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Do I Need a Call Center or an Answering Service?

 

Call center services and answering services aren’t quite the same thing. So let’s examine the differences between the two in order to determine if you need a call center or an answering service.

Image of four people working in a call center providing answering service

We  often speak with prospective customers who do not know if they need to use call center support or an answering service. This is because they just don’t know the difference between the two. And that’s understandable. Most people who haven’t worked with either one don’t have a reason to know the difference. But if you’re reading this, it’s probably time to learn so you can make the right decision when choosing a good outsourced solution to fill your needs.

Here is a look into the fundamental differences between these support models so you can determine if you need a call center or an answering service…

TELEPHONE ANSWERING SERVICE

A telephone answering service is designed to handle a high volume of calls in a relatively short period of time. Telephone answering calls have a fairly specific nature:

  • Short duration calls (1 to 2 minutes in length)
  • Basic information gathered (Name, Number, Message)
  • Quick relay of message (text, voice, email, etc.)

Operators that work in a telephone answering service environment will be tasked with answering 1 call a time or up to 3 calls simultaneously. Sound Telecom, for example, is a “1 call” environment. We choose to answer all calls with a live operator and never put anyone on hold until the call is complete. Contrary to this you have “3 call” support models where agents can be assigned up to 3 calls at a time. The agent will put the other calls on hold until they can get to them.

An answering service is also considered a “shared agent” environment. That means that operators are trained and staffed to handle calls from a variety of different customers. Therefore, operators are “shared” by the accounts that they support. The agents work off scripts customized for each business so they can go from one account to another, answering calls and sounds like they are a part of whichever business they are answering for.

CALL CENTER SUPPORT

Call center support models vary greatly. But call center support can be described as longer duration phone calls handled by one operator at a time. Call center support is:

  • Longer duration calls (3 minutes or more with 5 minutes being a strong average)
  • Scripted, Dynamic response environment (agents can handle any number of questions or issues presented to them)
  • 1-call service resolution is the goal (operators are trained not to take messages but to resolve issues completely)

Call Center operators also work in a “scripted” environment, but compared to answering service scripts, they can me much more involved and complex. This means that agents can handle any number of service or support issues that come their way. Companies that hire call center support are usually looking for help with technical support/help desk, order entry/order processing and other types of support. Learn more about inbound call center services here.

Agents that work in traditional call centers are often  “dedicated” to the job they are performing. That means they take calls only for a single type of customer. Sound Telecom not only offers dedicated agent support, but also offers a hybrid model, which is known as the semi-dedicated agent. This is a huge advantage to businesses seeking a highly efficient and economical call center service model. Shared call center support allows agents to stay busy taking calls for different types of customers at the same time. The shared support model is becoming more popular every day with business owners.

Choosing the right service platform will really depend on your specific needs. If you still want more information to help you decide if you need a call center or an answering service, or need help finding the support that is right for you, feel free to give us a call or fill out our contact form.

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This entry was posted in Answering Service, Call Center News and tagged , , by Brian Gabriel. Bookmark the permalink.

About Brian Gabriel

As the Call Center Manager for Sound Telecom, Brian is responsible for overseeing the daily operations and long term success of the company while managing a variety of inbound customer support programs. He also has a hand in taking care of the Solaxis services division. Prior to joining Sound Telecom, Mr. Gabriel held management positions with several prominent Internet Services companies including XpenseWise.com and Greatfood.com. Brian started his career in advertising and sales before moving to Washington State. He joined AEI Music in 1995 and supervised their international customer service department and technical support call centers. Brian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish languages from San Diego State University. Brian teaches adult education at his church and actively supports Christian ministries.