There are several areas to consider when choosing to work with a call answering company.
It’s not only cost. Although that’s always going to be a consideration.
If you understand what it is what you want to achieve, then it will make the choice easier. I will run through a few different options below for you to consider.
Basic message taking Even with basic message taking there are things to consider.
If a lot of background noise isn’t a problem for you, then a large call centre may work for you.
Calls will be scripted and even if one of your friends calls and says, ‘they know me’, they may still be asked for their full name as the scripting system won’t allow any flexibility.
It will be one of possibly over 100 people answering your call. They will have very little knowledge of your business.
It will be basic. Name, telephone number and brief message. Possibly an email address too.
Large call centres base their business model on high volume. Calls will be hurried and without any of the niceties and small talk. The call will probably be under a minute.
The lowest price we’ve seen is 77p a call. Generally, this type of operation will charge between £1 - £1.50 per call plus VAT. If an SMS is included, it would normally be at an additional rate.
Some companies will have a monthly standing fee in addition to the per call fee.
Bespoke call answering Bespoke call answering companies are generally either smaller, or a larger company split into smaller groups.
The people answering the calls will understand you and your callers and will have more time to spend on a call. It will be very customer focussed.
There will be time for the 'niceties'. Asking about their health if they've been poorly. Interest in the caller.
They will be able to deal with much more complex calls. For example, booking appointments into a podiatry clinic and have a basic knowledge of the service. Sending out additional documentation such as consent forms. Booking blood tests at a laboratory. Making a hotel or restaurant reservation.
This service will be priced individually to suit specific needs. It’s unlikely to be scripted and the company will have high training standards.
Calls are likely to be considerably longer, and the price will reflect that.
It may be a per call rate of £3 - £5, or a per minute rate from £1.50 a minute.
Pricing This is a complex area. The headline price may not be what you will pay.
All call answering companies work on a similar model – time. The more complex the call, the more time it will take which attracts a higher rate.
There may be a fixed monthly fee on top of the call rate. A one-off set-up fee added to the first bill.
Additional fees for sending an SMS, setting up an out of hours voicemail. Another fee for Saturdays and evenings.