A Better Answer - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
No matter the industry you are in, a great customer experience is vital to the success of your small business. There are enough challenges when growing a business without adding poor customer service to the mix.
These are five big reasons why customer service is so important to small businesses, and what it means to the future of your company.
1. Creates Retention and Builds Trust
Customers that feel they can come to your company and have a great experience are more likely to keep coming back. You can build trust with them by always offering a consistent experience.
The kicker is that building that trust takes time, but it can only take one instance to lose it. With enough great service, you can build some goodwill in case a mistake happens. Apple has spent years building up their reputation for fantastic service. They could make a mistake in one of their stores once, and you might be able to write it off. Imagine a company that has provided consistently poor customer service — they have an insurmountable task to rebuild trust.
Focus on starting with great customer service; the rewards are well worth the time and resource investment.
2. Service is a Differentiator
While customer service has always been a huge factor for the competitiveness of businesses, it’s become even more crucial since the 2008 recession. Companies that didn’t adapt and offer customers a great experience struggled, while those that went above and beyond (while still being smart about their profitability), were able to make it through the tough financial times and come out ahead.
You can see a live example of this in as odd a place as the American version of The Office. Dunder Mifflin was a struggling archaic idea of a company when the show started. They were a paper company in a paperless world. As the years moved on, and customer service DID become a significant differentiator, they began to bounce back due to their hands-on and personable approach. This is an excellent pop culture representation of customer service becoming a more influential differentiator for businesses and has the potential of ensuring your business stays afloat if your industry suddenly finds itself shrinking.
Great service helps you stand out from the myriad of competitors. By being the company to offer exceptional service, customers will start seeking you out. This can be very important if your market becomes oversaturated. Being the company that offers the same great products and services with the added benefit of customer service can help when you end up against too many competitors.
3. Customer Referrals are Vital to Small Businesses
Small businesses and tight budgets go hand-in-hand. Referrals from customers that are evangelists help small companies continue to grow, even when their sales team is at its bandwidth, and the marketing budget is spent.
Referral business is low cost to companies and can have a very successful close rate. Frequently referrals enter your sales pipeline with higher trust. In a recent Nielson survey, they found that 83% of people trust recommendations for products and services from people they know. Social media is spreading the word of favorable product recommendations faster than ever, and Facebook even has a special post style to ask for recommendations.
Your customer service becomes a catalyst for creating happy clients that are willing to recommend your company to their friends and colleagues.
4. Increases Opportunities to Upsell
Upselling customers is a vital part of growing a small business, in part because the cost of acquiring new customers is far higher than retaining them. This means that if you have products and services that can be expanded upon, you should be focusing some of your sales on your existing customers.
Closing a sale that has been poisoned by a bad customer experience can be near impossible, though. Customer service directly supports your sales team. If existing customers can’t get the right information on a call, or feel they are not important, they’ll move on to a competitor before long.
Upselling customers increases your profitability and allows you to focus more of your budget and resources to expand your business.
5. Can Have a Meaningful Impact on Your Culture
A culture of customer service starts with leadership and can have a direct impact on the happiness of your employees. If your customer service isn’t valued and leads to frustrated clients, your team has to deal with the fallout. A culture of customer service can show your team that you care about them and your customers. It leads to more pleasant engagements and creates an empowered team who feel they can go above and beyond for their customers. This directly impacts the growth of the company.
In fact, companies that are growing are 21% more likely to emphasize customer service.
Small Company, Big Service
Customer service in a small company has a more substantial impact than at a big company. The specialists giving your customers a great experience can share their triumphs readily, and you can see and feel the successes. This gives you a big customer service advantage and is why customer experience should be top of mind for small businesses.
Publish Date: July 17, 2018 5:00 AM
Customer service leads to happy customers, and happy customers keep buying your products and services. It really is that simple on the surface, but there is more nuance.
It doesn’t matter that you have excellent customer service alone, it matters how complete your offering is and how you dedicate yourself to it.
Why Retention Matters
The cost of acquiring customers is high; it includes marketing budget, sales time and delivering a product. The longer you keep a customer, the more return on your investment of sales time and marketing resources.
It’s somewhere between 5 and 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer instead of retaining one. This is why the largest companies in the world try to make you brand loyal and maintain your attention.
You should be focusing on keeping your customers over acquiring lots of new ones. The math works out as a far better way to grow your company.
So how do you keep customers? Customer service.
Customer Service and Retention
Your customer service is part of your sales process (even if it requires a different skillset). Think of it like you are “reselling” your customers on your product or services every time they need customer service.
You are selling them on the idea of continuing to use your product. You are giving customers confidence in their choice of your company, that they got the best deal for them (not always the least costly) and that there is no reason to look elsewhere because they are happy where they are. Whether you sell to consumers or businesses, this idea remains true. They view your support as part of the product.
By creating a great customer service moment for your customers, they will keep coming back. They can even walk away from these experiences more satisfied than they were before.
The better your customer service, the higher your retention will be. In fact, 52% of customers report poor service as their reason for leaving a provider. It’s essential to invest the time, resources and culture so your service is a full customer experience.
A Complete Service Experience
Everyone thinks of customer service a little bit differently. It’s easy to become too focused on one part of customer service when it’s often multi-faceted. Customer service can be as simple as an easy and responsive scheduling system, digitally or by phone, or it can be a full team of expert troubleshooters.
Your customer service should exist in multiple forms. These are a few easy things you can do to help your service:
- Make your website easy to navigate, and your contact information easy to find.
- Ensure your phones always have a trained representative answering them.
- Be available when your customers need you.
- Interact quickly on digital platforms if you have them, such as Facebook.
- Ability to problem solve, even if you don’t have the solution yourself, know who does.
Make sure that whatever platforms you do use, they are always manned. It doesn’t help you if your Facebook page never has anyone responding to comments. If no-one is monitoring your catch-all customer emails, then they’ll become frustrated and feel ignored.
The best piece of advice for creating a customer service experience is to engage and manage whatever platforms you do choose to use.
The Fad Trap
There are always new ways to engage with customers to help increase retention. No matter what releases, apply the above advice. If you can’t integrate it into your business or dedicate your staff to it, don’t use it.
Chatbots have become a popular addition to company websites and are a fantastic way for customers to get basic questions answered, but if you don’t have a service team to back it up for the more complicated conversations they can taint the whole customer experience before you ever get a chance to talk to them. Supporting a chatbot with both an answering service and chat representatives allows your customers to have a complete service experience for their complex needs, no matter how they choose to escalate the conversation.
Your sales process never really stops. Customer service is an extension of your sales team. They keep your customers happy and willing to spend more money with your business.
The key is to create a complete experience and dedicate yourself to your chosen platforms or work with a partner who can do that for you. If you have strong customer service, then you’ll retain more customers and grow a more profitable company.
Publish Date: July 12, 2018 5:00 AM
Call Handling Hero® — Sandra
Our May Call Handling Hero® Sandra received a call from a resident of a high-rise because water was leaking into his apartment from above. Flooding is never something anyone wants to have to deal with, and she knew she had to take action. Sandra quickly realized something wasn’t right, though, because the name of the apartment complex didn’t show up on her list of properties. She called the management company; it turns out they had just acquired the building, and the transition process was ongoing.
Sandra followed her gut, and because of it, the management company sprung into action to help the resident resolve his watery predicament and possibly save serious money on repairs. The management company was happy to assist, and Sandra was able to save a resident a headache while facilitating excellent customer service in a complicated time for any company. Sandra’s actions earned her our Call Handling Hero® award for May 2018.
Publish Date: July 3, 2018 5:00 AM
Whether you should provide great customer service isn’t a question, yet determining what form of department or partnership is right for your company can be perplexing. Factors including cost, time and effort all weigh heavily on the decision on whether to build and train an in-house customer service department or to outsource and partner with someone like an answering service.
There is more at play than just logistics, the goodwill of your customers may rest on making the right decision. If you are in the process of making this decision, we are breaking down the factors relevant to you.
Building an In-House Department
Building an in-house customer service department can end up being costly, but worth it for certain companies. It’s important to factor in that hiring, training and maintaining an entire team of customer service representatives can take a lot of time and money, making this route prohibitive for some companies.
Advantages of In-House
- Your customer service representatives will be closer to your business.
- Offers customers direct access to specialists, especially if you are in a tech industry.
- If your business is continually shifting, it may be easier and less expensive to train an internal team on these shifts than a partner.
- Can be more cost effective for complex products and services to train an in-house team than training an outside team on your company.
Disadvantages of In-House
- Can require creating a new position or positions, and hiring new employees with all the overhead that entails.
- High cost of training and time-consuming. Not just training staff on nuances of your business, but on customer service itself.
- Have to own and maintain the equipment for a team, as well as own or rent space.
- If you need to be available at night, or even 24/7, it makes managing staff more complicated and is not efficient for occasional calls.
Outsourcing with a Partner
Outsourcing to an answering service partner is a great way to save on costs, risks and training time. Working with an outside partner can become complicated for highly specialized businesses, or products/services that require certifications or vast amounts of knowledge.
Advantages of Outsourcing
- On-call hours mean a partner is available 24/7 if you need them, without wasting efficiency.
- The right customer service partner will be experts at providing customer service without training.
- Can support your team when they are not able to answer phones directly, and versatile in multiple levels of service.
- Independently located, often with backups, ensuring your customer service never goes down.
Disadvantages of Outsourcing
- Requires in-depth training on complicated businesses to be able to offer independent service on demand.
- Not as agile as an in-house department to new company changes.
- Not always able to escalate a situation as easily as an in-house department (depends highly on industry and logistics with partner company)
What You Don’t See Coming
Ever been stuck in the elevator and been unable to field customer calls? We’ve heard of it happening. If that were to happen to one of your customer service representatives, an answering service partner could quickly step in to make sure your phones are getting answered when the unforeseen happens. This includes bad weather, internet outages and more. It could also include finding a partner in a warm climate, so the winter weather isn’t a factor for your customer service. An outside partner offers a layer of redundancy and safety against what you don’t see coming.
The Middle Ground
So far we’ve explored the idea of absolutes for the most part — either working with an outside partner or creating an in-house department. It may actually work out that the best course of action is a combination. An answering service can provide support after-hours and during lunch hours for both large and small teams. Certain partners can handle parts of your customer service business as well, answering for medical services through the night and escalating emergencies to the on-call physician or nurse.
These combinations of customer service teams allow for an efficient set-up and one that can make sure your customers are always getting what they need while also being budget friendly.
Sometimes certifications can be a restrictive part of your business, with representatives or specialists requiring precise training. This can lead to a situation where the best course of action is to create an in-house team, yet other times it can save you a headache and a lot of money working with a certified partner. HIPAA compliance is both mandatory and prohibitive when working with an outside partner, yet if they are already certified and compliant it saves you the time and energy of training a team, setting up the safeguards, and enforcing them.
Focus on What’s Right for You and Your Customers
The main thing when making this decision is to do what is right for your business and your customers. What will keep them happy and continuously returning to you? Complex companies should consider a hybrid or in-house solution, while many other companies would benefit from the cost savings and an expert customer service team of an answering service partner.
Publish Date: June 28, 2018 5:00 AM
Call Handling Hero® — Michelle
Michelle faced a logistical problem in the waning hours of the night. The ABA offices started receiving calls from patients from an office we didn’t service. This lead to patients being unable to find solutions as there was nowhere to send them. Luckily, the medical professional on-call was able to reach Michelle and she lept into action.
As it turns out, the calls were coming from a customer’s branch that used a different service. The forwarding number had been directed to A Better Answer’s number instead of their own service. Michelle was able to help their medical professional identify the problem so it could be resolved, and even set up courtesy service until noon the next day so they could take the steps to resolve the issue without disruption to their patients.
Great job, Michelle! Your follow-through, sleuthing and great customer service makes you an amazing March Call Handling Hero®.
Publish Date: April 23, 2018 5:00 AM
We all love to hate some of the awful customer service reps we see in movies and on TV because sometimes we can relate so closely it hurts. Here are some of our favorite customer service reps and why you never want them anywhere near your customers (except one).
It’s hard not to love the receptionists in both the original Ghostbusters and the recent reboot. They each bring a unique brand of humor to the situation, yet neither is really good for your customers.
Janine Melnitz’s apathy and sarcasm help her balance the rest of the team’s unadulterated enthusiasm for catching ghosts, yet you’d never want her answering your phone and talking to your customers the same way. Her abrasiveness would have customers running to your competitors faster than you could imagine.
Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin is less offensive, but basically useless. His completely clueless attitude is hilarious, especially from Thor himself. This is also the antithesis of what anyone’s customer service should look like. Kevin didn’t even know what the Ghostbusters did after he took the job!
2. Office Space
While Office Space may be a near perfect satire of the workplace at the turn of the millennium, it also gave us the easily relatable “just a moment” answering line, again and again. Too often it seems we are talking to a recording or a broken robot and are left feeling unimportant. Don’t ever let your customers hear the same canned answer from call to call. Listen and adapt to your customers, and don’t shove them on hold right away every time.
3. Nick Burns - Saturday Night Live
The computer guy with a fantastic mustache and killer knowledge of everything computer related. Yet, he is impatient, a know-it-all and generally not a great person. Expertise is something that shouldn’t come with a chip on anyone’s shoulder. Instead, bring a great experience when your customers are in need of help. The next time they are ready to make a purchase, they will think of you first.
4. April Ludgate
While Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation may have been a strong Libertarian that was trying to dismantle the federal government from the inside, it doesn’t mean you should want a receptionist like April Ludgate. Her cold tones and systematic dismantling of any semblance of organization have left the parks department director without a single meeting for months at a time. While Marchtember Oneteenth may sound like the perfect day for a meeting, good luck trying to find it on a calendar.
5. Pretty Woman
The poor front desk customer service in Pretty Woman is so satisfying, as we get to see Julia Roberts get her sweet revenge. While we just love rooting for her, she should never have had to go back in the first place. It’s important to never judge any of your customers, or else you could lose their business, or at least the commission.
6. Soup Nazi
Soup is serious business, and it’s important to take pride in your work, but not to the point the Soup Nazi did in Seinfeld. Jerry and George cross the threshold of his restaurant terrified to make the wrong move or lose their soup. While the hilarious setting leaves all of us wondering if the soup is worth it, the loss of customers certainly wouldn’t be.
Honorable Mention: Kenneth Parcell
We didn’t want to fill this list with only bad examples of customer service. While Kenneth Parcell might be focused internally at 30 Rock, he is a prime example of who you want at the forefront of your customer relations. No one has the drive, energy or lifespan of the mythical Kenneth. His smile and willingness to go the extra mile (or many miles) for his coworkers are a prime example of how we should all approach customer service. Provide an experience they didn’t dare hope to ask for and you’ll have lifelong customers. Kenneth is the true magnificent peacock of customer service.
As fun as it is to look at these famous examples of terrible customer service, this should never be your reality. To build excellent customer service, focus on your expertise, willingness to go the extra mile, and always keep one eye on both your needs and those of the customer. If your customer service needs extra support, a professional answering service can bring expertise and friendly interactions with your customers when you can’t.
Publish Date: February 20, 2018 5:00 AM
Lindsay earned her spot as the Call Handling Hero® for January by being vigilent and acting quickly.
Call Handling Hero® — Lindsay
Lindsay answered a call one Saturday afternoon to find a very frustrated caller who needed to get her ninety-year-old father’s medication as soon as possible. The caller had spent the day before waiting for the prescription to be filled so she could go pick it up, but it seemed something had gone wrong and the pharmacy never received the prescription. The caller was upset and worried about her father — rightfully so. Lindsay knew she had to act and escalated the call immediately to the physician’s assistant when the on-call practitioner wasn’t able to help. She was able to work with the PA and get the situation resolved quickly, much to the relief of her patient.
Thanks to Lindsay’s persistence she was able to get an elderly man the prescription he needed and earned her place as January’s Call Handling Hero®. Our clients rely on our out-of-the-box thinking often needed in difficult times. They appreciate our quality of service and care we extend to their customers.
Congrats to Lindsay as our Call Handling Hero®!
Publish Date: February 19, 2018 5:00 AM
Our November Call Handling Hero was able to quickly and effectively manage complicated healthcare calls and get the callers the resolution they needed.
Call Handling Hero® — Melissa
Holiday weekends can be challenging for getting complications with medical prescriptions resolved, especially when a patient is in pain but doesn’t consider it an emergency. Melissa became our Call Handling Hero when she went above and beyond by reviewing a note from a previous caller who needed to refill their pain medication, but they didn’t feel it was an emergency and were out of refills.
Melissa called the patient back and helped her navigate the holiday weekend with the doctor out until Monday morning. Melissa was able to work with the doctor’s office and get the patient a new prescription called in so she could get the medication she needed. Congrats to Melissa as our Call Handling Hero®!
Runner Up — Martha
Martha was faced with a difficult situation, a call from a patient about chest pains. He was trying to get more information and schedule a stress test. Martha immediately marked the call an emergency and worked with our client to help the patient get the care he needed.
Great job, Martha!
Publish Date: February 5, 2018 5:00 AM
Today, we have the second story in our series “Customer Service Horror Stories.” We’ve all had bad customer service experiences, but sometimes they can feel far more like a horror story than just a mundane experience.
The Mundane Robot Takeover
Today was like any other day. The sun was out, and Steve was leaving a review for his newest phone case online. No sooner did Steve hit enter that a response was posted. “Thank you so much for the time and effort in reviewing our product. It is much appreciated and so is your business.” Steve looked and every review had that response, good or bad. Odd.
Steve went on with his day, finally heading out for lunch, and as he walked into his favorite sandwich place, he looked around. The usuals weren’t there. Instead, he saw a robot behind the counter. Steve would normally find this odd, but not today.
As Steve stood in line, he saw the robot take order after order, always suggesting the same ham and cheese sandwich. It seemed unable to take any other order, no tuna clubs, no turkey avocado subs, and when someone asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich he thought he saw a spark fly out of the robot’s neck.
Steve saw there was no way he was going to get his order, so he decided to leave and try the store next door. Same story. Same with the next store, and the next, and the next. Every place Steve went were robots, and every one could only give a handful of responses.
Steve’s eye started twitching. No matter where he went, he couldn’t get a conversation started with any of the robots. He couldn’t customize an order, he could only get a handful of emotionless and canned responses from anyone.
As Steve wandered, he started seeing less and less people, and more robots. Soon everyone he talked to gave him cold, unfeeling answers about the weather, asked him about his uncle from his father’s side and the latest dollar menu items.
Steve could feel his palms sweat, and both eyes were now twitching. All around him the same questions, and the same answers. Who can withstand that kind of torture?
How to Avoid This Horror Story: Avoid Canned Responses
Steve’s brush with robotic automation is a great example of what can happen when you rely too heavily on scripts and canned responses. They can drive your customers a bit nuts. It’s important to be able to adapt to your customers needs. With the rise of automated chat services remember that human touch still matters. Focus on training your customer service representatives on the common topics they will need to cover, but teach them how to respond and improvise while being true to your product or service.
Want to avoid horror stories like this one? Contact us today for a quote, or click the box below. Stay tuned for more tales of customer service woes to avoid...
Publish Date: October 27, 2017 5:00 AM
It is no secret that technology is changing the world as we know it. As it is now, there are already new methods of doing things available in the market. In terms of customer service, while answering services are still at the forefront, will that change in the future? Chatting services are already gaining a lot of traction and over time, it’s possible that they may be more popular than answering services at some point. But that doesn’t mean your customer will have a more satisfying experience, however.
The Rise of AI
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is one of the main ways that this can happen. Artificial intelligence is making a lot of headway in the world of technology. While it may still be a more expensive option, as the technology is perfected and altered, it will become more affordable for small businesses. If it is implemented as a chatting service, it will be able to be used in place of an answering service. It may even be able to provide quicker services and solutions than actual people because of the vast amount of knowledge that will be available for use.
The Digital Solution
Live chat provides an immediate alternative to an answering service that many companies use today. These services allow for their customers to still talk to a live representative, just over their computer. This can be a great way for specific industries to quickly get information from their customers, especially for more basic problems or customer service needs.
Why Human Touch Still Matters
AI will never replicate the human element of telephone answering, however. Yes, the customer may get the answer or solution they are looking for, and could even get it faster. But a human representative can show empathy and attention to detail, as well as make the customer feel like they’re important and valued. A live chat system does connect you with a human representative, yet it is obstructed by being a written message where emotions are hard to convey and difficult problems can be hard to articulate. Live answering services provide a truer form of dialogue with less room for interpretation error and a better experience for your customers that need a problem solved. For more on this topic, check out this blog on the pros and cons of using an automated service versus using an answering service.
Customer service does not look the same as it did fifty years ago and it will not look the same in the next few years from what we know now either. While chatting services may seem appealing, they’ll never replicate the value you get from actual human beings answering your phones.
Publish Date: August 24, 2017 5:00 AM
Happiness is an important part of any workplace. Generally speaking, employees that are happy will be more productive, produce higher quality work, and become more engaged in their jobs and with the company. While certain aspects of workplace happiness depend on good chemistry between the members of your team, there are several things you can do to improve workplace morale by improving working conditions, reducing stress, and interjecting fun into the workplace. Here are five ways to increase the level of happiness in the workplace.
1. Provide a Comfortable Work Environment
While a workplace should be professional, that doesn't mean that it must be uncomfortable. When you are not comfortable, it is hard to remain cheerful. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain and headaches. Uncomfortable desk chairs can lead to sore necks, backs, and shoulders. Take time to honestly evaluate your work environment and replace any features that are less than ideal. If you have the space to spare, you may wish to set up a relaxing area with a sofa and a few plush chairs for people to take a minute to think or bond with coworkers over their morning coffee.
2. Give Positive Feedback
It is easy to think of feedback as negative, because that is when we hear it the most. It is important to give feedback of all kinds for learning and confident performance in any role. If you see someone do an outstanding job, make sure they know about it, or make sure their boss does. People love to hear compliments. Even the most self-confident people need an ego boost from time to time. Make sure to simply be genuine in your feedback. When you point out something that you genuinely appreciate about someone, you'll almost always get to see them beaming with happiness.
3. Really Listen When People Speak
When someone else is speaking, it is incredibly easy to become distracted by thinking about what you are going to say next, or something else altogether. But when you do this, you never know what good ideas or important information you may be missing out on. People respect someone who truly listens. Whenever someone takes the time to speak to you, tune out all other distractions and focus on what they are saying. This will make your employees feel like you truly value their contributions, respect their thoughts and ideas, and can help your business as a whole
4. Lead, Don’t Micromanage
Part of being a good, effective leader is telling other people what they need to do. However, a common mistake is to move from management into micromanagement. Micromanagement lowers employee’s happiness, and lessens their ability to learn, which can have long term effects on their job performance. There are a lot of ways to stop micromanaging, identify what is best for you and implement them quickly. By shifting your focus from management to leadership it allows you to guide your employees and gives them ownership of their role.
5. Take Time For Fun
If you never give employees the time and activities to bond and get to know each other they will not work as effectively as a team. Focus on team building and culture growing events every month as they not only bring teamwork, but give employees a chance to have some fun and be happy together. These do not have to be big extravagant events, but maybe a company sponsored lunch, or planning an hour of games to close out the workweek. These little things begin to add up and change a company’s culture for the better and increase employee engagement.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published October 29th 2014, and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.
Publish Date: August 14, 2017 5:00 AM
At A Better Answer, we’re proud of our country. In fact, Independence Day is one of our favorite holidays! Because of this, we’d like to take a moment and celebrate with our fellow Americans by sharing interesting facts related to July 4th, as well as celebrate a little history of our own.
Independence Day Facts
The Fourth of July isn’t just fireworks, burgers and hot dogs — it’s a celebration of history. But how well do you really know this holiday? Here are some interesting Independence Day-related facts from the United States Census Bureau that you might not be aware of:
- Patriot, Ind., (pop. 208) is the only incorporated place in America that has “patriot” in its name
- 2017 marks this year as the 241st Independence Day
- 5 million people celebrated the first Independence Day in 1776, compared to 325.3 million Americans today
- $311.7 million in fireworks was imported from China in 2015
- $4.4 million in U.S. flags were exported from America in 2015
That’s a lot of fireworks and flags! But it goes to show how many people appreciate the history of our great nation.
Speaking of history, A Better Answer is now in its 46th year as a Certified Minority Owned Business. A lot has changed since ABA first opened its doors in 1971, but one thing hasn’t: our commitment to delivering exceptional customer service that fits our clients’ needs. If you haven’t been able to find the time to enjoy the Fourth of July as much as you wanted to this year, why not consider hiring an answering service?
By outsourcing your calls to an answering service, you’ll free up your time to relax or focus on more important parts of your business. At A Better Answer, we provide 24/7 live telephone answering service, bilingual answering, appointment scheduling, web call handling, order entry, customer relationship management, escalated dispatch and much more.
Publish Date: July 4, 2017 5:00 AM
This month’s hero, Linda, helped a caller get access to some much-neededcounseling, despite some hesitancies from the caller.
Call Handling Hero® — Linda
Our winner for June 2017 is Linda from the Houston office. A caller, a victim ofdomestic violence recently discharged from the hospital, asked for a call back duringbusiness hours. Initially, Linda started taking a message, however the caller didn'tknow her own phone number and began talking about pain and confusion. Lindaoffered multiple times to put the caller through to an on-call counselor, but thecaller was insistent that she didn't want to disturb anyone's holiday. Linda stoodstrong, however, insisting that it was necessary and eventually transferring thecaller to the counselor. Good job to Linda for sticking with the caller, insisting shereceive the help we could provide and being this month’s Call Handling Hero!
Listen to Linda’s call here:
Publish Date: June 30, 2017 5:00 AM
A Better Answer is no stranger to awards. From winning the Association of TeleServices International Award of Excellence for 18 consecutive years to receiving several honors from the Dallas Business Journal, eWomenNetwork Foundation and other prestigious organizations, we have our fair share of them. They’re a true testament to the positive culture we’ve created for our staff and the exceptional customer service we provide for our customers.
The latest honor for ABA? Our CEO Dee Hawkins being named as a 2017 Enterprising Woman of the Year! Dee received the award and was recognized as one of the world’s top women entrepreneurs at the 15th Annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration and Conference, held April 2-4 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“The recipients of the 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards represent an amazing group of women entrepreneurs from across the United States and as far away as The Netherlands, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom and Canada,” said Monica Smiley, publisher and CEO of Enterprising Women. “We could not be more proud to recognize their accomplishments as CEOs of fast-growth companies, community leaders, and role models and mentors to other women and girls. We look forward to shining the spotlight on them at our 15th annual awards event in April."
According to the Enterprising Women website, “the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards is widely considered one of the most prestigious recognition programs for women business owners. To win, nominees must demonstrate that they have fast-growth businesses, mentor or activelysupport other women and girls involved in entrepreneurship, and stand out as leaders in their communities. Many of the honorees also serve as leaders of the key organizations that support the growth of women’s entrepreneurship.”
Dee said that more important than winning the award, however, was the honor of sharing knowledge, experience and successes from accomplished women leaders across the globe.
“I have learned so much and now have even more work ahead putting into place more streamlined and "high touch" techniques,” Dee wrote in a recent LinkedIn post. “I have become fast friends with a few of these tremendously successful women entrepreneurs and I am hopeful we'll see each other long before the next convention.”
Congrats to Dee!
Publish Date: June 5, 2017 5:00 AM
If your medical office is in search of an answering service, you’re probably looking for a company with representatives who are responsive. You also want people who will establish trust with your patients. But did you know that HIPAA compliance is important as well? In fact, it’s one of the primary boxes a medical answering service should check.
What is HIPAA?
Called “HIPAA” for short, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996 to make it easier for people to keep health insurance, protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information and help the healthcare industry control administrative costs. It also allows people to keep insurance between jobs without a lapse in coverage.
As a medical office, you’re undoubtedly well aware of this law. However, you may not have considered how it affects the answering service you hire. After all, you want to protect the confidentiality and security of your patients’ healthcare information.
The Importance of Patient Trust
It’s up to physicians and medical offices to maintain patient trust and the HIPAA law helps guarantee that. You are entrusted with very private and personal information from each of your patients. The staff in your office understands this and has been highly trained to maintain the regulations of your industry.
If you outsource your calls to an answering service, however, they may or may not have the same regulations in mind. They’re also entrusted with personal health information during every call that they accept for you. They store and transmit this information electronically. Because of this, they have to follow the same HIPAA regulations, or you could be subjected to penalties, fines or even criminal charges.
How to Know if Your Answering Service Is Compliant
What this all boils down to is that you need to be selective when hiring an answering service for your medical office. Ask the right questions. Your prospective answering service should readily know the answers to the following:
- Who is your HIPAA compliancy officer?
- What date was your last documented HIPAA training?
- How often do you train your operators?
- What protocols do you follow to store, transmit and destroy messages?
In the end, you want to ensure that anyone who handles data about your patients follows the appropriate rules to ensure HIPAA compliancy. This gives you peace of mind and gives your patients the trust they deserve.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Publish Date: March 29, 2017 5:00 AM