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A Better Answer - Blog Page 4

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Call Center Turnover: Why Employees Leave and How to Retain Them

When you hear the words “call center,” does it immediately bring to mind endless rows of people chattering away on headsets? If so, you have a pretty accurate idea of what a call center is like. One thing associated with many call centers is an extremely high turnover rate. As a matter of fact, the average time a U.S. call center representative remains at one job is about three years. 

Keeping good employees in a potentially monotonous job can be challenging for some businesses. If you’re considering hiring a call center, you may want to understand more about the employees you’ll be hiring to represent your company.

Why Call Center Employees Leave

There are a number of reasons why employees leave their call center jobs. The age of the call center employee seems to be a deciding factor in their tenure with a company, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The statistics show that the younger the employee, the shorter their stay:

  • Average tenure for ages 20 – 24:1 years
  • Average tenure for ages 25 – 34:7 years

Here are some other factors of call center employee turnover:

  • Wages and benefits
  • Lack of career opportunities
  • Poor match for the job
  • Training and performance challenges
  • Supervisory issues
  • Low morale or burnout 

Employee turnover tends to be higher in routine positions, while employees in more specialized trained positions stay with companies longer.

The Cost of Call Center Turnover

There are many costs associated with hiring a new call center employee. If an employee doesn’t stick around for long, these costs can be doubled or sometimes tripled in a single year. Some costs may also cause collateral damage to your business.

The costs associated with hiring and turnover include:

  • Recruitment and hiring – advertising, job fairs, human resources time and salary
  • Training time – getting paid when the employee isn’t actively taking calls
  • Training materials and resources – including the trainer’s time and salary
  • Possible poor customer service due to low staffing
  • Lower morale for other employees who may be overworked
  • Lower productivity
  • Risk for more employee turnover

Source: Exploring Call Center Turnover Numbers

Retaining Call Center Staff 

Retention of employees may take more effort on the part of the call center, but will soon pay off when examining the cost of turnover. Let’s consider each step of the process and tweaks that may keep employees around longer:

  • Hiring: A well-examined hiring process may go far in correcting the challenges with poor job match. Assessing the personality traits and current skills of an applicant may help determine if the person is a good fit.
  • Wages and Benefits: Retaining quality employees means offering a salary that is competitive with other businesses in your market. Benefits can be expensive to offer employees but compared to the cost of employee turnover, they are worth considering.
  • Staff Training and Career Opportunities: A documented training plan, legacy employees and opportunities for advancement go a long way in impressing a new employee. If the employee can be ramped up quickly, they are going to feel as if they are valuable, contributing to the company sooner rather than later.
  • Employee Morale: Little perks like breaks, snacks and downtime help keep employees from suffering burnout. Creating a great workplace environment allows employees to decrease stress and love their job.

In the end, keeping high quality and trained professional staff in a call center may take extra effort, but those efforts are valuable.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: November 17, 2016 5:00 AM

Questions to Ask When Shopping for an Answering Service in Dallas

Geography is an important factor to think about when outsourcing services for your business. For example, if your business is in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or surrounding area and you’re considering hiring an answering service, the company’s location may help determine if they’re the best fit. High touch is still highly valued, after all.

But is location the most important thing to think about? The fact an answering service is in Dallas doesn’t mean they can deliver the reliable customer service experience you need and exceed your expectations. So how do you know if an answering service is right for you? Here are some questions to ask when searching for the best answering service in DFW:

How do you train your employees?

One of the most important factors when hiring a Dallas answering service is the way the service seamlessly represents your company. You’ll want to ask about the training of the call handlers that will be taking your customer calls. You may also want to think about what scripts they’ll need and what information they should be able to give to callers.

What is your turnover rate? 

If the Dallas answering service treats its employees well, there’s a higher possibility that they will treat your customers well too. An answering service with a low turnover rate means you may have a few particular agents who will get the opportunity to know your customers well and become more familiar with your business. This is yet another way that the right answering service becomes a part of your company.

What are your call performance standards?

This question can be broken down into the following sub-questions:

  • What is the average number of rings before a call is answered?
  • How long are hold times?
  • What is the approximate length of a call?

You want to know that your calls are being handled efficiently and that your Dallas customers aren’t sitting on hold. You’ll also want to have some idea of how many calls the service will be able to handle if you have fluctuating call volume.

How do you address my business’ specific needs?

Many industries have specific needs that not all answering services can handle. For instance, medical practices need a service that is HIPAA compliant. If you have a large Hispanic clientele, find out if bilingual agents will answer your calls. Voice your expectations, such as: 

  • How many calls you believe you’ll receive
  • How long each call will be
  • Whether you’ll need 24/7 availability
  • If there are times of the day that your call volume is higher or lower

Make sure to ask the tough questions that are unique to your industry in advance to ensure there are no surprises.

What kind of contract or billing cycle can I expect?

Some answering services in Dallas will attempt to lock you into a long contract period on a plan that may not fit your needs. Also, you could be billed by the call or by the minute. An understanding of your needs will greatly assist an answering service sales manager when constructing your contract. 

An answering service with quality training, happy employees and flexibility to meet your needs is an answering service worth investigating further. The right service will become a helpful extension to your business so you can focus on other aspects. The best Dallas answering service will also help you retain current customers and offer a helpful tone to new prospects. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: October 6, 2016 5:00 AM

3 Tips for Gracefully Handling Emergency Calls

In the world of customer service and call centers, every single phone call is different. The person answering the phone must be prepared for a variety of personalities, challenges and temperaments when the call begins. An emergency call can be especially challenging if the call agent is not prepared. For medical practices and hospitals with regular emergency calls, gracefully handling the situation is especially important. 

Here are a few tips to handle emergency calls with grace: 

1. Listen

First and foremost, truly listen to the person on the other end of the receiver. Take note of not only their words, but also how they are speaking. Are they having difficulty speaking English? Do they sound angry or frustrated? Is there panic in their words? Take deep breaths and do your best to remain calm. If you’re calm, your calmness will more than likely affect the caller as well. 

Listen to what the caller is telling you. Allow the caller to vent. Don’t make assumptions nor attempt to correct the caller. Do your best to get a good perspective of what has caused the caller to place an emergency call.

 2. Communicate

After callers vent or voice their concerns, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. Do your best to communicate honestly and sincerely, asking questions to verify your understanding of the situation. If the caller attempts to argue or intimidate, remember to stay calm and listen. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that the caller was already upset before the call, so do not react personally. Instead, ask what you can do to help further or offer what options you have to resolve the case. Use an empathetic and caring tone of voice when communicating with the caller. In the caller’s current state, they need to feel as if they are being heard and that their concerns are a priority.

 3. Resolve

As a call handler, you should already have resolution options available for callers. Do you forward the caller to someone on call? Do you take a message? In the case of an emergency call, the best option — if you are unable to resolve it yourself — is to get another person on the phone that can. Do not “pass the buck.” Instead, stay on the line to make sure the caller is working with someone who can truly help them. 

State specifically what it is that you are going to do to resolve the call for the customer or client. Let them know exactly what you can do, what you can’t do and what they should expect. Once the caller understands that they are in your competent hands, they will more than likely relax. Use phrased questions like:

  • “Does that work for you?”
  • “Am I making sense?”
  • “Are you okay with that?”

Listen again and take note if the caller still feels unsettled. Again, make sure you are listening, communicating effectively and offering options to help the caller feel satisfied that you have done all that you can.

Of course, the right call center can ensure your emergency calls are being handled appropriately. Find the right one and you can feel confident that you are providing the best customer service.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 


Publish Date: September 21, 2016 5:00 AM

Using Your Voice: 4 Factors to Think About During Your Next Call with a Customer

They say that 10 percent of conflict is due to a difference in opinion; the other 90 percent is due to the wrong tone of voice. When it comes to your customers, this is definitely something to keep in mind, as your voice can determine the outcome of any call. Just as you can give a caller a high level of comfort, you can give a caller a high level of anxiety — all with just your voice.

The voice you project is determined by four factors: energy, rate of speech, pitch and quality. You have complete control of all of these factors and can change them to create a professional environment between you and the caller. Here’s what you should think about for each factor:

1. Energy

Energy reflects your attitude and your level of enthusiasm. Higher (positive) energy will make your callers and customers feel like they are being listened to and will give them confidence that their message is being handled properly. Low (negative) energy, on the other hand, can come off as indifferent and give the caller a sense that their message or issue is not important.

2. Rate of Speech

The normal rate of speech is 125 words per minute. A faster rate of speech may make the caller think you’re rushing to get through the call. It also may make you harder to understand. A slower rate of speech creates the image to the caller that you do not know what you’re talking about or that you’re talking down to them. Both rates reflect poorly on the operator and can cost you control of the call.

3. Pitch

The pitch of your voice — the height or depth in the tone of your voice — can also affect the way the caller perceives you. A monotone pitch, where there are no changes in the tone of your voice, is the most difficult to listen to for any long period of time (think Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). A high pitch wears on nerves very quickly and can sound unprofessional. Pitch can also have other effects; for example, ending sentences by bringing your voice up to a high pitch will immediately turn whatever you’re saying into a question instead of a statement. In the end, low pitch is the easiest to understand.

4. Quality

Combined, the first three factors make up the quality of your unique personal voice profile. Maintaining a positive energy level, talking at the normal rate of speech and avoiding monotonous or high pitches should be a priority when speaking with customers.

Fortunately, the right answering service will excel at all of these. Find the right one and you’re sure to impress any caller!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: September 13, 2016 5:00 AM

The Difference Between a Call Center and Answering Service

Sometimes, people and companies use the terms "answering service" and "call center" interchangeably. In reality, they are very different. In order to help you decide which service is right for you, allow us to expand upon the differences between an answering service and a call center.

Answering Service

An answering service is typically appropriate for industries where a caller is requesting or uses a service (aka service industries). These markets include, but are not limited to:

  • Health/medical services such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, etc.
  • HVAC companies, lawn service, plumbing or any other home maintenance services
  • Restaurants and food service businesses
  • Law firms, attorneys and other businesses in the legal industry

The service provided to these companies goes beyond answering the phone and taking a message. There is also the possibility of escalating the call in case of an emergency. The call handler must be privy to the subtleties of the industry and have some training to understand when the call needs to be escalated. The call handler must also be empathetic to the caller and handle the needs of the emergency call gracefully.

Call Center

A call center is generally appropriate when each call is nearly the same. In this case, the call handler's answers are likely scripted and follow a general order. Call centers can be used for: 

  • Order taking
  • Help desk
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Registration 

The needs of the caller are more straightforward and the call handler needs little-to-no training.

Choosing the Right One for Your Business

Whether your needs are simple or complex will determine whether you require an answering service or a call center. Answering service calls are more complex and can be escalated. Call center calls require less training for the call representative and no escalation is needed.

Whatever you require, A Better Answer has the skills and experience to make your callers feel that your business is in great hands. We handle calls for a wide variety of industries and are always adding more. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: September 8, 2016 5:00 AM

Call Center Price vs. Call Center Value

It’s a common question many business owners ask themselves: “Doesn’t getting the cheapest price give the best value to my business?” While we all want to save as much as we can, lower price doesn’t necessarily translate to more value in the answering service/call center industry. A successful businessman put it this way: 

“There are three ideals for customer service: quickest delivery, highest quality and the cheapest price — you can’t get all three, but you can usually get two.”

Whether because of a tough economy or you’re simply experiencing tighter times than usual in your businesses, moving from live answering to telephone prompts may seem like the best option, since it’s typically more affordable. But many times, it’s actually possible to reduce your answering service rates by adding one or more automated services rather than decreasing your live operator rate.

Other times, you may be approached by any number of competing answering service bureaus or call centers that are trying to win your business. Usually, these competitors offer a cheaper rate initially as an attractive reason to change. But will it last? The better decision, the value decision, would be to incorporate these factors: 

  • Call handling accuracy
  • Call handling response time
  • Customer care and courtesy
  • Latest answering service technology

You don’t want to regret your call center decision after it’s too late. As astronaut John Glenn said, when asked what was going through his mind while awaiting liftoff, “I was thinking that the rocket had twenty thousand components, and each was made by the lowest bidder!” Our astronauts deserve better, and so does your company.

In the end, when the final decision has been made, it’s high answering service quality, not low pricing, that wins the day and makes customers happy. An answering service is just that… a service, not a commodity. Not all call centers are created equal.

To choose the right one for your business, determine whether price or value is your biggest priority.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: August 30, 2016 5:00 AM

When Hiring a Cheap Answering Service, You Get What You Pay For

There are many reasons a company would hire an answering service. One of those reasons is efficiency. You want to be able to focus on your primary business and trust someone else to handle the customer service or after-hours calls. You also want to build a business and save money. If you’re thinking of hiring a cheap answering service, however, it may end up costing more than you think. Here are a few reasons why you often get what you pay for when it comes to hiring a cheap answering service:

Quality Customer Service

In order for an answering service company to attract better clients, it first needs to attract great employees. These employees understand the importance of their job and have had extensive training and previous experience handling phone calls of all types. Employees who provide excellent customer service skills are in high demand, which translates to a better salary. As with anything else, quality costs a bit more, but happier clients are worth it. Happier clients are also willing to pay more and refer more businesses as well.

Client Retention

You’ve seen it all over the news. Social media means that if your customer or client has a bad experience, that experience can spread like wildfire. At first, it may seem you’re saving money by hiring a cheap answering service, but one bad experience can lead to many a marketing nightmare. If your branding is damaged, how much time and money do you have to repair it? You want more clients for your business, of course, but isn’t it less expensive to keep the ones you have?

A Comforting and Positive Experience

The small business experience means just that — no red tape and the ability to talk to a real human. No one expects to talk to a dispassionate and emotionless person on the other end of a phone line when they’re having a real problem or in an emergency situation. People want empathy and human kindness. A cheap answering service may get the job done for you, but are they invested and caring enough to provide a comforting and positive experience for those who are calling? Or are they just fielding the call with little to no training, experience or compassion for the client with whom they are speaking?

At A Better Answer, we’re never “just” an answering service. Our employees love working for us and often stay with us for years. They are happy to answer your phone for you and touch people’s lives on a daily basis. We pride ourselves on the quality customer service and satisfaction we offer every day. We’ll keep your customers and clients happy! 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: August 8, 2016 5:00 AM

Bilingual Answering Services: Why They Matter

Did you know that the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world? According to a recent report from Spanish nonprofit, Instituto Cervantes, the US has more than 41 million Spanish speakers and another 11.6 million people who are bilingual among people ages 5 and older. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Spanish speakers is projected to rise 132.8 million by the year 2050.

So what does this mean for business owners? That it’s more important than ever for your customer communications, call centers or answering services to have someone on staff to answer calls in Spanish. 

Making Your Customers More Comfortable

Your business needs require someone who speaks fluent Spanish so that Hispanic clients or callers are better understood and comfortable communicating in their native language. As of July 1, 2014, the Hispanic population of the United States was 55 million, constituting 17 percent of the nation’s total populating, according to the Census Bureau statistics linked to above. So making your business accessible to Hispanic clients or callers should be a big priority.

Making sure you are providing the best service to your client is only part of the reason for bilingual answering services, however. It actually helps drive customer satisfaction and loyalty by speaking the same language, according to an article by CRM magazine. That means revenue growth and customer retention for your business.

A Better Answer’s Bilingual Capabilities

As always, A Better Answer wants to provide a seamless customer service experience and a positive representation of your office, and providing bilingual answering services is yet another quality service we offer. All of our experienced bilingual call handlers are highly professional and trained and certified to handle calls for your Hispanic customers and escalate when necessary. 

Ultimately, at A Better Answer, we want to provide the same professional and quality service that you expect from us for the Hispanic portion of your client community. Contact us today to learn more about our bilingual answering services and why they matter for your business.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: July 26, 2016 5:00 AM

5 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You about Customer Service

As a manager or business owner, taking some time to look at what your competitors are doing can teach you how to win more customers. To begin with, an increasing number of organizations focus on customer service more than ever before. Why? According to several case studies, offering customers excellent service is the only way a company can thrive, regardless of its industry sector.

“We can be bothered” is the slogan Simplyhealth—a company boasting award-winning commitment to offering excellent healthcare—uses to summarize the exceptional personal customer service it has provided for more than 140 years. Following a customer-centric approach, this healthcare provider has achieved massive success, with more than 3 million happy customers and 20,000 health schemes offered until now.

Customer service. After all, it’s often the only contact customers have with organizations. When people have questions about the products or services they intend to get (or have already purchased), they expect to find a company representative capable of resolving their problems. They also want that person to be professional, courteous and caring.

How do you meet these expectations? By looking at your competitors. Here’s what they can teach you about customer service:

1. Offer Round-the-Clock Service

Outsourcing customer service to professional 24-hour call centers is one of the best ways to ensure that all calls are answered on time and situations are handled efficiently. By simply opting for an experienced and dependable call center available day and night, an organization offering IT support in California has achieved incredible results with incoming call volume. In fact, it increased by 45 percent within several months.

2. Make a Compassionate Connection

For a person facing a difficult situation, informed, compassionate communication is very important, as a hospice facility serving the Wisconsin area found out. According to the director of the center, one of the things he considered before outsourcing his call answering service was the ability of call center staff to show empathy to patients and their families. Although industry-specific knowledge is essential in certain fields (such as medicine and law), a compassionate, caring and friendly staff committed to offering people all the support they need to cope with difficult life situations is of paramount importance.

3. Go One Step Further Than Necessary

Sleep Country Canada, a renowned mattress retailer, promises professional, on-time delivery. Its delivery teams not only bring products according to the schedule, they also show respect for customers by putting on clean booties before walking into someone’s house. In this example, going one step further consists in wearing clean equipment. In your case, it might be dealing with a complaint expeditiously or calling a customer back instead of waiting for him or her to call you.

4. Get Feedback From Customers

Organizing a survey is one of the things you can do to assess the responsiveness, professionalism and productivity of your customer service. Knowing exactly how helpful, knowledgeable, and caring your staff is can help you understand what areas you need to improve. To ensure superior service, most successful businesses run customer satisfaction surveys regularly. 

5. Implement Successful Strategies

Based on customer satisfaction surveys, organizations develop new strategies to enhance their service level. To get the most out of such strategies, you must focus on identifying and anticipating customer needs, making your customers feel valued, and offering them more than they expect.

To leverage customer service even more, offer your staff a regular dose of appreciation and treat them with respect. Showing employees how much they matter to you then incentivizes them to have a higher regard for all your customers. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: July 22, 2016 5:00 AM

Handling Customer Service Issues Through Social Media

Thanks to modern technology, we have unprecedented access to everyone and everything. This can either help or harm your business, especially when it involves social networking. If you try to avoid social media—or worse, don't run your social media platforms correctly—it could harm your business as consumers flock to your more social media-savvy competitors.

However, if you properly engage consumers on your social media platforms, it will be extremely beneficial for your business. Many of them are already tethered to social media from the moment they wake up until they are asleep. That’s why one of the best ways to use social media is as a customer issue resolution tool. 

Why Social Media Is Important

You need social media to compete in this increasingly internet-based world. Unfortunately, people love to complain, especially when they can do it from the comfort of their own computer. Although businesses have become accustomed to seeing the occasional negative review or complaint, viewing a constant bombardment of complaints on your social media page will make people question the viability of your offerings and customer service.

Unfortunately, blocking them (assuming that they aren't “trolls”) is simply not an option. You don’t want to further anger already irate customers; you cannot block them from talking to their friends or writing negative reviews other sites. On the other hand, if you publicly address the customer service issue, not only will it satisfy most of the complainers, but you will also see a spike in consumer goodwill. In essence, handling customer complaints on your social networks can be a powerful marketing tool if you use it right.

5 Ways You can Use Social Media to Handle Customer Service Issues

Simply knowing that you need to resolve customer service issues via social media will not get the job done. You need to have an intelligent plan of execution to optimize the business benefits of handling customer issues on your social networks. That being said, here are five ways you can handle customer service issues using social media:

  1. Monitor your comments, messages, tags, hashtags, etc.: If you don't know about a problem, you cannot solve it. Make sure to check your messages, tags and comments at least once per day. Also, be on the lookout for negative hashtags circulating about your business. This usually indicates a much deeper problem than a basic customer complaint, but you need to be aware of them. Also, you can potentially resolve the problem by contacting and helping the customer(s) who started the negative hashtag.
  2. Respond quickly: Nobody likes to be kept waiting. The faster you solve the problem, the better the customer will feel about your company at the end of the day. Also, never forget that irate customers will not stop at your page—they will lambaste you on other sites as well.
  3. Be (a little) picky: You should never ignore customer complaints. However, the customers with the most followers (biggest reach) should come first, since their influence can help (or hurt) more.
  4. Follow the basic customer care tenets: Listening, empathizing, apologizing and actually resolving the issues are key elements to properly handling issues via social media. Treat them as if they had walked into your store or office with a complaint.
  5. Use the social media platform that they prefer: If a customer complains via Twitter, don't contact them via Facebook because youhave more followers there. If they complained with Twitter, it is because they prefer it instead of other platforms.

At A Better Answer, we believe we can handle almost any customer service task for your business—including social media. To learn more, contact us today.


Publish Date: June 27, 2016 5:00 AM

5 Things Every Medical Office Needs in an Answering Service

As a physician, you do your best to build trust with your patients. Wouldn't you want an answering service to continue to build and reinforce what you've already started?Hiring an answering service for your medical office means that you and your staff can focus on doing what you love most: caring for patients. The right answering service will allow you the same peace of mind that you offer your own patients.

Here are five things every medical office should look for in the right answering service:

1. A Highly Trained, Professional Staff

Your medical office takes calls day and night because a medical emergency could happen at any time. If you're unavailable, you want to know that a trusted, professional staff that understands the nature of your business is handling your calls. The right answering service hires empathetic, courteous and professional representatives to work for you. They will be trained to escalate the call when needed, keep up with doctor and nurse schedules and schedule appointments. A patient call will be handled seamlessly, as if the call representative was sitting in your office.

2. Full HIPAA Compliancy

Your answering service is considered an associate to your practice and therefore should be HIPAA compliant. Your patients are supplying personal information and you need to make sure you are following the proper regulations in your industry. Hiring a third party answering service could put you at risk if they are not HIPAA compliant. The right answering service will ensure that your patients’ medical records and other personal health information are protected and used properly, following government standards.

3. Availability 

A medical office or hospital works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and must adhere to doctor and nurse schedules, as well as on-call schedules. Your phones should be answered by a service that will be available any time and answer every call. The right answering service for your medical office will invest in the latest technology and backup power to be available to you and your patients whenever needed.

4. Promptness

When a patient is urgently calling your office, you want like to know that their call will be answered promptly and professionally. The right answering service will answer your calls within one or two rings, have a less than a minute average hold time and have a less than 10% average calls on hold.

5. Customizable Solutions

Every medical office is different and every medical situation is different. You need to know that your calls are being handled with this in mind. The right answering service will offer many options for your office including customized message formats, customized call handling by situation and customized scripts. These solutions should fit your needs like a glove, so that you can focus on the task at hand: taking care of your patients.

 If you are considering an answering service for your medical office, please consider A Better Answer. ABA has a full range of services and over 38 years of experience to make your telephone, monitoring and dispatch services a great success. Download our guide below for more information.


Publish Date: June 16, 2016 5:00 AM

What Happens to Your Customer Communication When There Is a Natural Disaster?

Floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, oh my! Natural disasters are a big problem for businesses that communicate regularly with customers—especially if you’re in a disaster-prone area like Tornado Alley or near the coast. Sometimes it seems like a new natural disaster season is always around the corner. So what happens to your business when there’s a natural disaster? If you’re not prepared, you could lose your communication abilities, leading to lost revenue and customers.

Fortunately, at A Better Answer Call Centers, we taken extra precautions against such situations and have formulated emergency call center contingency plans that let us do everything in our power to not only protect ourselves, but meet the communication needs of our customers should any natural disaster take place.

The Benefits of Regional Offices

A tremendous advantage of using a call center with remote offices is that if a natural disaster occurs in one location, the other two bureaus can take over to handle customer calls with shared lines and staff. We have three offices: our corporate office in Dallas/Plano and regional offices in Fort Worth and Houston.

We also utilize remote Telephone Service Representatives (also known as “TSRs”) that operate outside of these areas and can jump in to handle any increased activity due to an influx of concerned callers checking on their families, friends and customers. Also, we’ve found that most of our clients forward their local phone lines using Telco call forwarding. Should that method fall off during a disaster, ABA can help get this reinstated so you don’t lose any calls. 

The Drawbacks of Foreign Call Centers 

ABA is local to many of our customers, so we understand what’s really going on. We safely reroute calls to another location in case you can’t answer— whether that’s for a few minutes, a day or even longer. Our staff is trained to know our geographic areas. Foreign call centers can be at a serious disadvantage in such situations. It can be difficult for them to understand the impact of a local natural disaster and be flexible enough to make the necessary changes to handle the crisis. Business owners and managers deserve to be able to sleep at night knowing that their business calls are going to be answered and that business communications are safe and secure.

Why A Proven Disaster Plan is Essential

Finally, as part of our call center disaster plan, we back up communication with several uninterruptable power supplies, on-site generators and backup contracts with local generator suppliers. In addition, we’ve implemented a vendor “guarantee of redistribution” for all calls if those emergency precautions fail.

With more than 45 years experience taking calls for our customers, A Better Answer is your communication solution for natural disasters. Contact us today to see why we’re your Call Handling Heroes.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: June 10, 2016 5:00 AM

Comparing Call Center Cost and Value

There’s a difference between cost and value. Cost is the actual price for something. Value is how much it’s worth to you. If you’re a business owner considering a call center, this is an important thing to keep in mind. Just because one call center may offer the cheapest price, it doesn’t necessarily mean they provide the best value for your business.

Making the Value Decision

Businesses are often approached by any number of competing answering service bureaus or call centers that are trying to win their business. Usually, these competitors offer a cheaper rate that’s initially attractive reason to change. So what happens? They usually choose the call center with the cheapest rate. The better decision, the value decision, would be to incorporate these factors:

  • Call handling accuracy
  • Call handling response time
  • Customer care and courtesy
  • Latest answering service technology

A call center may not always be the lowest bidder, but if they have a history of satisfied customers and a commitment to quality service, it will provide value in the long run. If their Telephone Service Representatives (TSR’s) are some of the best in the business, their services come at a premium.

What Sets Us Apart

At A Better Answer, our staff regularly attends webinars, seminars, and in-house training in order to keep their skills honed at the highest level. All TSRs are trained on all accounts before they actually handle any messaging live. TSRs are monitored daily to be sure all messages are top notch. ABA is also enrolled in quality assurance testing. We invite you to come to one of our offices, observe our call handlers in action and take a look at our office walls, which are covered with quality call handling awards – some of the highest in the industry.

It is not unusual, should we have lost a client to another service, to have them return back to us. They say, “Leaving ABA was the biggest mistake we have ever made.” Additionally, they will add, “I am so sorry we left you. We even lost some clients because they loved your telephone staff so much.” It’s always a joy to welcome any customer back with open arms. A company that uses a second-rate call center will eventually experience “business laryngitis”… the loss of their professional “voice”.

In the end, it’s answering service quality, not low pricing, that wins the day and makes happy customers. A call center that provides that is a commodity.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: May 25, 2016 5:00 AM

Small Business Tips: 6 Benefits for Outsourcing Your Customer Service Proecesses

Big corporations enjoy many benefits from outsourcing their customer service processes to third-party providers. But did you know small businesses have the ability do the same thing?

Here are the advantages of outsourcing your customer service processes:

  1. More time for core activities
    When you outsource customer service (e.g., hire a small business answering service to handle all inbound calls from clients), you can focus more on your core activities without sacrificing the quality of your back office operations.

  2. Reduced overhead costs 
    As your business grows, so do your expenses. But instead of spending on expensive equipment, invest in outsourcing instead. In this way, you pay only for what you use and for how long you use it. You won't have to worry about maintenance and replacement of hardware.

  3. Fast operations setup 
    Third-party service providers specializing on a process can immediately get their services up and running — sometimes within days, other times within hours. You can't expect the same if you're doing everything yourself and starting from scratch.

  4. Labor savings
    Hiring and training people can eat up a big portion of your budget, so why spend on employees serving a support-only function? It's better to invest in recruiting and educating people who'll work on your business's core activities and leave the support to third-party service providers.

  5. Improved efficiency
    When you have more time for what matters most, your business becomes much more efficient. Third-party service providers are really helpful when it comes to taking on peripheral processes so that you wouldn't have to worry about them.

  6. Better flexibility
    Technology and its accompanying regulations evolve quickly especially in this digital age. Outsourcing gives you the option to adapt to change much faster to any new changes in the tech front.

Do you think outsourcing is right for you? Try it out and you’ll see that something as simple as a small business answering service is enough to make a difference. Instead of buying telecommunications systems, recruiting phone representatives, and training them for weeks, why not take advantage of the services an answering service can offer.

You can count on us to know exactly what we're talking about when it comes to great customer service. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: May 19, 2016 5:00 AM

Live Answer vs. Interactive Phone Menus: Which is Better for Customer Satisfaction?

It’s a question any business with inbound calls must ask itself: live answer or interactive phone menus? While it’s true that businesses with interactive phone menus and automated systems can handle a higher volume of inbound calls, a recent report from the CFI Group — a company specializing in improving customer satisfaction — clearly shows that reaching a live representative instead of an automated phone menu makes a significant difference in customer satisfaction.

What the Statistics Show

To show this difference in customer satisfaction, the CFI Group releases a Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) annually. The index is an extensive study of customer satisfaction with contact centers across six major industries: banking/credit unions, health insurance, cable or satellite TV, property/casualty insurance, cell phone service and retail. Among other things, the CCSI measures the differences between calls with a live representative and an automated system.

According to the 2014 CCSI, which was released on February 25, 2015, overall customer satisfaction increased from a CCSI Score of 69 (based on a 100-point scale) in 2013 to a score of 72 in 2014. But more importantly, the CCSI found that there was 40% higher satisfaction among customers who interacted solely with a live agent than those who interacted with an automated system. Furthermore, statistics show that many people immediately try to bypass automated options in hopes of talking to a live operator.

Why Customers Prefer Real Operators

Automated phone menus were created to efficiently direct the customer to the correct information. As the CCSI shows, even with technological advancements and other enhancements in these menu systems, customers prefer speaking with a live operator directly.

Put simply, people want to talk to people. They don’t want a “virtual receptionist” with an automated voice that makes poor attempts to recognize what it thinks the customer said. How many times have you had to sit through a long-winded menu when you just needed the answer to one simple question?

At A Better Answer, we know that even the most simplified, straightforward phone menu systems are still no match for the warm greeting of a live answering service. If you’re interested in our award-winning services, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Let us be your Call Handling Heroes!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Publish Date: May 18, 2016 5:00 AM

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