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Telephone answering vs call centre: Which is best?

by John Saunders
1st Dec 21 5:10 pm

Nearly 90% of customers say they prefer to speak to a real customer service agent when calling a business, rather than dealing with automated menus or answering machines.

If you’re planning to outsource your call answering to help you better deal with incoming calls, you basically have two options.

Use a call centre.

Or invest in a dedicated call answering service.

On the face of it, these services appear very similar. You hire a third party to deal with incoming calls and take messages. But in reality there’s a world of difference in what a basic call centre can do, and what a specialised call answering service can do to benefit your business.

What is a call centre?

Simply, a call centre uses basic scripts to take calls and messages. These scripts are generic and usually the only difference between scripts is the name of the company they say when they answer the phone.

Apart from that, there’s no difference. A call centre can quickly become a generic, faceless voicemail style service.

What is a telephone answering service?

On the other hand, a dedicated call answering service offers a much more personalised service. This is important as 36% of shoppers say they want better personalisation from businesses. Telephone answering services can deal with more complex calls and answer customer enquiries directly for frequent questions. Or they can relay detailed messages to the right person when the call is for something more specific or complex.

A telephone answering service can also help you with other functions like lead qualification, diary management, and some services can also help you create a web chat for your website.

Why a call answering service is best

The receptionist or virtual receptionists who work for call answering services essentially work as in-house receptionists for your business, except they work remotely. They deal with all calls that come into your business using the script you’ve agreed with them that is specific to your business and is how everyone else would answer calls.

As well as working closely to your preference for how calls are answered, they’ll also work with you to understand some of the common calls they’ll be dealing with, as well as any answers they can provide to customers on your behalf. This ensures common, easy to answer questions are kept away from your staff so they can continue working.

If new customers call, you can provide your telephone answering service provider with the information you want to get to be able to qualify the leads before they’re passed to your sales team. This can save a substantial amount of time for your team and isn’t something you could get with a call centre.

Plus, your call answering service could divert sales calls away and even have you removed from lists of third party providers.

Adding diary management and scheduling

One thing that takes a long time in business is managing diaries and scheduling meetings, especially when you’re dealing with more than one diary. It can become a full-time job in itself. Many telephone answering services can provide this service for you.

When dealing with calls, they can book meetings for you using your own diary that you just sync with their system. Any changes are made in real-time so you never have to worry you or your receptionist double booking your calendar.

All diary bookings will be accompanied by detailed notes about who you’ll be talking to and what the call is about so you’re fully prepared beforehand.

Expand your opening times

One thing you can guarantee is that your customers or prospects will have questions and want to get in touch after hours, especially if you’re service based. There’s no way you can manage all this on your own, unless you want to work 24/7.

But with a telephone answering service, you can extend your opening hours and even add weekend call answering so your customers can contact you, even when you’ve gone home for the day.

Your call answering service can even resolve simple problems for your customers without needing to pass the call on.

In a time of personalisation, telephone answering is the best option

In an ideal world you’d be able to deal with every call that comes into a business yourself. But when you’re busy, dealing with customers, completing work, marketing your business, or taking care of admin, you simply can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to answer the phone every time.

And in a world when personalisation is deemed to be key to customer service, sending customers to voicemail, or relying on generic call centres who can’t deal with enquiries other than take messages, you need a service that is an extension of your company.

This is particularly important as 80% of customers say they’re more likely to make a purchase from a company that personalises their experience. Finding the right telephone answering service can do this. It’ll ensure you never miss a call, and are always ahead when it comes to customer service.

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