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Call Answering Checklist

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Hereís a call answering checklist you can use when setting up a call answering service. It is designed to help you think of the entire process in stages when deciding the type of call answering service thatís right for your business.

  • Scalability: The first item on the call answering checklist is the most important to small businesses. Your call answering system needs to grow with your business; it needs to be scalable from a small, three-extension service to a full-fledged answering service that operates after hours or even 24 hours a day. If you start with an interactive voice response system, or IVRS, it must be a flexible system that can support additional features you may not yet wish to use. For example, how many levels deep can the menus extend? Can it integrate with a text-to-speech system? These are important questions as you check this item off your call answering checklist.
  • Cost: For some businesses, this is the number one item on the call answering checklist, but it shouldnít be. Thatís because thereís nothing worse than having to switch call answering systems when youíre trying to grow your business. Thatís why scalability is number one on the call answering checklist, and cost is relegated to number two. This item has many components and varies greatly depending on whether you need a call answering service that employs people to answer your calls or whether an automated system will do just as well for you. An automated system that transfers calls between a few extensions and integrates with voicemail and faxing is going to run you a few hundred dollars or less. The good part about these systems is that thereís no monthly fee involved. Once you buy it, itís yours. If youíre really trying to pinch pennies, you can even pay much less for an IVRS that uses a voice modem inside a computer to do its work. These are less professional, but they can cost as little as $40. If you need your phones to be answered by a human and not a machine, itíll cost you considerably more, depending on how many calls you get and how many hours you need coverage. Obviously, this item on the call answering checklist could go into much greater detail, but if you need a complex system, your best bet is to shop around by talking to the providers that impress you the most and coming to a custom arrangement.
  • Flexibility: Why is this item so high on the call answering checklist? Modern systems can use every bit of communications technology out there to make sure youíre 100% covered, from home to the office, in the car and on vacation, (if you dare.) With the explosion of smartphones, you need a system that is as flexible as this technology is becoming. It should interact equally well with your smartphone, your office PC and your netbook.
  • Ease of Use: This item is on the call answering checklist, but it should almost go without saying. You want your system to be as easy to use by the IT department as it is by everyone else.

Whether youíre investing in your first system or upgrading one that turned out not to be scalable, these four areas should give you a great start on your call answering checklist.

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