can be life-saving.

Integrated systems technology is the call center’s greatest arsenal.  However, it is the competent professional and business-oriented representative who adeptly employs technological tools for effective results. They meet speed demands and command a professional 24/7 hours back office. Call-center representatives combine systems technology with excellent customer service skills to support integration for success.

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Live Operators Disconnect Stress

How many times have you been frustrated by an endless loop of pre-recorded phone messages?  It is not always clear which option fits a particular personal need. Choosing “0″ for operator assistance sometimes re-directs the call back to the main menu.

Time is wasted and blood pressure rises as you cycle around into the seemingly endless list of automated options.  You’re back where you started and are no closer to getting anywhere.

 

 

Live call-center operators deliver satisfaction by quick human contact.

  • No more wondering if a recorded message is left on the correct extension.
  • No more waiting for that initial returned call for a personal connection.
  • The professionally trained operator acts as a safety net to prevent miscommunication, frustration, and lost time.

 

Dependability of call centers rests upon trained professionals. Operators are educated to understand the services of every business they represent to manage client concerns. They extend immediate attentiveness with courtesy, business transparency, and solution. Each call is handled with importance to provide effective and reliable 24/7 customer service. Gone are the days of communication restricted to the confines of specific business hours.

The advent of new technology continually improves customer-to-business communication. A streamline of information exchanges begin with the customer’s received call.  Essential information extracted by the skilled call-center operator is quickly sent to the appropriate location using the best-suited technology. Subsequent action then becomes executed with appropriate timeliness. For example, call-center operators are able to immediately transmit to a medical provider’s cell phone.  The sent message of a patient’s emergent condition alleviates stress of the patient, family, and loved ones who know a call for help is answered.

Customer relations are strengthened by reliability when the customer is never left unattended. The prudent proprietor makes sure that business never sleeps, and a call is never missed. While the office is bustling with activity, appointments are still scheduled or changed by the operator who picks up over-flow or after-hour calls.  Live operators promote assurance for both the business provider and the customer by their proficient on-going support. Call-center representatives handle matters immediately and relieve stress fast!

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Your Success is Calling!

Call center representatives know that connectivity to quality customer service extends the capacity for growth of every business served.  Operators trained to shine a light of professional integrity reflect high business standards.  They project a tone of commitment to care and quality. Call center representatives help to engage current and potential clients. They provide immediate gratification.

 

The good news is that proprietors have multiple opportunities to connect with clients, customers, and colleagues. Advancements in technology allow call center operators to function far beyond the act of simply answering a ringing phone. Besides taking over-flow calls, services can include: order entry, customer service, e-mail monitoring and dispatch, on-call scheduling, and virtual receptionist representation.

Progressive call centers represent each business by projecting their unique and identifiable characteristics.  Emphasis may be placed on culture, product, service or a combination of multiple company aspects. The proprietor determines the flavor of marketing while the professional operators rise to meet the caller’s needs according to specific practices outlined in the initial assessment of how the call center should work for services like: out of hours support, vacation coverage, order entry and the hundreds of other ways call answering services can provide support. Nothing severs ties faster than lack of communication and unsatisfied needs.

On-going customer connectivity has numerous benefits.  Customers, clients, and associates keep the business in mind that stays connected.  Each well-directed communication promotes a business-to-customer relationship that – when serviced well – often results in customer dedication. Satisfying customers also has a domino effect. Connected customers have connections too.  Their new business could become yours! An entire community of customers dedicated to your product or service suggests repeated consumerism and growth.  Every connection can be a call to your success!

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Customer Retention Idea: Tips for Effective Newsletters

As an answering service company in Clearwater we provide call answering services for attorneys and businesses of all sizes and specialties. It’s always interesting to see how different companies promote their business and keep potential clients in the pipeline.

In particular, our call center operators receive calls commenting on how much people have enjoyed some of our clients’ monthly newsletters. The most valuable thing about these newsletters is their ability to provide helpful information; not to simply serve as an advertisement.

As far as a newsletter’s frequency, that should probably be dictated by your client base and what they will tolerate! Inboxes today are brimming with information; you don’t want to spam your clients, but you also don’t want to contact them so infrequently they forget about you when they have a need for your service. For many companies, a monthly newsletter will do just fine.

Now the hard part…what should you write in the newsletter itself?

Mention awards your company has won. Every year that Answer Excellence has won The Association of Teleservices International (ATSI) Award we have wanted everyone to know about it! Not only do mentions of awards give your company credibility, it always feels good to share accomplishments with others.

Write about the state of the company. What’s new at the office? For example, we here at Answer Excellence might write about new clients we are supporting or mention the anniversaries of long standing employees.

Provide a helpful tip. An organization company could include time management tips, a home decorator could mention ways to use color in a room, or a nutritionist could write about how to practice good eating habits during the holidays.

Link to an article or a blog post. Anything in the news you think would interest your clients could go here. Include a comment about the story or blog post and maybe include the first sentence or two of the piece with a link directing them to the story.

Offer specials. You could include a free consultation or a percentage off goods and services.

Basically, best practices would dictate that you observe the rules of permission-based marketing, and you respect your clients’ time by providing useful detail about your area of expertise.

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Keeping Your Clients is Up to You

Out of sight, out of mind? It’s just as true for businesses as it is for anything else.

When you are not working with your clients, they are not thinking of you nearly as often as you hope they are.

Plumber’s Answering Service

For example, just because you were the trusted plumbing company that fixed the leak under the sink this month, doesn’t mean you will be top of mind next month.

How can you get your clients to keep being your clients? You have to stay on their mind. Not only will this ensure they remain your clients, it may get you some referral business – especially if they can share that their plumber’s answering service will get a dispatch out in an emergency situation any time, day or night!

Here are some simple ways to remind your clients you are there for them:

  • Send a follow up email or postcard after your business transaction is complete. Let them know you appreciate their business and that if they need anything else you will be there for them.
  • Handle complaints quickly and effectively. When a client is dissatisfied with how you handle the situation it can determine whether or not they will ever work with you again.
  • Send out a press release to the media on something newsworthy. For example, when bed bugs were in the news, cleaning companies were popping up all over as experts in getting rid of them. Think about how your business can help with an issue in the media and step up as an expert.
  • Sponsor events for charity. Not only is this a tax write off, but it will leave a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart.
  • Use social media! Get on Facebook or Twitter and connect. Post articles you find in the news or helpful tips that may be beneficial to your clients.
  • Send a “thinking of you” gift. Something as simple as an email or postcard with a percentage off your normal prices in their birthday month shows you care.

 

You don’t have to spend a great deal of your marketing dollars to remind clients you are open for business, but be assured that not being on their minds when they need you will cost you their business.

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How to Market Your Service

A Real Estate Answering Service is the KeyThink of the last time you bought a product. You could do one of three things: go online, go to a store or you could go to a trade show/product demonstration.

Now think of the last time you needed to hire someone for a service. Whether it was hiring a real estate answering service or just choosing someone to give your car a tune up, you had to: get referrals, research the company, compare prices, etc. Basically, it’s just not as easy as comparing products.

Because it’s not as easy to buy a service as it is to buy a product, many service-based business owners find that marketing their company is difficult. However, with the right plan, you can market your service just as easily as a product. It comes down to consistent branding for recognition and the actual support to keep up appearances and provide stellar customer service.

Once the decisions about logo design, collateral materials and a target audience are defined, now comes the challenging part – what tasks do you delegate, which ones remain in house?

Real estate call centers are valuable to capture clients from multiple time zones.

Just because the clock strikes five in Clearwater doesn’t mean a San Francisco buyer wants to reach a voice mail as they plan their home-seeking trip to Florida.

While it’s a great problem to have that once your marketing efforts get noticed and all the strategizing pays off, what happens when no one can answer the phone because all your agents are out showing properties? (And you know that’s always when that cash buyer calls!) But you can be there when they are when you have a Tampa call center behind you. Cell phones may have revolutionized the real estate business; but they are simply not enough.

The more creative you can be in your marketing and in your ability to literally support that client base, the more room you’ll have to expand and actually, the more you’ll enjoy your business. Stress can really take the fun out of the game – and that’s when it becomes work.

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Answer Excellence: Better Than the Rest

We are not the only answering service in the world, but if you are seeking highly skilled, award-winning resources to support your company we must admit we are the ones to beat!

Our systems and processes are fully documented, tested, and audited on a regular basis.

Our Automated Voice Services, Live Operator Services, Email Monitoring, and Secure Messaging Services are HIPAA compliant. We truly live up to our name by continuously striving for excellence by thoroughly training and testing our employees, using the latest technologies, and ensuring we tailor our answering services to match the requirements of our customers.

With 25+ years of experience in the communications industry, you will receive professional, high-tech services that will fit any business need.

Timing is Everything
How you receive the messages from your inbound calls is up to you. Here are a few of the ways we can deliver messages:

  • Call you directly on one or more telephone numbers
  • Leave a voice mail message for you to call the service
  • Send an Alpha-Page
  • Send a Digital Page
  • Send Text Messages
  • Send via E-Mails or Faxes
  • HIPAA-compliant Secure Messaging
  • Custom protocols can also be designed
  • Call Answering Services: Not Just for Hospitals Anymore

 

While 80% of our businesses are in medical industry, we are experienced at designing answering solutions for every industry.

Our current clients include:

  • Attorneys, including Referral Services
  • Insurance Carriers
  • Small Business Owners
  • Realtors and Real Estate Management
  • Online Retailers
  • Retail Fuel Service
  • HVAC Providers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Private Investigators

We Spread Your Message

When our employees work on your account they can either let your inbound callers know they have just reached an answering service or they can act as an extension of your company. Either way, our employees are trained in every aspect of your business so we communicate what you want us to say when speaking to your callers.

We are Award Winning

Answer Excellence has been honored with the coveted ATSI Award of Excellence for the past eight years. This award is given annually to answering companies that receive the highest grades possible on a precise set of criteria. Thanks to our consistently stellar performance, you can be confident in our ability to serve you and your clients.

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Professional Phone Answering: Does the Solution Fit Your Company?

Whether you’re a small business that requires additional support or an operation in need of 24×7 coverage; when considering the use of a phone answering service, it is good practice to take stock of your requirements to determine how best one would assist your potential clients.

Some Things to Consider:

  • How often does your phone normally ring? Does it ring so often that you can’t actually get any work done? Perhaps you are a photographer shooting a wedding, a private practice physician or a Realtor showing a house and can’t always get to the phone immediately.
  • What questions do people usually ask when they call you? Are there common questions that are frequently asked every time the phone rings? Do you find yourself providing the same information consistently when your time could be better spent on other things?
  • Do you have set prices and product/service information? Does your inventory revolve, change, sell out regularly?
  • What is your goal when the phone rings? Are you selling a product or a service? What do you want your customers to know about?
  • How much business do you need to generate? What are your year-end goals?
  • Where do you see your company in six months, a year, five years or more?
  • How many appointments can you schedule in a day? How much money can your appointments translate into to attain your business goals?
  • Are there promotional specials your customers need to know about? Do you plan to offer seasonal deals or holiday sales?

 

You may find that after answering all of these questions you don’t need a call center at all.

However, if you do find that a professional phone answering company would benefit your business, it will help to have a clear plan with a set list of goals. This will not only assist with solidifying your business plan, it will help you to provide your team of operators the detail required to represent your company. Putting the professional face that fits your organization is what will set you apart from the rest.

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The Upside of Outsourcing

We’ve found that many businesses experience trepidation when they consider outsourcing aspects of their business. This may be particularly true when it comes to an automated answering service. The images of a call center filled with people who are unfamiliar with the nuances of your business can certainly be cause for concern.

A business call center doesn’t have to be a negative experience though. The “right off the bat benefit” is that when potential clients call a business they are seeking someone knowledgeable enough to answer any of their questions or at least take a good message.

The technological irony is that our culture has become somewhat exhausted with the benefits of automation. Anyone who has spent chunks of time pressing buttons only to be routed to a general mailbox greeting, or has dealt with the frustration of voice activated menus that transfer you to the wrong place will find a legitimate human voice at the end of their call a most welcome experience.

At Answer Excellence, every operator assigned to your account is trained in the aspects of your business to field the calls by responding accurately and professionally. By training our operators and testing them on their comprehension of your business we ensure that they feel genuinely connected and will know how to handle inquiries or issues.

You Write the Script

Instead of a simple script with yes and no answers, our clients write their own scripts and references for how to handle inbound callers. Equipped with frequently asked questions (including details like directions to your office for example), your virtual answering service integrates into your operation so potential clients feel they are literally in touch with your company.

You Get Every Message

Once the inbound caller has completed the call with the outsource agent, the full discussion can be sent to you however you choose to receive it. Whether you decide to have messages emailed, faxed, texted, or via methods based on specific circumstances, you will know everything that went on while you were unavailable. Our automated answering services support you to better support your business.

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How to Give Great Customer Service

Call Answering Services: Making it Happen

With the speed of social media, it is easier than ever for people to find out whether or not they want to hire your company or call your competition. Here are four tips on improving your customer service:

Keep the Promises You Make: Reliability is essential to any relationship. Companies that don’t do what they say rarely stay in business long; but sometimes meeting a commitment is just impossible. If you are reliant on another entity to deliver your product for example, add enough time to cover their potential delay. If your long distance courier has a problem it’s still your problem. If something does go wrong, be honest about it and just don’t let it happen again. Take all potential factors into consideration before you give any promise; nothing erodes consumer confidence more than a broken one.

Incorporate Feedback: Perhaps you send surveys out after a project is complete or you ask trusted clients to assess how your company handled a particular situation. Operating in a bubble will never allow your company the growth it requires to provide excellent products or services. Take the good and the back feedback and expand or develop your policies as you grow. If a disgruntled employee or client offers criticism,  consider the context but look deep enough to see if there’s any value in their critique; it could be invaluable.

Listen to Complaints and Handle Them: The worst thing you can do for an angry customer is nothing. Again, with social media being the go-to place for people to share their experiences, the last thing you want is someone complaining about how they were treated and how you did nothing to help them solve their problem.

Hire an Answering Service: Sure, considering the fact that we run an answering service company this tip may seem self-serving, but it’s also an important thing to think about for the sake of your business and customer service. When a client or potential client calls a company, they want answers. They need information right away and if they can’t get it from you, they will look elsewhere. If you are unavailable to take that call it could lead to a missed sales opportunity.

While there are some clients who will never be satisfied no matter the efforts expended, the company that does its best to manage expectations with honesty and integrity always wins in the end.

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Call Answering Services – Keeping Tampa Bay on the Move

In an area burdened with congestion, expansion and detours, our answering services company is literally at the hub of the traffic snarls and police activity. We like to think of it as keeping Tampa Bay’s wheels in motion!

When driving through the tri-county area, tourists and commuters are met with road construction that includes lane-widening projects alive with workforces from surveyor teams to forklift operators. One simple solution to keep traffic moving while keeping everyone in the know is our call answering service.

Our custom software allows for the collection of information as well as the broadcasting of this information in a multitude of ways; basically, any form the municipality deems fit: announcements about specific road closures, reports about the impact of accidents, even special events notices to inform of traffic pattern changes and anything else repair crews, the public and the media need to know.

Our answering service company has been able to offer centralized communication services to assist local city departments in coordinating these efforts. And because every area has unique needs, (depending on how urban or rural the community), there are always new ways we can support any town in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Give us a problem and we’ll design a way to get the calls answered and the information to those who need it most!

If a planned or unexpected detour will have an effect on an event or on an employee’s commute, we’ve got an answer for that too. Our Internet answering services are always connected, fully customizable, on the job 24/7. We are here as the voice of sanity when everyday events get in the way of progress.  Our system, your situation, customer satisfaction…success!

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Internet Answering Services: Answers at All Hours

Internet Answering Services are a staple in the medical industry; their patients have time sensitive needs. But on call answering services are no longer just a means to provide critical care in emergencies; no one wants to wait for anything anymore.

Service providers of heating and air conditioning and plumbing need to be ever-accessible to edge out the competition. By offering emergency services they have an opportunity to be available whenever a pipe leaks or a compressor fails in a heat wave. They also have the opportunity to charge a premium rate for that late night dispatch and the chance to earn a new client’s trust.

 

The Challenges of Better Quality Service
Along with this emergency service however, comes the need to manage it. When a plumbing company advertises that technicians are available 24/7, they’ll get a lot of calls inquiring about everything from rates to an assessment of the problem. Sometimes money is no object and the only question is “how fast can you get here?” and sometimes the potential client wants more in-depth information and has a list of questions that range from rates to references. While those calls may very well result in a job, they can be a time waster and not the most welcome call at three in the morning.

Telephone Answering Services: Just the Facts Please
Collecting customer detail such as the location of the problem, the credit card information and the nature of the complaint is also a time consuming process; especially if your on-call technician is asleep!

We’ll automatically dispatch the trouble call in keeping with your coverage schedule and provide a completed work ticket with all the detail so you or your plumber can just grab the tools and go! Our operators are up all night so you don’t have to be.

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Internet Answering Services – Bridging the Gaps

Internet answering services can provide interim solutions in all sorts of scenarios.

While most of our clients seek more permanent resolutions for everything from live telephone answering services to on-call scheduling, there are times when the need is more temporary in nature.

 

Call Answering Services – Reliably Seamless
Transparency for example, is essential in the case of company mergers or division spin-offs. While these changes may signify an internal restructuring that doesn’t alter the way your company does business, call answering services help maintain that “front” to the outside world.

Routing calls and keeping information flowing is key to maintaining a consistent face to your client base during transitional periods. Through a mix of online technologies and proprietary software your workforce won’t miss a beat.

Our operators and professional resources can support any Internet answering services virtually:

1. Enter orders directly into your web-based system or look up information for customer service functions.
2. Maintain on-line calendars for appointment scheduling for ease of sharing between diverse staffs.
3. Capture and enter leads directly into web-based Customer Relations Management (CRM) applications.
4. Monitor equipment alerts and dispatch service technicians.

Stepping it Up to the Next Level of Integration

By designing applications to communicate directly with each other, you’ll achieve even more advanced functionality:

5. Answer Excellence provides our Consult Manager™ service, which integrates with hospital information systems to relay orders for doctor consultations. Through the use of encryption software (including Virtual Private Network (VPN) and TLS/SSL secure web technologies), we create a secure and reliable exchange of confidential information.

Square pegs and round holes don’t work – it is customized integration that makes things fit. We believe a synthesis of commercial applications and custom technologies combined with your company’s culture and operational needs produces optimum temporary and/or permanent solutions.

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Telephone Answering Services: Keeping Up with Technology

As on call answering services go, a good deal of this service category’s success is found in its flexibility. We’ve kept our call answering services relevant by serving them up on platforms that support the real world. And that real world never stops spinning…

Answering Services That Answer Back
Although we provide Internet answering services to any industry or business owner in need, our first clients were in the medical field. Urgent care and time sensitive situations ruled long before smart phones provided instantaneous two-way communication. In those days you sent out a page and the doctor bolted for the nearest phone.

Call Answering Services on the Go
Today, mobility drives the requirement for flawless bilateral accessibility: answering services companies are no longer in the message taking business; we’re high tech communicators in the cloud. Because of the velocity with which the technology changes, companies in the call answering business can’t always just pick a product from the shelf, dust it off and make it fit the client.

Much like social media helps to shape decisions companies make; the contemporary answering service company gives the reigns to its clients. “What do you need?” is the first order of business – then the technology/service/application is designed to suit. Customize to communicate – the client is at the helm more so than ever before.

Message Delivery
Our clients decide how they’re informed and what methods suit their operation; down to specific individuals in it. Multi-layered and robust communications structures are essential to modern support offerings. And if secure messaging is mandated then we comply with those information security and confidentiality concerns; especially with regard to HIPAA / HITECH regulations.

When you drive the communication that steers a company, you need to know how to take direction from your client, follow the rules of their road and swiftly get them from Point A to Point B.

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Call Answering Services: Where Does it Hurt?

On Call Schedule Solutions

A better customer service experience and cost effective solutions are the motivating factors that typically compel companies to seek the support of an answering service company.

These fixes are in direct response to “where something hurts” on a company. For one of our customers, their pain was cost. We therefore customized a remedy.

ISSUE:
A large cardiology practice in Clearwater Florida needed to cut costs.  After a thorough review of their internal processes, it was discovered that their busy practice made numerous changes throughout the month to their on-call calendar.  The answering service was spending too many hours keeping up with the requests and updating their changes.

The practice therefore needed a customized and secure process to update their on-call schedule in order to reduce the time and expense associated with the answering service making these changes.  They needed a scheduling interface that could reflect different job functions and the hours that specialized resources were available.

SOLUTION:
Our on-site software engineer created the On-Call Manager™. Instead of a static spreadsheet updated from faxed pages, this living document was developed based on algorithms that produced dynamic and up-to-the-minute detail.

Designed as a webpage, their once labor-intensive process was transformed into a virtual road map that allowed both administrative and “view only” privileges.

RESULT:

  • Cost savings – the paper-driven fax machine was expensive to operate.
  • The “paper trail” emitting from the fax machine was eliminated and the password protection resolved the security issue.
  • The solution reduced the amount of resource hours spent doing manual administrative tasks when their time was better spent on patient care.
  • The On-Call Manager™ removed a point of failure by alleviating the potential for entering errors into the system from the hard copy faxes.
  • The software solution provided accurate tracking and a login history that could be analyzed.

 

The On-Call Manager™ product can now be optimized for any Answer Excellence client and even has the functionality to send out on-call reminders and emergent alerts on an as-need basis. Overall, it was the perfect solution for a unique problem.

 

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Answer the Phone! Your Competition is Just a Google Away!

Loyalty is earned. Every business owner knows that if you provide excellent service at reasonable prices and put your clients’ needs first, you have a pretty good shot at the coveted customer for life. And it is of course these core clients who become your sphere of influence: your advocates, the perfect referral-producing machine.

It all sounds pretty logical, but obviously the hardest part isn’t getting these clients to that stage in the lifecycle, but acquiring them in the first place.

Consumers search the Internet for everything from real estate to dog groomers to call center services. But if they need to reach out and connect with a representative of a company to perhaps discuss personal matters with a divorce attorney or to get more information about a new product line and they receive a busy signal or voicemail…they will most likely move on to the next resource.

That’s because a list of your competitors is probably endless; if you Google a search term like Tampa Attorneys for example, Google will return 1.3 million results.

Potential clients need instant gratification while potential providers of goods and services need to be accessible. It’s a 24×7 world. And loyalty doesn’t kick in until you have impressed the heck out of a client over a period of time.

So how do you differentiate yourself in a search engine optimized world? Answer the phone!

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The 6 reasons why adding a 3rd shift customer service team makes good business sense.

In today’s economy business owners have been forced to become more creative. Trying to increase sales and reduce expenses has been the strategy employed for decades. But today the answer may be found by asking “What happens when my business closes for the day? Does the phone still ring in an empty office?”

Can you afford to miss even one or two calls? Outsourced 3rd shift customer service can keep your business open 24/7. No more announcing to the world “We’re Closed.”

By outsourcing your third shift customer service:

  • Customers have immediate access to a real person
  • You have the ability to make sales 24 hours a day
  • You can provide customer service, answer questions, give product information, provide assistance or instruction , offer first level help desk function or dealer location information
  • You eliminate the cost and hassle of managing an in-house night shift
  • You have peace of mind knowing that urgent calls are being handled immediately, per your instructions.

 

The ability to be there for your customer around the clock can be a huge differentiator between you and your competition. Your company can easily achieve that advantage with the right outsourcing partner.

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Eight Considerations: Answering Service & Contact Center Pricing

If you’ve ever compared the price of answering services, you’ve probably seen a variety of rate plans and fee schedules.  This list of common types of charges may help you make sense of the various price plans.

1. Operator Time Rate (per minute): You pay for the amount of time that operators are on the phone talking with your callers, or otherwise working on your behalf. In some way, all rate plans include operator usage as a determining factor in cost because operator wages are generally the single largest cost component of live service.

2. Flat Rate: You pay a fixed amount per cycle, regardless of how many calls or how much operator time is involved. Not all services offer flat-rate billing due to the amount of administrative overhead involved in re-negotiating rates based on operator usage trends.  This method of pricing encourages the answering service or contact center to get clients off the phone as quickly as possible.  Customer service quality often suffers as a result.

3. Per-call Rate: You pay per call, regardless of how much operator time is involved. “Behind the scenes”, the true cost of operator time is a major influence in determining the per-call rate for a particular client.  Per-call rates can create an incentive to rush your callers off the phone as quickly as possible.

4. Unit Billing: Price is based on the number of inbound or outbound calls, messages taken, e-mails sent, calls patched, or other discrete units of service. See note above about how this rate is influenced largely by operator time.

5. Patch Time Rate (per minute):  Patching is a live call transfer.  An operator places a caller on hold, calls out to a client team member, and connectes the calls together for a conversation.  This rate is usually lower than the live operator rate, since the patched call involves use of telephone resources but does not incur operator costs once connected.

6. Ancillary charges: Optional features can involve extra charges. Examples include use of tools for appointment scheduling, tracking on-call schedules, and pass-through charges for long distance or inbound toll-free service.

7. Monthly vs. Four-Week Billing: Invoicing is usually done either by calendar month or by four-week period. There are 13 four-week periods in one year. Four-week invoicing generally yields more consistent invoice amounts since the same number of days are in each period, whereas months vary in length.

8. Setup fees: Gathering all the information and setting up a complex account can be quite an undertaking, and a smooth implementation depends on it being done right. Most services charge a fee for this process, based on account complexity, so that they can afford to focus their senior staff on this crucial one-time step.

It’s important to realize that operator time is a primary component in any live operator service plan, regardless of how it is presented on an invoice. Quality service depends on hiring, training, and retaining qualified employees who must be compensated accordingly. Often, you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.  Have you heard of any other types of answering service or contact center pricing?

Photo credit:  Flickr Creative Commons, user Squeaky Marmot.

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9 Questions About HIPAA Text Messaging Compliance

Yikes, these new HIPAA fines are scary – up to $ 1.5 million and even including prison sentences! Ignorance of the law will not be an excuse. If you’re receiving PHI on your phone, you’re probably in violation of the law.

How can you protect yourself? To avoid being in violation, be sure that you know the messages you receive are sent in a secure fashion. This includes messages from your office, your answering service, your hospital, or any other entities that would include PHI in a message sent to you.

 THE 9 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN SHOPPING FOR A HIPAA-COMPLIANT SOLUTION

  1. How easy is the solution for me to use?
  2. Does it require any special smart phone?
  3. What will happen if I don’t receive a message?
  4. Do I have to log in to get each message?
  5. Are my messages stored if I need them later?
  6. Will I pay more for this secure messaging?
  7. Do I need special equipment or software for my phone or office?
  8. Is there a limit to the size of my text message?
  9. Is it possible to have special handling for urgent messages?

Fortunately, today’s technology offers solutions that provide security along with other benefits.  These mobile message solutions can operate securely over the internet and on mobile smart phones using the same technology that allows for secure online shopping and banking.

An expanded version of these questions, including more detailed considerations, is available at HIPAA Text Messaging.

Photo credit:  Flickr Creative Commons, user Orin Zebest.

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Call Answering Services – Keeping it Real

Text messaging has spurred an entirely new language; one where acronyms substitute for entire sentences and you can “laugh out loud!” while in transit.

There are tons of applications that get messages across; we use them ourselves. But no matter how sophisticated modern communication becomes, the one mainstay is manners. It’s the only thing that is “traditional” about our Clearwater answering services company.

We’ve actually merged the best of both worlds — customized call routing designed with technologically advanced software in association with the warmth and professionalism of an actual person.

We just don’t see telephone etiquette and the human touch really going out of style:

  • Have you ever gotten all the way to “Press 9 for all other questions” only to reach another sub-menu — only to be disconnected?
  • Have you ever called for more information and just keep getting voicemail?
  • Have you ever dialed a customer support number and felt like you were being rushed off the phone when you still had a few more questions?
  • Have you ever yelled “Representative!”  to a machine that apologized for not “recognizing your request”?

 

We’re in the business of keeping the human side of your business in operation. We’d hate your clients to be subjected to any of the above. We hate it when we’re the person who has to talk to a phone system that lacks empathy, genuine support, and intuition.

It may sound old-fashioned, but we like people.

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Attorney Answering Services

A legal answering service is essential for any law firm because potential clients can find themselves in need of guidance at any hour.

Since a crisis can’t be handled by a voicemail system and waiting until regular business hours is not always an option; a legal call center service can be on the front line for your law practice to take emergency calls in the middle of the night.

An Attorney Call Center service:

  • Provides personal attention on behalf of your firm
  • Makes the critical first impression
  • Exhibits professionalism because your firm cares enough to address out of hours coverage
  • Is much more reliable than routing your main number to a cell phone at 5 PM

 

For medical crises, people can dial 911; but the only option for time sensitive legal issues is a legal answering service that will connect professionals to their clients.

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Attorney Call Center Services

Your Port in a Storm

An attorney call center service is a tremendous asset to any law office; but these services also prove themselves invaluable in the event of storms or natural disasters that impact normal business operations.

Most law firms provide their employees with remote access so they can work from home when they have no means of getting to the office.

But legal call center services can:

  • Support your inbound call traffic
  • Advise your clients of alternate meeting locations
  • Serve as a disaster alert hotline

…so your employees know whether they should brave the elements or prepare for a company-wide conference call.

Today’s sophisticated legal call centers can design applications customized for any scenario, including holiday and vacation coverage.

With this brand of support you can literally maintain a 24/7 operation; a law office where your client calls are always answered and your employees are kept informed and safe.

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Attorney Call Centers

Get it Right the First Time

Smart phones fuel the velocity required to keep up with a world that spins faster every day. While being consistently accessible can border on intrusive, it goes with the territory for those in the medical, legal, and communications industries.

The real issue with technology in mission critical scenarios is the need to intelligently synchronize all these sleek messaging tools into one overall plan so as to connect the right resource with the right client at the right time.

Attorney call center solutions are an ideal example as they provide a virtual hub designed to support the structure upon which the law firm is based. For example:

  • A “round robin” design can be developed to deliver messages and client detail to each attorney on a pre-determined rotation schedule
  • Domestic and international time zones can be factored into multi-regional operations to alert the right people during their respective “regular business hours”
  • A skills-based routing program can be constructed so specific client issues can be appropriately steered to anyone from a junior associate to the DUI specialists to the managing partner of the law firm
  • Any combination of language specialties, areas of expertise, or geographic desirability can be developed into a profile so the caller speaks to the right person the first time

Technology can be a tremendous source of frustration (like when voice recognition software doesn’t understand you and directs you to the wrong department!); but a true master plan built around a legal call center service will effectively match the professional with the client.

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Automated Answering Services

Answer the Phone! Your Competition is Just a Google Away!

Loyalty is earned. Every business owner knows that if you provide excellent service at reasonable prices and put your clients’ needs first, you have a pretty good shot at the coveted customer for life. And it is of course these core clients who become your sphere of influence: your advocates, the perfect referral-producing machine.

It all sounds pretty logical, but obviously the hardest part isn’t getting these clients to that stage in the lifecycle, but acquiring them in the first place.

Consumers search the Internet for everything from real estate to dog groomers to call center services. But if they need to reach out and connect with a representative of a company to perhaps discuss personal matters with a divorce attorney or to get more information about a new product line and they receive a busy signal or voicemail…they will most likely move on to the next resource.

That’s because a list of your competitors is probably endless; if you Google a search term like Tampa Attorneys for example, Google will return 1.3 million results.

Potential clients need instant gratification while potential providers of goods and services need to be accessible. It’s a 24×7 world. And loyalty doesn’t kick in until you have impressed the heck out of a client over a period of time.

So how do you differentiate yourself in a search engine optimized world? Answer the phone!

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Answering Service Provider Centralization

Multiple Locations, One Answering Service

Many health care organizations such as Hospitalists, Home Health Care Providers, and Medical Group Practices have multiple locations throughout a region, a state or throughout the United States. Multi-branched organizations can realize benefits by consolidating call center services with a single provider.

Consider the following five advantages of using one contact center as opposed to multiple call centers:

  1. Centralized training of the staff achieves consistency and helps control cost.
  2. Quality control is more easily monitored with a single point of contact.
  3. Your branding is consistent with a well-written unified message.
  4. Enterprise analytics from one source can provide data necessary to forecast company trends and measure performance by area.
  5. HIPAA compliance is easier to achieve and verify with a single vendor.

While I never recommend choosing your service provider solely on the basis of price, a cost analysis is relatively easy, albeit time consuming.  Costs can be based on number of calls, minutes of talk time, number of messages, and other factors that vary by vendor.  Less easy to measure but critical to the success of your business is the warmth and professionalism felt by your callers.  Consistency in these areas is often easier to achive with a single provider.

Consolidation can help achieve cost savings due to economy of scale.  A client who generates a large call volume is often able to obtain more favorable pricing

Can consolidating your call center services help your organization?  Post your comments or ideas below!

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Contact Centers an Extension of your Business?

How hard can it be to answer the telephone? Just ask those who have had poor inexperienced services prior to finding the right provider.

I recently spoke with a woman who practices Medicine.  She expressed a fear of utilizing a telephone answering service or a call center. She heard nightmares about contact agents being rude or having little knowledge of products or services. She feared they would not have the right answers for her clients.

Over the years I have heard statements like this and more. Whether you practice Medicine, or have a product or service to offer consumers, the secret to a great telephone answering solution is training and education.

Professional contact centers know that in order to create a solid extension of your office the client must provide information and training for the answering service staff.  Executing a complex protocol is done effectively when all of the right components come together in a classroom setting.

Hiring and retaining professional, well-educated staff at the call center is another key component. After all they are the front line spokesperson that presents the first impression of your products, services, and your company as a branded image. If you want to outsource your help desk, are in need of professional messaging services, or need someone to take customer orders, here are a few things to look for in the selection process.

  • Look for a company that can provide more than cookie cutter solutions and are sincerely interested in meeting your company’s objectives.
  • Seek companies that are capable of designing electronic solutions and have integration capabilities.
  • Demand unwavering customer support.  Contact centers with experience know that partners do more than just follow protocol; they are consistently looking for ways to make your business run smoother and more profitably.
  • Treat your answering service partners as an extended family or office member. Stay in touch, supplying them with a steady stream of information regarding changes, growth, and marketing strategies.
  • A credible call center or telephone answering service will retain high-quality staff with minimal turnover.

As you consider these points in your selection process, we hope you’ll explore our award-winning service.

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How to Craft an Effective Answering Service Call Center Script

A script is a guide for the call center agents to use that will allow them to harvest the necessary information for your business needs. Scripting leads your caller through a series of questions and answers. The scripting will vary depending on the nature of your business and the scope of work the answering service is to perform.

Keep it Short
In every instance the greeting should be short, easy to read, and flow naturally. Callers are listening only to verify that they’ve reached the correct number and are annoyed by long greetings.

After the initial greeting, the call handling process can be as brief or as complex as you need it to be.

Gather Basic Information First
Simple messaging techniques include gathering basic information such as the caller’s name, address, contact information and the reason for the call.

Do Not Sound Like a Recording
Message scripting doesn’t need to feed the agent line-for-line verbiage but a guide to specific questions may be necessary to create an algorithmic flow of information.

Be Specific
Some clients require a strict protocol. More complex scripting distinguishes between required and non-required fields.  Specify which information you need versus information you would like to have. Message scripting can handle complex math formulas, date and time functions, apply discounts, etc. Requiring less information makes the experience pleasant for callers.

Define the Outcome
Design your script so that it leads to action. Ask yourself: do you want to book an appointment, make a sale, or simply respond to a phone call from your office. If you are a medical provider, define your emergencies clearly so that the call center agents can respond appropriately.

Close with a Smile
Include “please” and “thank you” throughout your script. Reassure your client that the call will be responded to in a timely manner. For example, “Thank you, sir. Bob will return your call within an hour.”

Keep these tips in mind as you work with your call center to design your call script. For more information about how call centers work, see this page on our website.

photo: flicker user matsuyuki

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Telephone Customer Service “WOW!” Factors

Effective communication skills are fundamental in today’s work environment. Impressions are formed within seconds. All businesses should ensure that a positive first impression is made with every call. Low morale and lack of enthusiasm make for a negative call experience. Studies suggest that 13% of callers who have what they perceive as a negative experience will tell at least 20 other people.

Professional Call Centers incorporate a robust training program and on-going coaching that ensures the following key performance indicators are securely in place. Grade your call center or in-house telephone customer service on a scale of 1-10 and measure the “WOW FACTOR” as defined by the following criteria:

Attitude

  • The caller is greeted with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.
  • The agent sounds interested, pleasant, and helpful.
  • The agent states his/her name.
  • The entire answer phrase is articulated clearly without rushing.

 

Timeliness

  • The call is answered in three rings (18 seconds) or less.
  • Hold time, if any, is minimal.

 

Manners

  • Phrases such as “please” and “thank you” are used appropriately.
  • If the caller is put on hold, they are asked permission first.
  • A polite return from hold is spoken.

 

Call Control

  • The caller is guided throughout the call with appropriate questions.
  • Awkward pauses or silences are avoided

 

Grammar

  • Proper business phrasing is used throughout the call.
  • Slang is not acceptable (e.g, “Yup”, “Nope”, “Okey Dokey”, “All righty”, “Ain’t”).

 

Knowledge / Confidence

  • Agent sounds knowledgeable about the business, products, and services.
  • The call flows smoothly

 

Quality

  • Agent enunciates clearly, does not mumble and speaks at an appropriate pace and volume.
  • Agent confirms the correct spelling of the caller’s name.
  • Agent confirms the caller’s contact information.
  • Agent advises the caller about how the message will be handled.
  • Agent reassures the caller by advising what will be done.
  • Agent sounds engaged with the caller (i.e., compassionate, concerned, and interested).

 

Does your call center or in-house telephone customer service measure up to these standards? We do.

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Our Call Center: It’s All About the Children

Our award-winning call center in Clearwater has assisted hospitals, surgeons, and law practices make huge strides in their ability to support their patients and clients.

But we are also fortunate to assist in other altruistic pursuits. Twenty years ago, UPS employee Ernie Coney became one of the founding members of the Friends of the James Weldon Johnson Library. He has since won many accolades for his community service including the President’s Volunteer Service Award in April of 2010 and the James E. Casey Community Service Award from UPS in February 2010 in support of the library’s literacy program.

Ernie came to Answer Excellence when The Friends of the James Weldon Johnson Library needed professional call answering assistance. The library’s remedial reading project required a way to connect the project volunteers and the parents of the children being tutored.

We are fortunate to have received many client testimonials over the years, but when Ernie told us that Answer Excellence was the perfect conduit because of our warm and welcoming call center agents, we assembled our resources and handled the specifics of his custom call center application.

As Ernie and the Friends of the James Weldon Johnson Library continue to work tirelessly in these efforts and to cultivate interest in the library, we continue to proudly stand in support of everything they are doing for these children.

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