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What questions should you ask when looking for an answering service?

What questions should you ask when looking for an answering service?

You decided it is time to get an answering service to help answer your calls. How do you decide which answering service will work for you?

Do you know the right questions to ask and how will you select the right answering service for your company? I am here to tell not all answering services bill alike. Make sure you understand the method of how each service is computing their charges. The answering service industry has numerous ways for charging their clients.

Here is a list of the different methods:

• Pay as you go

• Flat Rate

• Per Call

• Per Minute

Pay as you go:
You pay a low base rate for each billing cycle; look at this as an access fee. Then they charge you for every minute.

Flat Rate:
You pay the same amount every month. You can have 100 calls or 1000 calls and your rate is the same.

Per Call:
Most answering services will offer you a bundled package.
Example: 100 calls is $____ and $___ for every call over the 100 call package.

Per Minute:
This is also a bundled package just like the per call package; however, you are charged by the total time you use per billing cycle.

Questions you should ask:
1. How do you charge?
2. Do I have to sign a contract?
3. Do I have to sign a long term contact?
4. If I want to cancel the service what do I have to do?

It is prudent with call or minute plans to determine exactly what a call or a minute is defined as.

If they say per call:
Ask: Do you charge for incoming, outgoing calls or both?
Ask: Do you charge for paging, faxing, texting and MiSecure messages?
Ask: Do you put a screener on the account? If yes, do you charge for those calls? Do you charge if the caller hangs up while listening to the screener?
Ask: Do you charge for patching a call to the on call person?

If they say per minute or pay as you go:
Ask: Do you round each call by 6 seconds, 15 seconds, or round up to a full minute?
Ask: How do you calculate the time? Is it when the caller is talking to the live operator or when the caller is listening to the screener or both?
Ask: Do you charge for paging, faxing, texting and MiSecure messages?
Ask: Do you charge for patching a call to the on call person?

If they say Flat Rate:
Ask: How often do you have a price increase?
Ask: Can I forward my phones at any time and not pay any additional fees?
Ask: Do you charge for paging, faxing, texting and MiSecure messages?
Ask: Do you charge for patching a call to the on call person?

answering service

Just remember these few tips:
When comparing the plans above keep in mind a call usually takes 2.0 minutes if the operator is getting the caller’s name, phone number and reason for the call. Remember: 1 call = 2.0 minutes. If you have the answering service ask more questions, the call will be longer. Make sure you calculate the average duration of each call to compare to per call plans. Then compare plans to find out which one will suit your needs.

If you ask these questions you will then be comparing apples to apples.

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