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What is an Answering Service? Information for Small & Local Businesses

A woman on the phone talking to a customer.

What is an Answering Service?

Regardless of the type of business you have, be it local, small, or a bigger company, hiring a phone answering service can greatly improve your level of customer support and help your business become better equipped to respond to all customer calls.

Answering service companies are those that answer calls on behalf of their clients. Answering services often have models similar to virtual receptionist services. Their activities would include call handling, call forwarding, scheduling appointments, answering general FAQs (through direction provided by the client), and more.

There are often three types of standard answering services: 


  • Automated answering service: These use interactive voice response through the form of robots. They provide lists of self-service options customers can use to find a solution before choosing to connect to a service agent as a last resort. For example, an automated answering service may instruct callers to dial 1 for hours and location, 2 for pricing, and so on.
  • Live answering service: This refers to dedicated individuals who address customer queries for remote clients. Customers would be talking to a real person, separate from the company’s own live agents. 
  • Call center: Call centers are hubs of trained customer service professionals specializing in sales, marketing, and other customer-facing roles. Call centers are often used to screen calls that are coming in at a high call volume. 

In this article, we will cover how employing a telephone answering service for your local or small business can help enhance the overall customer experience and even positively impact your bottom line! 


Signpost can help your business answer all inbound calls and customer inquiries through our new live receptionist answering service. Never miss a call again with Signpost.


Benefits of an Answering Service and Live Receptionist 

Whether you’re operating as a plumber, roofer, or even an HVAC contractor, you can stand to benefit from using a call answering service. Here’s how. 


24/7 customer support, even when you’re off the clock 

Most localized business service providers do not work 24/7, but during set hours of the day. Customers would be hard-pressed to find a local electrician or general contractor that is available around the clock. While you may not make a house call in the middle of the night or on weekends, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide excellent customer support.


Answering services work across time zones and grant your customers the opportunity to connect through phone calls whenever they wish. This is an excellent and timely way to meet all your customers’ needs. 


Improve customer satisfaction and retention

Did you know that businesses lose up to $75 billion a year due to poor customer service? 


Naturally, by being available around the clock, customer satisfaction and retention is bound to improve. This is just one way of ensuring your business doesn’t become a part of that grisly statistic. With an effective answering service, your business no longer has to risk upsetting customers who need help or their questions answered. Similarly, your business no longer has to risk losing customers that couldn’t get in touch with you. 


Answering service receptionists are specifically trained to provide answers and cater to your customers in real-time, any time. The best answering service would not simply cater to callers’ requests but also work proactively to improve the customer journey. They can achieve this by asking for feedback, following up on voicemails, and more.


More time to focus on other high-priority aspects 

Partnering with an answering service is a great way to free up your team’s time and bandwidth. As a local business, you may already be running a limited team of personnel, and it can be difficult to find dedicated staff to handle the phone lines and spend all their time answering questions—especially on nights and weekends. With an answering service, your business can redirect its focus to high-priority, value-add activities like marketing, completing more jobs, or developing a referral program!


No more missed calls or appointments

Simply put, a missed call can translate to a missed business opportunity. In fact, a single missed call could cost your business up to $60,000 a year


It can be easy to lose track of customer appointments, forget to return a prospect’s missed call, or answer more than one call at the same time. These are all potential revenue streams that are being cut significantly short because of a missed call. With this in perspective, it’s far more valuable to partner with an answering service provider. 


Improved business reputation

A small or local business putting in the effort to create a better customer support experience will be more valued by its customer base. Today, customers have higher and increasingly dynamic expectations on the kind of support services businesses provide. But one thing is definite: Customers expect businesses to be reachable. As a local business, you can solidify your reputation as the business that’s always there for customers. 



6 Signs Your Small or Local Business Needs an Answering Service

Still unsure about whether or not an answering service could be beneficial for your local business? If you experience any of the below signs, it may be time to partner with an answering service!


  1. I’m spending more time on the phone than with clients: Are you managing your time inefficiently and unable to cater more to your customers due to an influx of customer calls? If yes, it’s time to seek support!


  2. Customer service reps are frustrated because they can’t answer all of our calls: If your customer service team is understaffed, they will be overwhelmed by all the calls coming their way. This could lead to poor handling of customer concerns, which is the last thing your business wants on the record.


  3. My business misses a ton of calls due to our business hours: Are you unable to address customer calls that come in at odd hours? Using an answering service can help you stay available around the clock.


  4. My business has missed opportunities to help clients with emergencies: You may get impromptu requests from customers needing urgent help (e.g., a massive plumbing-related leak or flooding in the house). Imagine losing out on a lucrative customer opportunity simply because of poor call handling.


  5. It’s hard to track how many incoming calls we get each day: Answering services can track and provide data more efficiently on incoming calls than your internal team. This can help refine your overall support service.


  6. Our customer satisfaction is suffering: Providing the proper customer support at the right time plays an integral role in acing the customer experience. Providing better phone support can help boost your customer reviews and overall ratings. 


  7. My business is seeking growth: Increasing the strength of your multi-channel customer support, be it through phone calls, text messages, or even live chat, can help accelerate your business growth. If you are seeking to expand and scale your business reach, you need to be more accessible to your customers, and an answering service is one way to do just that!


Signpost can help your business answer all inbound calls and customer inquiries through our new live receptionist answering service. Never miss a call again with Signpost.


Around-the-Clock Customer Service with Signpost’s Live Receptionist


Ready to nail your customer support and make every call count? 


If yes, it’s time to partner with Signpost and use our live receptionist services!


Enhance your customer service today with around-the-clock support through a professional answering service like ours. 


Get started now! 

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