What are the Different Types of Telephone Answering Service?

Vicki Watson

Several kinds of telephone answering services exist to assist professionals in all industries. Some services in this category include automated answering services, live services, Internet answering services and call centers. Some of these companies also may offer different telephone answering service packages geared toward specific businesses or professions, such as doctors, sales associates, and lawyers.

Answering services may take messages, redirect inquiries, and handle overflow calls.
Answering services may take messages, redirect inquiries, and handle overflow calls.

A live telephone answering service comes in several formats. For instance, some services are staffed by at-home workers to whom the client forwards calls when desiring coverage. In other cases, the live answering service employs a larger workforce in one location to provide phone coverage on phone banks. In either case, the client’s incoming telephone calls are answered in a fashion in which the caller may believe that he or she has reached the client’s office where a live person is employed as a receptionist.

Answering services may use headsets to answer calls.
Answering services may use headsets to answer calls.

A call center is a telephone answer service better suited to serve large businesses with a very high volume of incoming calls. Additionally, when twenty-four hour, 7-day per week coverage is required, a call center makes a more practical choice, as many smaller services do not offer this feature. Call centers employ larger staffs that work on shifts to provide around-the-clock coverage for clients. Some companies have call centers as part of their own organization, while others hire outside companies for this purpose.

Not all telephone answering services feature a live person answering calls. Some services are automated, utilizing either software applications or Internet technology. While not providing the benefit of giving callers the impression of a live staff member at the office, these services tend to be significantly less expensive than manned answering services. Additionally, as callers leave a recorded voice message, the possibility of errors in the communication diminishes greatly. Some of these services also send an instant e-mail or text message to the client informing him or her that a voice message has just been left, prompting the professional to check for messages as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Certain kinds of telephone answering service have specially trained personnel geared toward certain industries. For example, a doctor may require a telephone answering service that hires individuals with a certain level of knowledge of basic medical terminology. Other professions that might benefit from the use of a specialty phone service include attorneys and sales professionals.

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