What is a telephone answering service and why should you use one?

What is a telephone answering service?

At Your Business Voice one of the main things we do is provide telephone answering services.

However, for people who aren’t using an answering service already, there can be some confusion about what that actually means.

That’s why today we’re looking at telephone answering services and how they can help your business.

Let’s get started.

What is telephone answering?

We’ll jump in with the easiest question of them all – what is a telephone answering service?

Basically, a telephone answering service is a company that answers calls on behalf of other businesses.

It’s a bit like having your own call centre, but instead of having to employ hundreds of staff, you just pay the answering service for the time they spend answering your calls.

This makes a telephone answering service ideal for small and medium sized businesses.

How does telephone answering work?

Given all the technical stuff that goes on behind the scenes in a call centre you might be worried a call answering service is too complicated.

While there can be a lot to do from a technical standpoint, we take care of all that. For you it couldn’t be simpler.

All you have to do is divert your calls.

How you do this can change depending on your provider, but it basically involves typing in a code into your handset.

You can find out more about diverting phone calls with different providers here.

Once the divert is set up your calls will go through to the telephone answering service.

The call will ring on one of the phones in their contact centre, where it will be answered by an operator. The operator answers in your business name so it’s just like having a receptionist in house.

With a basic telephone answering service they will take a name number and message and let the caller know someone will get back to them. The message is then passed on by email or SMS so you can reply when you’re ready.

However, there are other options than just message taking and we’re going to look at those next.

What options are available?

As we’ve already covered, when it comes to telephone answering the most basic option is a message taking service.

In a lot of situations it’s all you need and it will do a great job.

Sometimes though businesses need more than just basic message taking.

Fortunately, there are call answering services that work for them too.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the other services that are available.

Virtual Receptionists – A virtual receptionist service is another of the more straight forward services. It works a lot like a message taking service, but as well as taking a message they can transfer the calls.

Customer Service Outsourcing – This is one step up from message taking. The operator will answer the call and run through a full script of questions, making them a fully outsourced customer service line. They can even go as far as to update your CRM system with information.

Order Taking – The clue’s in the name with this one. If you’re selling a product online or via a catalogue an order taking line will answer your calls and take the order and payment details so all you have to do is ship out the product.

Appointment Booking – This one is also sometimes called diary management. It basically allows potential clients to phone up the answering service and book a slot to speak to someone. It works great for companies like estate agents or private medical companies who take lots of meetings with clients.

Remote Switchboard – This is exactly like the old-fashioned switchboards from a big company, but the virtual version. If you’re a bigger firm with lots of remote workers or departments, a remote switchboard will take the call, work out where it needs to go in the business, and route the call through to the right person.

Overflow & Out of hours – Maybe you’ve got the phone lines covered the majority of the time, but you just need help when you can’t get to the phone. That’s where overflow and out of hours comes in. This is purely support as and when you need it.

Who should consider a telephone answering service


Every business stands to benefit when they use a telephone answering service, even if it’s just as back up for when you can’t get to the phone.

Because you only pay for the amount of calls answered, you can use an answering service as much or as little as you like.

That means whether you need all your calls answered or just one or two calls a week there’s an option for you.

We have clients in a range of industries from retail to medical to professional services so there really is a practical application in every sector.

If you want to know more visit our telephone answering service page.

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