When your business has grown to the point that you’re ready to start outsourcing some aspect of your phone-handling system, you’ll probably find that you have a few questions about choosing the right answering service. You’ll quickly learn that there are many different providers available – and all claim that they offer the highest-calibre service in the industry.

However, some providers have a clear advantage over others – both in terms of the calibre of service they provide and in the competitiveness of their packages. As one of the leading call bureaus in the UK, we believe that we have some unique insight into what makes some service providers stand out from the competition. With that in mind, we’re offering a few tips to keep in mind when shopping around for a virtual phone answering service to implement for your small-but-growing business.

Here are a few of the key qualities to look for:

Local operators


The importance of chartering the services of a local team simply cannot be overstated. A few years ago, it was all too common for so-called ‘call centres’ to be organised in geographically distant places. This was, of course, yet another form of outsourcing designed to save corporations money by moving jobs overseas. But for all its potential savings, this model has far too many downsides to make it desirable for today’s organisations.

For starters, you want your callers – who are presumably either existing or target clients and customers, or colleagues who need to get in touch with you – to feel comfortable when they call your company on the telephone. Ideally, the operator who answers the phone on your behalf should be easy to understand and have enough knowledge about the local area to really be of assistance.

When the person who provides your virtual telephone answering services possesses strong local language skills along with an awareness of local sensitivities and customs, they are going to be able to create a much more comfortable atmosphere for incoming callers – and that only bodes well for your business.

Comprehensive hours of operation
You’ll find that some service providers only operate during primary business hours. This is well enough if you are simply looking to outsource your phone answering services to a third party. However, many organisations find that one of the most compelling reasons to arrange answering services is the benefit of making your company available to customers outside of peak hours of operation.

To that end, spend some time shopping around to find a provider that can offer you 24-hour coverage. This is the only way to ensure that all of your callers receive the respect and attention that they deserve. Of course, extended coverage of this sort also allows your business to pick up extra sales from would-be buyers calling outside of regular hours.

Professional training
The fact is, there are many fly-by-night providers out there offering sub-par service. This is why it’s so important to spend some time shopping around for a team that prioritises customer satisfaction.

An answering service that emphasises training is going to offer more seamless integration, ensuring that incoming calls are handled quickly and efficiently, with messages delivered to you or your company via SMS, email or even directly.

It’s also worth noting that outsourcing your call answering to a third party also means that you can cut down on the amount of training that needs to be conducted in your own office. Instead of worrying about whether or not your team possess the required phone skills to get the job done, you can simply delegate this task to the professionals and allow them to worry about those finer points on your behalf.

Flexible plans

It could be that you originally looked into arranging virtual answering services to assist with covering the lines outside of primary business hours. After a few weeks, you discovered that their services were also useful during peak operational hours – especially during busier periods when a surge in calls was expected.

It’s only natural for our relationships with our service providers to grow and develop. However, this is really only going to be possible if the company that you are dealing with has a robust selection of offerings available to begin with. Here are some of the essential services that should be on offer:

Flexible offerings and a broad selection of add-ons mean that you can always scale up your services when need be. At the same time, it also ensures that you never find yourself in a position in which you’re paying for more services than you are actually using.

Commitment to customer service

While it may not be possible to go in and have a first-hand look at the team, there are still ways to determine whether the team is committed to delivering a high standard of customer service. For starters, look around for reviews and comments from other clients of theirs. If none are forthcoming on the Internet, don’t balk at asking for references or a list of other satisfied clients to follow up on your own.

You can also look to see what awards and recognitions the company has received. A new company may not have had the chance to collect any accolades, but it never hurts to have a look.

A reputable operation is going to acquire all of the above – accolades, glowing reviews and awards. It’s also going to offer a reliable standard of service that is only going to benefit your company and its operations over the long term.

Generally speaking, a strong combination of the above qualities is going to result in a high-calibre virtual office answering service that is going to keep you and your callers satisfied. If you would like to learn more about how Netcall Solutions can make this happen for your office, feel free to get in contact with us today.