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Which Features for Phone Answering Services Are Most Important — Checklist

It can be hard to differentiate between phone answering services, which is why we want to give you the PERFECT tool to find the best solution.
Olivia Maier

Olivia Maier

10 min read

What we’re going to be covering today

We want to get into everything that you need to know about phone answering systems. That means starting off with what a phone answering service even is, before going into a short and quick checklist that you can apply to look at any phone answering service that you may be considering.

We then are going to walk you through putting the checklist to work, as we analyze a few of the top providers including:

  1. Yodel.io
  2. Dialpad
  3. Aircall
  4. Ruby
  5. MapCommunications

We want to leave you feeling 100% prepared to find the best phone answering service for your team. If that sounds good to you, then we can’t wait to get started!

What is a phone answering service?

We want to start by making sure that we are all on the same page in terms of what a phone answering service is. In simple terms, it is a service or software that answers phone calls on behalf of another business.

These tools help businesses streamline their phone communication by automating the initial stages of a phone call. A phone answering service will take care of all the basics, such as greeting your caller, figuring out why they are calling, and routing the call to the appropriate person. Phone answering services can also take care of tasks such as taking messages.

While this may seem like a bunch of basic tasks, they can add up to a significant time burden for your team. Having a phone answering service can help you save time and effort as you streamline your phone communication.

The THREE major types of telephone answering services

And which type we think is the best for nearly all types of teams

There are three major types of telephone answering services, and we wanted to go into each of them so that you can determine which will be best for your team. Don’t worry if this seems a little bit overwhelming, we will be sure to give our two cents as well so you can hear from us which style we prefer.

The first type is a live telephone answering service. This is typically structured by your provider having a call center located on their own premise. That provider would train their employees on the best way to answer incoming calls specific to your business. Some providers will designate specific call center attendants to your business, while others will provide general information and scripts so that any available attendant can answer an incoming call for your business. These services can range from 9-5, a 24/7 service, and more. While these systems can be great, you aren’t able to have complete control over your phone communication.

The second type is an internally housed call center. If you are a large team, then you may want to have an internal call center, as you can train each employee to match exactly what you want from your phone communication. However, these systems can be quite expensive, and may not be a good fit unless you are a large enterprise based team.

The third and final type is the one that we like best. That is an automated intelligent answering system. This would come within a business phone system, and provide you with smart features such as intelligent voice based IVR. These systems would provide an automated voice with a customizable greeting message. You then could allow your callers to speak naturally as they state their reason for calling. With an intelligent system, you’d be able to effectively determine caller intent and automatically route your callers without having to deal with annoying menus that resort to “press 1 for sales… press 2 for support.” This is a system this is a great fit for all types of teams. You’re able to have complete control over the experience, without having to increase your team size to enable a full scale call center.

Explore more features

The most important features checklist

While we believe that an automated intelligent answering system will be the best fit for teams of sizes, regardless of your system of choice you should make sure that you have all of the following features. These five features should all be must haves, so make sure that you don’t settle for a system that doesn’t check all of these boxes.

24/7 capabilities:

Your phone answering system should be able to offer 24/7 answering capabilities. That way, even outside of business hours, your callers can be greeted appropriately and directed to voicemail. You should even look for features or capabilities that will remind your callers of your regular business hours, with a simple message before being directed to voicemail.

Welcome message and greeting:

With a phone answering service, you should make sure that you’re able to have a customizable welcome message that can match your business’ personality. This includes being able to customize your message, music, and routing options. That way you can effectively convey your business tone right from the start of your phone communication.

Effective Call Routing:

One of the most important functionalities of a phone answering service is having a plan to route callers after the phone has been answered. Many callers these days are sick of hearing “press 1 for sales, press 2 for billing” menu options. That’s why we recommend Voice based IVR, which will listen to your callers speak in live time, and route them appropriately. If you are going through an answering service that utilizes live agents, make sure that they are trained appropriately so you can make sure callers aren’t frustrated by misrouted and mishandled calls.

Smart integrations:

Look for a phone answering service that makes sense with the tools that your team is already using. That includes a phone system that can help your team build an intelligent business tool ecosystem. A phone answering service makes the most sense when it is paired with a business phone system. Look for an intelligent business phone system that allows for integrations into other business tools and software such as your CRM systems.

Multiple channels of communication:

You should be able to communicate with your customers through multiple channels, and your phone answering system should help enable that. One of the simplest ways to do so effectively is to take advantage of business text messaging. Look for SMS capabilities that can help you communicate with incoming callers.

How to put this checklist to work:

This checklist is a simple way to effectively search for a phone answering service. We wanted to give you a handful of service providers and see how many of the boxes these systems check.

Not to be bias… but let’s start with Yodel:

Yodel is proud to offer an intelligent cloud-based business phone system that comes equipped with phone answering capabilities. This system is set at an affordable price of between $25/user/month and $35/user/month. The following features and capabilities are available, and can help equip your team with an effective phone answering service.

  • The ability to set customizable greetings, and music or a message on hold
  • Intelligent voice based IVR
  • Office hours: When your callers call outside of your business hours, Yodel will direct them to helpful information about your operating hours before taking them to your voicemail.
  • Smart integrations: Whether your team lives in Slack, relies on your CRM system, or you are looking to streamline your workflow, Yodel will fit in seamlessly with your favorite business tools.
  • Canned responses: You are now able to handle incoming calls without even picking up the phone! Easily select from your list of pre-written customized canned responses, which will be read out to your callers as an audio message. The canned responses can be used to inform callers about average wait times, updates on your product, and more.
  • Yodel offers a plethora of integrations. These integrations range from helping your team keep track of everything within Slack, connect to your favorite CRM tool, and more. Whatever business tool your team is using, it is very likely that there is a way to connect it with Yodel.

Dialpad as a virtual receptionist

Dialpad is a cloud based system that offers auto attendant capabilities, which is included in their pricing for between $15/user/month and $25/user/month. Dialpad’s auto attendant is advertised with the following features:

  • Active during specified business hours (does not appear to be a 24/7 solution)
  • Call routing: It is not specified if this is through traditional or voice based IVR capabilities.
  • Custom messages: This functionality works similarly to canned responses, but it is not clear how they are able to be deployed and when.
  • Traditional IVR: this is the traditional “press 1… press 2” menu. They do not appear to offer voice based IVR capabilities, which may be an issue for some callers or businesses. We’d recommend a more advanced routing system, but this may be sufficient for some teams.
  • Dialpad has a range of pricing options, but be careful because their pricing drastically changes the smart integrations available. The base price plans will come with G Suite and Office 365 integrations. However, if you want to integrate into your CRM and other business apps, it looks like you will need to pay for one of their higher end options.

What about Aircall?

Aircall is a cloud-based phone system that will run your team between $30/user/month and $50/user/month. Aircall is able to offer a variety of features, some of which are able to provide a phone answering service for your team.

  • Customizable greetings, and music or a message on hold. As we’ve said, this is a great way to create a more personal experience, especially as you customize the message to fit your business personality.
  • Their IVR system does not appear to be fully conversational, and instead relies on multi-level IVR routing configurations to be most effective. This may be a bit tricky to set up, and doesn’t eliminate the annoyance of listing to long menu lists.
  • Business text messaging capabilities, which can help you connect with callers even when talking over the phone isn’t convenient.
  • Aircall allows for integrations with more than 80 CRM and business apps, as well as a lot of other smart features.

Ruby (aka Ruby Receptionists)

Ruby is a virtual receptionist service that offers live receptionists who work remotely.

Pricing is based on how many minutes the receptionist is active per month. For example, for 50 minutes per month, Ruby will cost your team $219/month.

Ruby offers 7 on hold music options, and will continue to answer calls after your set business hours. Ruby is operated on a mobile app, which will give your team access to usage alerts and voicemail transcriptions.

MapCommunications

MapCommunications is a 24/7/365 virtual receptionist service that uses live remote working receptionists. The pricing for a standard plan is $43 per month for on-demand use, which is billed at the cost of $1.27 per minute.

MapCommunications allows you to create a custom script for greetings, and has U.S. based bilingual teams available. However, you aren’t able to customize MapCommunications with custom hold music or messages.

In the End…

We hope that you can take advantage of our phone answering service advice as you search for your new phone system. We always recommend looking at cloud based systems as they are able to offer some of the most robust systems at some of the most accessible price ranges. The best system for your team will of course equip you with all the features you need, and it will do so at a price range that works well for your team.

With this article in hand, you will be able to easily search through long lists of providers to ensure that the phone answering tools your business needs will be within the provider you are looking at.

If you are looking to get started with a phone answering service today, then we want to encourage you to test out Yodel today! You can get started with a free trial, as well as receive personalized advice through one of our demo calls. Our team is always available to help you along your Yodel journey, as you discover all our amazing features.

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