Explaining how a Telephone Answering Service Functions.

Nowadays many small, medium and even larger companies to some extent are realizing that they no longer need to employ and pay a full time member of staff to work as a receptionist to answer calls. Outsourcing to a telephone answering service is fast becoming the norm for many industries as it is cheaper than employing and it avoids office space, sick days, and maternity leave issues to name but a few. Working out exactly how a telephone answering service is going to fit into an existing organization can, for some, be the biggest headache in getting started.

The vast majority of clients choose to divert or point their existing telephone number to the answering service. Usually the client is given a number, exclusive to them, and when calls come though on this unique number (whether they are diverted or direct) then the software is able to correctly identify which client the call is for and guide the operator as to how it should be answered. By using the divert function clients are always in control of when and how they use the telephone answering service. The divert can be set to spring into action all the time, when the line is engaged, after a certain amount of rings or as and when the client chooses i.e. divert only over the lunch period.

Diverting calls, for the majority of clients, is a fairly straightforward task of punching a few numbers into the main handset to switch it on (many set up a speed dial to save time). For some, usually larger companies with a more complex switchboard, they will need to speak to their telecoms provider to get the service set-up but as most larger clients use the service as an overflow for their main reception, this is usually the only time any configuration need be applied. Once the service is in place anyone calling should not realize the divert taking place and their call will be answered and handled as per the clients instructions.

Although the divert function is the most commonly used by clients it is not the only method of getting calls to the service available. Many online businesses choose to actually use the unique telephone number (used to identify client calls) as their main point of contact and give this out to clients and potential business. This means that they are not in control of how and when the service answers calls as all calls come through to the telephone answering service. This may sound like a strange way to handle client calls but as many small online businesses are run by individuals who also have a “normal” 9 to 5 day job, it means that all calls are dealt with professionally and immediately even if the client is otherwise engaged. In situations like this, if the operator is unable to help the caller and a callback is required, the operator will advise that a callback will be after work hours or however they have been instructed by the client.

NJ Walker- 08/02/10