Answering services have two common types of service offerings, shared or dedicated. In this article, we’ll look at how to decide which service model is best suited for your organization's needs.
A shared service is a division where customer service representatives are trained on multiple client accounts. The customer service representatives in this division are like a Swiss army knife, they are agile, able to change gears quickly, and can adapt on the fly.
A dedicated service division employs specialized customer service representatives who are trained to work on one single account. They are specialists and usually work on client accounts that are more technical and require an advanced level of knowledge in order to service them properly.
Which is right for me?
For most clients, shared answering is the best choice. It is a more cost-efficient option and with expertly crafted scripts and a proven customer service representative training process, your calls will be handled flawlessly.
In a scenario where you wish to have customer service representatives handle inquires of a complex nature, like tier-one tech support, a dedicated model may fit you better. In the dedicated model, metrics like average time to answer and abandon rate are more tightly controlled.
When is it worth bringing service in-house?
There is not an exact number that will tell you when it is time to bring your operations in house. It’s not an exact science as there are many factors that are hard to put a specific value on (think about your own stress and the time required to manage additional people, the infrastructure required and the call entre expertise).
The rule of thumb we use to help our customers make the decision is that when you have 6-7 dedicated customer service representatives at a call centre, you could break even on the raw cost by taking the process internally and having a mini call centre of your own.
Note of caution
If you decide to manage your customer service arrangement internally there are a few sacrifices that you will likely have to make.
- You will not have the infrastructure to deal with unexpected spikes in call traffic.
- You will not have the infrastructure to accommodate storms, power outages and other technical failures, whereas your call centre would likely have triple redundancy built-in to ensure you’re never down.
- People management. Managing an additional 6-7 people requires time and resources.
Consider a hybrid model
Many organizations use a hybrid model of employing a full-time receptionist who works at their front desk and outsources their evenings and weekends to a call centre. The outsourced work is typically done in the shared division of a call centre and allows the organization to capture every call, reducing the number of times potential customers go to your competitors.
This type of arrangement ensures that your customers are never left frustrated, and your full-time receptionist can have a sensible work-life balance.
A trend we noticed through the COVID-19 pandemic is that many of our customers who previously struck this balance of receptionist for Monday-Friday and call centre for evenings and weekends moved to call centre services for 24/7 service and never looked back.
Hybrid model #2
There is a second hybrid model that is becoming more popular as well. When organizations require sophisticated support and utilize the hybrid model but still see surges, spikes and unpredictable call volume, a combination of dedicated service and shared department service works beautifully.
For example, a company might have two dedicated agents to handle the Monday to Friday 9-5 regular calls but also utilize the shared department for overflow, surges, and overnight calls where a message would be taken rather than first call resolution.
This way, the company does not need to pay for dedicated support on a 24/7 basis, but also never misses a call and maintains its consistent and professional response.
Examples of shared vs dedicated answering service support
If you’d like to see some real-life examples of how each division operates, we encourage you to read our case studies for Bellstar Hotels and Resorts who are a dedicated division customer, and for Blair Mechanical, an HVAC company that is served in our shared division.
Each customer had specific challenges that Telelink helped them overcome with two different service offerings. We hope these real-life examples can help you find a call answering solution that suits your needs.
More about Telelink
Telelink provides live call-answering services to keep your business lines open 24/7, improve customer service, and ensure that you never miss an important call.
Located in Newfoundland, Canada, our award-winning response centre offers services such as virtual reception, message taking, help desk & technical support, and business process outsourcing.
For over 55 years, we have proudly served a diverse range of clients, including municipalities, construction companies, plumbers, electricians, utilities and property management firms.