The top questions you should be asking:
Do you charge per minute or per call?
Per call plans can be deceiving. Unless you expect every call to be long, hang ups and wrong numbers, you could rack up your bill pretty quickly. Majority of the time, per minute plans are the more reasonable pick, but don’t forget to ask if there are second increment limitations. For example, some may round calls up to the closest 6 or 30 second increment, rather than per 1 single second.
What is your billing cycle?
Beware of the 28 day billing cycles. You receive 13 invoices a year compared to a net 30 or monthly bill which is only 12 invoices.
Will I be locked into a contract?
Most providers go by monthly agreements but there are quite a few that will try to make you sign for multiple months at once or even a full year!
Are you in a one call environment?
Some providers may say they’ll answer your calls on the first ring every time, but then they place your caller on hold until they can get around to it. A one call environment means you answer the phone and stay on the call from beginning to end.
Will my calls be answered offshore?
If your callers are located in the U.S. then you’ll want to make sure they are answered by a U.S. service. You may even break it down to ask how many offices they have to see if your account could be serviced locally to your business.
What is included in your pricing plan?
Cheap isn’t always a good thing. Some providers have low cost plans, but then they tack on cost for your phone number, holidays, bilingual services, dialing out, patching, etc. Make sure that your base plan includes all of these or else you may have some surprise charges when you receive your invoice.
What is the quality of your services?
Ask your potential providers if they can provide you with testimonials, years they have been in the business, awards and recognition, and references specific to your industry or needs.
There is an endless amount of questions you could ask potentials providers, but these can truly make a difference in which provider you decide to trust with your customers and/or prospects. Most of your questions should revolve around your specific business needs.
Check out each provider’s services and features sections on their website to see what they can offer you.
If you already have an existing provider, did you think to ask these questions when you decided to partner with your service? If you are on the search for your first answering service and/or call center, do these questions provide you with some insight to find the right provider for your business? Please post your answers in a comment, along with any questions you may have or would like to add to the list.
By Sarah Jane Wilson