A common question many answering services hear is,
How to Drastically Minimize Your Answering Service Bill Without Sacrificing Quality
It’s no secret that answering service costs can quickly accumulate, leaving many businesses grappling with how to trim these expenses while maintaining top-notch customer interactions. Cutting costs doesn’t mean compromising on quality, and this guide will delve into proven strategies to optimize your answering service contract, save on your bill, and keep your customer experience excellent.
Given the increase in costs that many businesses are currently undergoing, wondering how to reduce your answering service bill is an understandable concern.
But it may not be the right one. You have an answering service to better serve your customers, and if you cut corners with your answering service to save a few dollars, will you jeopardize a relationship with a customer in the process? To save $10 and lose a customer with a lifetime value of, say, $1000 in the process is a false economy.
Yet if you want to reduce your answering service bill without affecting quality, here are some tips to consider.
Cancel Options You No Longer Use
It’s common for the needs of a business to change over time. What’s less common is to remember to cancel options with your answering service. Make sure you’re not paying for an add-on feature that you’re no longer using or don’t need anymore.
Take a careful look at your last bill, and see if every line item is something you still need and use. If you have any questions, contact your answering service for clarification on how to reduce your answering service bill.
Make Sure You’re on the Right Rate Plan
Another thing that changes over time is the amount of work your answering service does for you. This may mean that you’re using them more than you once did, or that you’re using them less. Did you adjust your rate plan to match your change in usage? This is another area that’s commonly overlooked.
If your usage has dropped and you haven’t switched your rate plan, you could be paying for a higher base rate than what you need to. Moving to a less costly plan could save you money.
Conversely if your usage has jumped and you haven’t changed your rate plan accordingly, you could be paying much more for additional minutes. In this case, stepping up to the next higher plan could actually save you money.
Update Your Account Information
When you began using your answering service, you provided them with exacting details about your business, operation, and staff. This information has likely changed since then, but not everyone remembers to update their answering service. If your answering service is using outdated information about your company, it will take them longer to serve you, which will cost more money.
Taking the simple step to review and update your account information is often a smart way to reduce your answering service bill.
Simplify Your Procedures
Another change that occurs with the passage of time is procedures. Invariably they become more complex. Each time something doesn’t go as expected, another rule is inserted into the standard operating procedure you have your answering service follow.
And each added level of complexity increases the amount of work your answering service does for you and hence impacts your bill. This is especially true for businesses that have an on-call staff and on-call policies.
Review the procedures you’ve asked your answering service to follow and streamline them whenever possible. This should improve their overall level of service to your customers and reduce your answering service bill in the process.
Scrutinize When You Use Your Answering Service
Make sure your staff isn’t sending calls to your answering service when you don’t want them to. Your answering service will answer any calls you send their way, whether they expect them or not.
Each call adds to the amount of work they do for you and impacts your bill. So, check with your staff to make sure they aren’t forwarding calls that you want them to answer themselves.
Consider Extending Your Hours of Operation
For many answering service clients, a disproportional amount of usage occurs just before they open in the morning and just after they close in the evening.
Answering your phone 15 minutes earlier and 30 minutes later could divert several calls each day from your answering service to your own staff. As a result, your answering service will do less work for you and your bill will go down. This is a shrewd way to reduce your answering service bill.
Reevaluate and Eliminate Redundant Features
Over the lifespan of your business, you’ve likely added various features and add-ons to your answering service package. However, as your business evolves, these add-ons may no longer serve a functional purpose. Scrutinizing your bill for these dormant features and removing them can yield immediate savings.
Align Your Rate Plan with Current Needs
Rate plans are often tied to the volume of calls you receive. As your business grows or contracts, the volume of incoming calls will fluctuate. Conduct a quarterly review of your rate plan and adjust it according to your current requirements. This practice not only saves money but prevents you from paying for minutes you don’t use or incurring costly overage fees.
Keep Your Account Information Up to Date
Efficiency is directly related to how well the answering service understands your business. Outdated account information can lead to longer call times and increased costs. Regularly updating your account details ensures quicker, more accurate service. Do this semi-annually to ensure that the answering service has the most current information.
Streamline Your Standard Operating Procedures
Complexity in procedures often results in higher costs. Every new guideline or rule added to your standard operating procedure could potentially lengthen the time it takes to handle a call, inflating your bill. Simplifying these processes can drastically cut the time your answering service spends on each call, thus reducing your bill.
Train Your Staff to Optimize Call Forwarding
Your employees must understand when to forward calls to the answering service and when to handle them in-house. Unnecessary forwarding increases your bill without providing added value to your business or customers. Weekly or monthly team meetings can help educate your staff on when it’s most cost-effective to use the answering service.
Tweak Your Operational Hours
A surge in answering service usage often occurs in the minutes immediately before and after your regular business hours. By extending your operational hours slightly, you can handle more calls in-house, reducing the need for the answering service during these peak times. This small adjustment can make a significant difference in your monthly bill.
The Cost of Ignorance: Understand What You’re Paying For
Some answering services have hidden fees or charges that only surface when you take a closer look at your bill. Transparency is crucial. Request an itemized invoice to understand all the charges and question any unfamiliar or suspicious items.
Consider Seasonal Adjustments
If your business experiences predictable busy or slow seasons, consider switching to a more suitable rate plan during these times. Most answering services offer flexible plans that can be adjusted to accommodate your changing needs.
Negotiate with Your Service Provider
Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation. As a loyal customer, you may be eligible for discounts or special packages. Yearly contract reviews are a perfect opportunity to discuss your current plan, make necessary adjustments, and ask for special pricing or add-ons at no extra cost.
Your answering service does their best to serve you and your callers. They may be your most important customer service investment, so don’t slash their bill just to save a couple of dollars without considering the side effects. But if you do need to reduce your answering service bill, follow these steps to make it happen.
Contact us today to learn more about what an answering service does. And if you’re ready to start now, sign up online any time. If you’re an existing client and want to lower your bill, let us know how we can help.