Considerations for Starting an Answering Service
This type of business involves answering calls for businesses and professionals. You may need to take messages or even take orders, troubleshooting, answering pre-sales questions, and more.
Keep in mind this type of business is diminishing, because of technology. Everyone can have their own answering service, voicemail, email, and texting. With that in mind, we can see that this type of business can survive. The key is personalized service that allows people to connect with a person when they call in.
Three important issues to keep in mind with this type of business:
1. Someone has to be there to take the call, every day, no matter what time of day it is!
2. You need to have professional communication skills in order to keep your clients satisfied.
3. This type of business takes a high level of organizational skills. You may need to switch phone scripts, get correct information quickly while speaking on the phone, and keeping messages clear and organized for your clients.
- Set appointments.
- Call with reminders.
- Answer business calls and take messages.
- Strong clear voice.
- Polite and courteous phone manners.
- Ability to handle occasional irate callers.
- Warm and personable personality.
- Organization skills are a must.
- Common Business Skills.
- Phone Operators / Customer Service Reps
- Common staff positions needed to run some businesses
Hours of Operation
Hours vary according to the needs of each client. You may be required to even have a night shift, for business such as a tow truck company, where calls are answered 24/7.
Equipment and Supplies
- Multi-line phone system
- Professional Headset
- PBX system
- Essential Office Equipment
In addition to our list of common business expenses, your answering service will require a budget for your Multi-Line Phone Bill, plus Toll and long-distance Charges.
Special Requirements and Considerations
- It’s very important to be organized. When your clients call for their messages, you need to make sure everything is right there. Often, this is best done by having messages stacked in a “ready” and “sent” stack for each client.
- Create a filing system for client messages.
- Write customer instructions and messaging preferences. Follow customer instructions at all times.
- Be precise when taking messages. Use short sentences.
- Provide excellent service.
- Think of each call to your customer could we worth thousands of dollars. Treat each call with great importance, no matter what the message is.
- For multiple clients, you may need to invest in a multiple-line phone system. These usually handle up to 8 or 10 lines and can be marked with each client’s name. For a very large volume of clients, you may need to invest in a specialized type of switchboard system, sometimes called a PBX system.
- Get the equipment necessary to ensure success. Be sure you’re set up to take the volume of calls you’ll receive during the hours you’ll be operating. Make sure you have plenty of office supplies to stay organized.
- Most importantly, be sure you have a professional voice and know your clients’ businesses well enough to be able to answer any and all questions.
Pros and Cons
- You can start and work from home.
- Fairly inexpensive and easy to start and grow.
- Your work hours are often hours when most people are off.
- It can be stressful keeping up with client demands and some callers.
- Hard to take time off unless you hire other workers.
- It can be competitive.
- You have no control of when calls come in, you may have no calls for hours while other times you have too many calls to handle.
- Current technology can do a lot of the required tasks of an answering service.
Type of Customers
Your answering service can help both local and long-distance clients. While you will most likely start out with clients in your local area, you can also serve clients anywhere. This is especially true when operating a toll-free call center.