Although the two terms are used interchangeably, there are key differences that significantly set apart answering services vs call center services.
These customer service providers cater to the varying needs of their clients. Telling apart answering services vs call center services can help you get the most out of them when using their diverse capabilities for remote customer support.
Additionally, knowing how one differs from the other can help you identify more clearly which one you should employ for your business needs and requirements.
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Distinguishing Between Answering Services vs Call Center Services
Technically, answering service is a type of call center. While call center service is a term that more broadly covers a scope of functions, answering service is narrower in that it takes on and delivers more specific set of client support tasks.
Tailored to accommodate large amounts of calls, phone answering service operators are equipped and enabled to take up to three calls at the same time.
After gathering the necessary basic information such as name, phone number, and the issue to be tackled, from callers, they will provide an SMS, email, among other details to help the client resolve the concern. They can also potentially redirect the client to another contact person who can most suitably provide the best solution or response.
The coverage of call center answering service includes taking messages, scheduling appointments, and attending to emergency inbound calls, to name a few. Its work and operations can be used across many industries and market segments.
On the other hand, call center service providers are trained to support the calls about more complex issues and questions, handling them with more detailed attention and ideally staying with the client until concerns are completely addressed and resolved. Customer service representatives at call centers conduct operations under a more scripted background and setup.
The scope of a call center answering service can range from inbound and outbound calls, to email and chat support, to selling, web and more sophisticated tech support. Using multiple communication channels, it is also capable of serving numerous market segments in various industries.
The distinction between phone answering services vs call center services essentially lies in the following key indicators.
This is one significant differentiator between answering services vs call center services.
In customer service answering service, attendants of calls follow through simpler scripts that make conversations with customers sound more natural. Call center agents use more thoroughly prepared and detailed scripts owing to the more complex nature of issues they handle.
Collection of Information
Both of these service providers need and verify the caller’s most basic details—name, phone number, and the reason for why they are calling.
These usually suffice for answering services. However, for call center services, customer care agents may carry on asking for further information that is specific to the issue at hand. Depending on the situation, the latter may gather more in-depth, comprehensive data from the customer especially if the objective is to deliver a resolution to the issue within the duration of the call.
Operators for answering services attend to calls that last for 1 to 2 minutes on average.
In contrast, call center representatives may require over 5 minutes of call duration. This can extend to 15 minutes or even beyond. The length of a call relies on the level of complexity of the issues being raised. Agents should ideally stay in the call until they manage to successfully offer a resolution.
Call re-routing is more common for an answering company. Client concerns are not resolved first-hand by the recipient. Instead, the client call is transferred to the correct person of contact who can better respond to the issue being brought up.
As an example, the answering service center of an events management business will take the call from a customer and forward it to the events specialist who can more expansively take on and discuss events-related queries.
On the contrary, support specialists for a call center answering service can themselves immediately answer questions. They are also expected to fix issues during the call. Moreover, contact center agents are capable of taking requests, too. Whether it’s a client request or they think it’s most fitting, they can refer and re-route the call to another point person.
Types of Answering Services
There are three main types of answering service centers.
Live Answering Services
These services are provided by actual real answering service professionals. They take and handle calls, or redirect clients to the appropriate team, department, or particular personnel when deemed necessary.
Secretaries and desk assistants, real estate brokerage associates, and bank operators are some examples of answering services staff. They work in an actual, physical office.
Virtual Receptionist Services
As the name suggests, these services are provided by virtual receptionists or virtual assistants who are able to tackle an assortment of tasks and queries from callers—spanning from supplying company information, receiving messages and passing on these messages as requested by the client, or re-routing the call to another contact.
In essence, they are the virtual equivalent of live answering service representatives. They perform similar duties and undertake the same responsibilities, while they’re not necessarily working on-site or in-office. Virtual professionals including virtual real estate assistants and virtual customer service representatives are not particularly bound by location, enabling them to operate from practically anywhere.
Automated Messaging Services
In lieu of a real person who’s either working in a physical answering service center or working virtually, these are the pre-recorded voice prompts you’ll hear when you dial a company’s trunk line.
These recorded messages give you instructions on which buttons on your phone to press next, according to your concerns.
Benefits of an Answering Service Center
Implementing a customer service answering service can let you experience these outstanding benefits for you and your business.
Save a great deal on overhead expenses.
Customer service answering service is a cost-effective solution, especially when you’re in the initial or the critical growth phase of your business. It’s also practical and efficient for when your company is trying to free up resources or to boost its bottom line.
No More Missed Calls
You can opt for an answering service center that caters to clients on a round-the-clock basis for seamless customer assistance and consistent communication with them.
Zero number of unanswered calls is greatly valuable in several occasions such as when you have a client base of international customers whose time zones differ, or if the nature of your business involves appointment booking or events registration.
You’ll never have to skip incoming calls again when you have answering and call-forwarding services at your disposal even past regular office hours.
Better management of a higher volume of calls is within reach and more possible than ever.
Keep your organization consistently expanding and your revenues adding through improved handling and quality of client calls. This entails enhanced productivity, staying on track, and keeping up with customer demands.
Types of Call Center Services
Tech Support Services
Tech support specialists assist in fixing IT-related systems.
Widely knowledgeable in technical solutions—both hardware and software, they are the operators who configure network issues and walk you through actions for troubleshooting or steps for installations when your internet or cable is acting up.
Getting to the main cause of errors or problems, they instantaneously look into the most feasible, easy-to-follow solutions and give accurate consumer feedback in a timely manner.
In case the issue is hardware-related and needs technicians to better inspect and diagnose problems on devices, tech support operators arrange to send over professional tech experts to do testing and perform the repair.
They also do follow-ups with consumers to make sure that issues are entirely resolved, and prepare procedural documentation in situations where replacement of hardware is needed.
Assessment of new technologies and assisting in the rollout of new ones are within their scope of responsibilities, too.
Multilingual Support Services
Call center agencies have numerous teams that specialize in different things. Some of them are agents targeted to take calls and serve non-English speaking clients.
Multilingual support positions your business to attract and reach markets overseas so you can exhibit brand relevance to a wider cross-section of clientele. Also, it allows for a swift and well-timed response despite the use of a foreign language, and hence, it improves the efficiency as well as the overall customer journey.
When you have teams dedicated to addressing issues in your client’s native language, you’re establishing stronger rapport with them, displaying proof of how you value and want them in your business.
Order Shipment Tracking and Logistics
The rise of online marketplaces has also increased the demand for client support in terms of end-to-end value chain and tracking visibility.
This is when and where call center staff acts as a go-between.
Customer service representatives handling the movement aspects of a business operation are well-informed in each fulfilment process. They have access to tools and platforms which enable them to gain clarity about parcel pickup and delivery information to relay to purchasers asking for status updates.
Call center logistics personnel are capable of identifying hurdles and delays for couriers, presenting prospective solutions, and eventually forecasting possible scenarios that may occur. This allows for a seamless client experience and even takes the edge off any apprehension the seller or buyer may be feeling.
Advantages of Call Center Answering Service
Using call center services is like extending your team or organization. It can have a powerful influence over your company’s productivity and cost-saving initiatives.
Here are some of the foremost benefits your business can gain from the services a call center provides.
A business establishment must not only focus on product quality and marketing efforts, but it must also be customer-focused.
While all these factors are equally important and relevant to guaranteeing business success, employing contact center services can immensely help with consumer-centricity and in the process, ensure client satisfaction throughout their entire journey of transacting with your brand.
Client care support agents make sure that your customer base is well looked after. Agents are readily available to respond to queries on product specifications or orders processing. They also keep a record of client feedback. Your business can use this as a yardstick for gauging consumer pulse, allowing for you to understand more vividly your clients’ wants, needs, and expectations.
Higher Volume of Calls Accommodated
As you continue to expand your business, there will be higher consumer demand. You can expect more calls involving requests, information-gathering, or possible hiccups. Thus, the more you need to have a call center to work hand in hand with.
Similar to an answering service, working with a call center allows for taking higher number of quality calls and more concerns resolved, if not entirely eliminating the incidents of unattended calls. You can also opt for 24 hours and seven days per week operations of your call center services. Accessibility to client support at all times strengthens your customer relations, overcoming miscommunications and breaking through varying global time zones.
The more satisfied customers your brand is able to reach and cater to, the higher and faster your sales go.
After client satisfaction based on product quality plus excellent post-sales experience follow higher retention rate, more repeat purchasers, and quicker acquisition of new customers. You can even win back any lost clients.
With your focus set on strategies and processes for expansion, and exceptional call center services by your side, this leads to increased revenue and more opportunities for business growth.
Which is the Better Choice for Your Business: Answering Services vs Call Center Services?
Knowing the differences between answering services vs call center services as well as diving more deeply into their share of advantages may get you closer to deciding on which services to employ, if you haven’t yet.
There’s no one size fits all approach to making a choice. A service may work for one business model and not for another.
Ultimately, the better choice will depend on your business needs and capacities. Pick the service type that will assist your organization on the long-term, helping facilitate growth, scaling, and expansion.