Live Answering: Which service is the best fit for your business?
There are two steps to choosing the live answering service that is best suited to your business:
- Choosing the right provider
- Choosing the right plan
When it comes to choosing a live answering provider, you should consider the following:
- Who answers the calls? Look for professional operators (not part-timers working from home).
- Where are the calls answered? Look for a service with local (Australian-based) operators.
- What are the hours of operation? Look for a 24/7 service that operates on public holidays.
- What is the quality of the service? Check out testimonials and recommendations.
- What other services are available? You can often save money by bundling other telco services.
After you choose a live answering provider, the next step is to compare their available plans and work out which one is right for you.
Do you want live answering calls connected to you?
Most providers offer two types of live answering plans: messaging or call connection.
- With a messaging plan, the operator greets callers in your business name, and then takes a message that is immediately forwarded to you by SMS, email and web portal.
- With a call connection plan, the operator greets callers in your business name, and then attempts to connect the call through to you. If you are not available, or do not want to take the call, the operator takes a message that is immediately forwarded to you by SMS, email and web portal. It's like having your own virtual receptionist.
You'll pay a bit extra for a call connection plan, but it will still be a lot less than paying for a receptionist: especially one who works 24/7! For example Alltel's messaging plans start at $29 per month and call connection plans start at $49 per month.
What size is your business?
Most providers offer plans aimed at businesses of different sizes:
- If you're a sole trader, you can sign up for a plan that sends all messages (or connects all calls) to a single person.
- If you have multiple people working with you, you're more likely to want a plan that can take messages for (or connect calls to) individual members on your team.
It is typically much cheaper to get a team messaging service than it is to sign up for multiple individual messaging services. For example, Alltel's Messages 24/7 plan (which takes messages for an individual) starts at $29 per month, and Team Messenger plan (which takes messages for multiple team members) starts at $39 per month.
A team messaging service is ideal for businesses where people are often out of the office (for example out visiting clients). Your team members will receive individual calls immediately (by call connection or email/SMS messages) to ensure they receive important information in a timely manner.
How many calls do you receive?
A live answering plan will typically include a fixed number of calls, with a per call or per minute charge for each excess call.
You need to be realistic about the number of calls you expect to receive each month. It's not worth saving $10 on your monthly plan if you end up paying an additional $15 each month for excess calls!
And make sure you can change the plan (either upgrade or downgrade) free of charge if you need to.
Do you answer calls on a mobile?
This one could well be an added bonus if you answer calls to your 1300 number or 1800 number on your mobile phone.
With Alltel's Reception Connect call connection plan, you not only get a virtual receptionist who answers and connects your calls 24/7, you also get the benefit that all of the live answering calls connected to you are UNTIMED! (This includes calls connected to you via your fixed landline or mobile phone.)
If you often receive lengthy phone calls to your 1300 number or 1800 number that you answer on your mobile, you might find that this service helps to save you $$ on your call costs.
A live answering service provides you with convenience and flexibility, and is a very affordable way to offer extended office/support hours. It's like adding a new member to the team who never sleeps, is never sick, and is always professional and polite. And with plans starting from just $29 per month, it's a service that most businesses can't afford to be without! Call us today on 1300 ALLTEL and we'll help you to choose the plan that's right for you.