Answering Service: Yes or No – Handling After Hours Calls

Answering Service Yes or No – Handling After Hours Calls

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We would love to be able to tell every small business owner that an answering service is the best way to handle phone calls. But we can’t. For starters, every business owner has a particular strategy for providing customer service. Second, the impetus for many companies looking at answering services is coming up with a way to manage after-hours calls.

This reality steers us to a fundamental question: should your business be taking calls after hours? Only you can make that decision. If not, investing in a live answering service or automated technology isn’t a wise use of your resources. But if so, you have options.

Normal Operating Hours

Every business has its normal operating hours. A service-oriented business, like pool maintenance for example, normally operates during the daylight hours. Pools are not being cleaned in the middle of the night. On the other hand, a bar or restaurant might not open until late afternoon but stay open until the wee hours of the morning.

Certain types of businesses really don’t need to take calls after hours. The previously mentioned bars and restaurants are good examples. But what about the pool company? Because that company offers a service rather than a product, taking calls after hours might be a good idea. Customers in need of service don’t always think to call in during normal operating hours.

Taking Calls Without a Service

One way to address after-hours calls is with voicemail. You set up your phone to automatically push calls to voicemail after hours. The benefits of doing so are likely minimal – especially if you only check messages first thing in the morning. Your other choices are to take calls yourself or contract with a live answering service.

There are challenges that come with taking calls yourself. Here are just three of them:

  • Never Disconnecting – When you take calls yourself, you are never able to truly disconnect from your business. Taking calls yourself is an intrusion of your personal life. It could impact your relationships, wear you down, and just make life unpleasant.
  • Unnecessary Calls – Business owners choosing to take after hours calls themselves often find that they are taking unnecessary calls. They are handling issues that could be dealt with the following day. They are answering questions for which callers could find answers online.
  • Bad Habits – Directly answering calls after hours can encourage bad habits among customers. If they successfully reach you after hours once, they are more likely to try calling after hours again. Two calls lead to three and so on.

If the only other option is not taking after hours calls at all, a business owner may see no other choice but to take them personally or forward them to voice mail. But a live answering service is always an option.

More Than Just Answering the Phone

The beauty of a live answering service is that it can do more than just answer the phone. Personnel are trained to take and forward messages. But they are also trained in the basics of customer service. They can be that first line of defense, so to speak.

With a live answering service, only those calls that are absolutely necessary reach you after hours. Everything else is managed by call center personnel while you make the most of your time off. Meanwhile, customers are happy because they have spoken with a live person who has addressed their concerns.

Whether or not you should contract with a live answering service goes back to how important taking after-hours calls really is. If it is important, consider an answering service.

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