Please find below a list of common questions potential users of an answering service typically ask. We hope these questions and answers will resolve most of the questions you may have regarding the use of an answering service. If you have further questions or are not sure how something is going to work, please feel free to contact our toll-free sales line at 1-800-645-2616 to speak with one of our account specialists.
How quickly can I start using your services?
Depending on your requirements and availability to provide set-up instructions, set-up typically takes anywhere from 1 – 3 business days. We can provide expedited setup. Expedited setup might cost additional fees but not always.
How do I forward my phone lines? Can you forward my phone lines for me?
There are several options that phone carriers provide for you to forward your calls to AnswerFirst. The most common is the manual call forwarding feature. Manual call forwarding requires you to select the line you want to forward and dial an access code followed by the number to which you wish to forward. Some phone companies offer Busy No Answer. Busy No Answer forwarding allows your line to ring to us if it is tied up or if it is not answered by a predetermined number of rings. Remote call forwarding allows you to forward your calls from anywhere.
Some clients use their advanced phone systems to forward their calls. Some phone systems have degradation in call quality when this format of call forwarding is used so it is a good idea to test this option before implementing.
How will calls for my business reach the AnswerFirst call center?
We provide all account holders with a unique forwarding phone number. You forward your calls to that number and when the number rings at our contact center, the agent answers in your company name and follows your account instructions.
How will I get my messages?
We deliver messages via fax, email, text messaging (SMS), alpha pager, digital pager, verbally over the phone and via the web. Select any of these options in any combination. For example, we can send a text message to your cell phone, and then you can later retrieve or review that same message on the web, and then via a summary email the next morning. Also, based on your account setup, you can have different dispatch protocols for different types of messages (i.e. emergencies sent via text message and then called to confirm receipt but all routine calls held for the next morning).
Is there a limit to how many people can receive messages?
There is no limit or additional cost for message delivery to multiple people.
Can I track or view my minutes online?
Yes. 24/7/365 in real-time.
Can I listen to calls online?
Yes. 24/7/365 in real-time.
How often can I make changes to my script?
You can make unlimited changes to your script at any time.
Can I change my on-call schedule at the last minute?
Yes. Your on-call schedule can be changed at any time 24/7/365.
Can I get messages when traveling overseas?
Yes. You can access your messages 24/7/365 via our secure client web access portal.
Why do I need an answering service when I already have an office assistant?
AnswerFirst is a full-service 24/7 contact center; we are always available. We don’t take vacations, sick days or maternity leave and we are more affordable than the cost of having a full-time employee. Why miss an important call just because you or your assistant are tied up working on another task or talking on the other line? In today’s business environment, immediate customer service has become not only best practice, but the standard.
How can I be sure that smart, friendly people will answer my calls?
Providing excellent quality starts with selecting the right agents and offering more than competitive pay through incentives. All of our agents have prior experience in customer service and must go through our rigorous training program to insure that they are familiar with our system and our clients’ accounts before they are allowed to work. Also, they are reviewed, rewarded and given guidance based on their performances each day.
How quickly do you answer my calls?
90% of all calls into our facility are answered on an average of two rings or less. 8% are answered on the third, fourth or fifth ring and only 2% land in our hold queue informing the caller that an agent will be with them momentarily. One of things that separates us from other services is that we do not bill you for any time that a call is in our hold queue.
How do your agents know what questions I want asked and what information I require from my callers?
Every account is custom built based on your specifications, script requirements (if any) and dispatch protocols. You can adjust your account questions and dispatch protocols any time 24/7 by calling or emailing our support team.
How do your agents process orders for my company?
We typically use our web interface to connect to your online order processing system.
Should I let you know if I forward my phone for some reason during business hours?
We answer when you forward, and any instructions can be given at that time if desired should they differ from the normal protocols you have in place.
What is the most popular service you provide?
What are your rates?
Rates vary based on usage. Our numbers indicate that most of our live agent, basic messaging accounts cost the client an average of $5 – $10 per day, which is a small price to pay for 24/7/365 coverage.
How much do your services cost for a small to medium-sized business?
It depends on how much call volume your business generates. The average medium-sized business spends under $10 per day with AnswerFirst.
What am I billed for?
Line items on your bill will include:
- Base Rate
- Operator Time
- Automated Time (if any)
There are no surprises. You will not find any hidden fees on your invoice.
The main item will be Operator Time. Operator Time includes talk time, wrap time (occurs when we are finalizing a message once the call is disconnected) and dispatch. Operator Time is billed in one second increments.
Automated Time applies to call patching, voice mail, and front-end voice greeting. These are optional services that can be added to your account.
There is also a one time set-up fee. The standard fee for set-up is about $50 per hour; most accounts are set-up in one hour.
You can view your invoices, review your call volume and listen to your call recordings for quality control via our secure online customer portal (Client Web Access) at your convenience 24/7/365.
Do I have to sign a contract for your telephone answering services?
No. We just ask for 28 days notice to cancel your account.
Is privacy important to you will my and my client’s information be protected?
Yes, our answering service takes privacy very seriously. All employees sign a confidentiality agreement which remains in effect indefinitely. Our call center utilizes the highest data encryption and firewall technologies to insure the integrity and security of our network. We are HIPPA compliant, employing the highest standard of customer data and information protection. Clients can rest assured that information is safe and secure.
How reliable are your systems?
Our IT staff takes extraordinary means to insure our call center stays operational. Our telephone answering service was designed and built to function both during and after a category 5 hurricane. On premise we maintain our own power plant and utilize redundant telephony, including multiple circuits from different providers. Software and hardware are protected by the use of redundant servers, switches and routers, including both physical and virtual machines.The other area of concern is employee reliability and attendance. To combat this, our center uses a mix of both in-house and remote virtual receptionists, insuring we always have agents with access to our systems. In short, our systems and center are very reliable, however we also understand the need to communicate should something happen. In the event of an emergency we are able to quickly notify clients via e-mail or fax through the use of our robust automated communications platform. In addition we encourage our clients to follow us on Twitter and Facebook as important updates also may be found there.
How can I pay?
We currently offer two payment methods, credit card billing and standard invoicing (pay by check). In the near future e-check / ACH type services will also be offered. Please inquire, if interested.
How do I sign up?
To sign up online, please click here to go to our online sign-up form.
To sign up using printed forms please ask your sales representative to forward a copy.
Looking for more information?
Contact us today at 1-800-645-2616 or fill out our online request for more information and we’ll send you our pricing and info packet today!