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When selecting outsource services for your small business there are a whole range of considerations that you should take into account. Because your new outsourced answering service will basically be the front line for your business you really need to check that your new service will be up to the task. Before jumping in and making a rash decision you should develop a set of criteria for assessing what the key considerations are for your business. Every business is different so the things that are key for your business might not be the same for the business next door. Don't rush in, assess your options in a logical and structured way.

Here are 5 considerations that we think you should take into account when selecting an appropriate firm.

Here are 5 considerations to take into account when selecting a telephone answering service

1) Where are the staff based?

Where the staff are based is probably one of the key questions that our prospective customers ask so I would guess it is also one of the major concerns of companies generally when they are looking to find a phone answering service. Some of the concerns that we hear in relation to some of our competitors who are using offshore call centres are, "there is a delay on the line", "the receptionist has a very strong accent and is difficult to understand", "the connection is very poor" and "the receptionists don't have any local knowledge". Here at Virtual Office Melbourne we do not make use of Asian call centres. During business hours your calls will be answered by our Australia based receptionist team and outside of business hours (if you opt for a 24/7 service) then we may move some calls to our UK team or potentially our USA team. Wherever we choose to answer that call, you can be assured that we will be using state of the art infrastructure to ensure that you get an extremely high level of quality.

2) How experienced are the receptionists?

Before picking a company to answer your calls you should find out a little bit more about the people who will be taking those calls. Are they junior staff who have been brought in because they are cheap or are they experienced staff who have a good understanding of business practices. Here at Virtual Office Melbourne we try to employ experienced mature receptionists to answer our calls. We have training programs that we have put in place and our supervisors regularly sit in on calls so that we can ensure that our receptionist team is delivering the right type of service to you our customer. In addition to our HR structure we also monitor a number of KPI's (key performance indicators) in relation to our incoming calls. These KPI's will include factors such as number of rings before the call was answered, length of the call and time to get a message off to the customer. Each of our receptionists are assessed in terms of how well they perform both individually and as a team. If a receptionist is not meeting the defined KPI's then they will undergo training and coaching to get them back up to speed. Having an experienced team of professionals answering your calls is extremely important. The person answering your incoming calls is the gatekeeper to your business. If they are doing a poor job then it will reflect badly on your business and may even deter customers from coming back. You need to make sure that the right team are in place to answer your incoming calls.

3) How sophisticated are their systems?

The level of sophistication out there with telephone answering services varies dramatically from the small businesses that make do with a couple of computers and a lot of notepads to the highly sophisticated services that have streamlined their businesses by automating whatever is possible. Virtual Office Melbourne is very much at the sophisticated end of the spectrum. We have been involved with telephone answering services for more than a decade and we have custom written our systems for the Australian market. We currently employ an IT development team who are continually looking for ways to make you service better and more rewarding.

4) How long have they been doing this?

Barriers to entry in the telephone answering business are relatively low. Some small businesses operate with just one or two staff and a couple of computers with the actual call answering being done by an offshore call centre. Unfortunately, the level of service that you will get from this style of business is relatively poor and changeable. While it may be good one day, it could potentially drop the next. Before choosing a telephone answering service you should check to see how long the contenders have been in business and how well their structure has been set up. When selecting a business partner to work with you need to be sure that the way they are presenting your company image to your callers is the way that you want to be presented. Getting the wrong telephone answering service can really damage your businesses image and impact on your bottom line. Here at Virtual Office Melbourne we answer calls for more than 2,000 businesses both here in Australia and in the UK and USA. Those 2,000 businesses include lots of lawyers, accountants, IT professionals as well as online businesses and start ups. The chances are that we are answering calls for businesses that are just like yours.

5) How complex is their pricing?

Trying to work out how much you are going to be charged for a service can sometimes be difficult. Some telephone answering services charge on a per minute basis while others charge on a call basis. Some give you packages which include a certain number of calls while others simply charge you for each and every call. Before you choose a company to go with you should have a thorough read of both their pricing pages plus their terms and conditions. We would recommend working out your anticipated call volume as well as your anticipated total minutes. You can then use this information to compare the alternatives and make sure that you are comparing apples with apples. Here at Virtual Office Melbourne we try to keep our pricing simple. We offer a range of packages to suit a range of business sizes and can also custom build a package for you if your business is more complex. Our average customer spends around $100 per month on our service and for that they get the peace of mind that if they are not available for a call then our professional team will be there to back them up.

Getting a telephone answering service for your business makes good business and financial sense. Getting the wrong telephone answering service could have a detrimental impact on your business and could actually cost you customers. Before simply going for the cheapest option make sure that you do your research and assess all aspects of the companies on your short list. Why not sign up for a 7 day free trial with Virtual Office Melbourne and you can test drive our service for the next 7 days with no obligation to sign up. There is no credit card required for a free trial and we will not pressure you to go ahead.


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