How to Choose an Answering Service for your Small Business

By Telelink

How to Choose an Answering Service for your Small Business

Choosing an answering service provider for a small business is a critical decision. Your customers are your most valuable asset as a business, and you’re about to trust another entity with all those crucial relationships. Talk about a leap of faith. This article is intended to make that leap feel more like a pivot. When you choose the right answering service for your small business, you’re simply adding an extension of your brand. 

Where are your customer service representatives located?

The first question you should ask is where are your agents or operators located? For Canadian small businesses, the answer you're looking for is right here in Canada. Callers will pick up on the accent and dialect of your customer service representatives. To create a cohesive customer experience, align the dialect and accent of your customer service representatives to the relative location of your organization.

The goal is to create an experience with your answering service that is indistinguishable from calling your actual company.

Canadian-based agents are likely to speak English as a first language and are known for speaking clearly, professionally and of course, being polite.

Check for hidden fees

Answering services don’t all price the same. And they are not all transparent. Some answering services charge a per-call rate, others a per-minute rate, and some a flat monthly rate. The important thing to look out for is hidden fees that make an initial base rate look appealing, but then give you sticker shock on your first invoice. Here are some common fees that are often hidden beyond the sticker price.

  • Technology fee
  • Compliance fee
  • Statutory holiday fee
  • Dump account for training

A "dump account" is used for training new hires or uptraining agents. This allows agents to train and become experts with your script without actually having to charge a usage fee to you, the customer. Answering services that do not use dump accounts pass the burden of training costs onto the customer which can amount to hundreds of additional dollars per month for high-volume accounts. 

Not too big, not too small

Big enough to have all the resources for great service, small enough to still feel personable and customizable.

Working with a massive, big box call centre likely means that you won’t get the personalized attention that you would receive at a smaller operation. On the flip side, if you partner with a small mom n pop shop you might miss out on some of the modern value-added services of an established centre with an up-to-date tech stack.

Can you work directly in my CRM?

Team up with an answering service that is skilled enough to work directly in your CRM platform. This will cut down on administrative duties for your own team and enable your team to act on customer information quicker. The reduction in admin work for your staff will give them more time to tend to customer needs and act on the information provided, rather than enter the information itself.

Are you 24/7 365?

Becoming open and available to customers 24/7 is often the reason small business owners or operations managers hire an answering service in the first place. However, many virtual reception services operate during business hours only, so be sure to verify that the service you choose is in fact open 24/7, 365.

You’ll also want to verify that there isn’t an extra charge for evenings and weekends, as some companies will hide this in the fine print.

Let's hear it first

Last, but certainly not least important, ask to hear the level of service you’ll be receiving. Just like taking a car for a test drive before you buy it, call the answering service you’re evaluating to hear how the agents sound and speak before you hand over your business communication.  

About Telelink Answering Service

Telelink has been answering calls for small businesses across Canada for over 55 years. We’d love to be there for your customers too. Check out our pricing and packages here or talk to our team by emailing

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