Answering services are an incredible tool for businesses large and small. Unfortunately, though, they’re too often lumped in with the kinds of call centers that give the industry a bad name. Even after years of successfully working with an answering service, you may feel hesitant to tell customers you’re using one to help with incoming calls. However, they way we see it, you’ve got three options when it comes to disclosure about using an answering service.
Option #1: Don’t tell your callers no matter what
We have a population of clients who prefer this option. Our receptionists maintain the illusion that they are sitting right there in the office in every instance. This typically works out just fine. Most callers aren’t going to pry. However, there are a few instances when someone will and it can create an awkward situation.
Option #2: Tell your callers upfront
We have also had clients who take it upon themselves to inform their customer base that they will be having calls that come in after hours (or on weekends, holidays, etc.) by an answering service. A few of our clients have even opted to build that information into their script for us to use. “Good evening. You’ve reached the local answering service for Dr. Jackson’s office…” There’s nothing inherently wrong with the approach of telling your callers upfront that you’re using an answering service, but it’s not usually a necessity either.
Option #3: Only tell your callers when applicable
This is sort of a hybrid approach that combines the first two options. Most of our clients opt for this route. They basically just say to us, “Operate as if you’re sitting in our office and only disclose that you’re the service if someone directly asks or the situation calls for it.” This tends to work great, because most people are going to operate under the assumption that they are talking to someone in your office anyway. If the topic does come up, a majority of folks understand that outsourcing call handling is extremely common anyway.
Ultimately, the choice is up to each of our clients and they make their decision based on their preferences.
In the event you’re working with an answering service and are considering your options here, these are some reasons why you should consider letting your customers know that you are using an answering service upfront or just when applicable.
They’ll Appreciate Your Honesty
When it comes to building meaningful, long-lasting connections with customers, transparency is key. Callers will not typically be able to tell the difference between a virtual receptionist and someone who is answering the phone from your office. Repeat customers, however, may notice that the folks they speak to on the phone aren’t always the same people they’ve encountered previously. If and when they notice, it’s best to confirm their suspicions.
Transparency is the backbone of any great relationship. This is especially true of client relationships. If a customer suspects you’re not being honest about your answering service, they’ll have reason to suspect you’re not truthful about other facets of your business. By staying transparent about the way your business is run, you’ll earn both the trust and respect of your customers.
They’ll Be Impressed With Your Professionalism
For all the negative associations folks have with call centers, there’s one universal truth that’s hard to ignore: virtually all major corporations use them. Whether you’re dialing your insurance company to file a claim or calling a major retailer to lodge a complaint, chances are good you’ll be speaking to a call center employee. The use of such a service can indicate to customers that you’re actually one of the big dogs – you require the extra administrative support to handle all your success!
Of course, the professionalism extended by a virtual receptionist will also reflect back onto your company, too. The care, patience, and knowledge expressed over the phone by such a person can say a lot about the values of your organization. It also primes the customer for a great overall experience working with your employees.
They’ll Trust You More
Modern consumers are savvier than previous generations. Snarky corporate Twitter accounts, publicity stunts, and viral advertising campaigns are often seen for what they really are: calculated attempts to raise brand awareness without shoving products and services in the face of consumers. While this kind of marketing isn’t inherently good or bad, the general public has become wary of such attempts to win them over.
By being honest with your customers about your answering service, you can level with them. Most people understand the reasons why a call center might be helpful to a growing business. Being upfront about your use of one can help ease suspicions customers have about that friendly voice on the end of the line. In turn, they’ll trust you to be honest with them about other aspects of your business.
They’ll Know When You’re Fibbing
Because consumers are incredibly savvy these days, a white lie about your use of an answering service can do more harm than good. This is especially true of small businesses where customers are regularly interacting with your staff. It won’t take long for people to realize that the friendly person they spoke to on the phone isn’t around your store, office, or studio. Questions about who is taking your calls and why may arise. Even if you didn’t plan to allow for a peek behind the curtain of your daily operations, lying about your use of an answering service could be troublesome.
When asked if you’re using an answering service, the truth is always best. While not every MAP client opts to tell their customers they’re using our service, many prefer to be upfront with callers. Even if you think you’re pulling one over on your customers, chances are good they’ll continue to have their suspicions. By being honest, your customers will know they can take you at your word on other aspects of your business.
Regardless of what you decide to share with your customers, the use of an answering service should be a source of pride. The need for one shows that you’re busy and need extra support. It also indicates that you prioritize customer service and want only the best, most focused attention for callers. Rather than feel like an answering service is a dirty little secret, it helps to see it for what it is: a valuable tool for businesses large and small looking to provide the best possible experience for callers.