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EasyIVR Tech Library

Telephone Answering Services

acd system and auto call distribution system route calls This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to answering service systems and phone answering services. At Database Systems Corp. (DSC), we offer complete inbound call center and outbound automated phone services. Our inbound call center processes phone calls using our interactive voice response (IVR) system that answers calls without an operator.

Organizations looking to reduce costs and to improve customer service can now contract their inbound 800 answering service and outbound voice messaging programs at our automated call center facility. As designers of call answering systems and phone answering service software, DSC is uniquely positioned to manage your call answering service and 800 number service campaigns saving your organization both time and money. Because our phone answering service software was created in-house, we can deliver comprehensive 800 number outsourcing quickly -- providing you with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. From external database access to web integration including XML messaging, DSC can provide very custom phone applications. Plus you will find our 800 phone service to be quite affordable.

Work-From-Home: Answering Service Businesses

10 Easy Steps to Organizing Your Business

1. Obtain the proper equipment for your business. Make sure the phones or headsets are easy to use. If you use a table and chair, make sure the seat is comfortable and easy to sit in. Obtain a message “rack” with slots to place your clients’ messages so that when they call in you will have them handy to read. Install a time clock so that you can punch in the time when the message was taken. Both the message rack and time clock should be within arms-length so you do not have to leave your chair—and the phones! Discount office supply stores can provide these items inexpensively.

2. Make it easy to record basic message information. You can buy message slips from your discount office supply store or you can use scraps of paper that you cut up for use. Whatever the vehicle, make sure there is room to write down the customer’s name, phone number and any message. You should also leave space for the date/time and to whom the message will be addressed. Have plenty of pens handy! Do not run out of ink. 

3. Have an organized system for your messages. Once written, the message should be filed in the message rack to read later to your client. Once you have passed the message along, mark “SENT” on the slip and then file it in a folder marked with your client’s name. Save the messages for at least a month (or longer, if the client requests). 

4. Use index cards or create a database to record basic customer information about each of your business clients. This information should be kept handy and given to customers if necessary. Knowing all about your clients’ businesses will make you more effective on the phone. 

5. Price your services competitively, keeping in mind your own monthly expenses. Add your expenses up on an annual basis like the basic monthly phone charges, equipment, office supplies and divide the total by 12 to determine a monthly overhead cost. Obviously, the revenue you generate must exceed this amount each month to make a profit. The average rates you can charge for your services can range from $30 to $50 per month, the specific price related to the basic monthly phone charges you must pay in your area. Determine a base number of calls that you can accept under your standard rate (50, 75, 100). For any calls you receive over that in a given month, bill your client on a per call basis (.25, .50, .75). You can contact competitors and find out what they charge to determine what your price range should be if you are not sure of the rates you want to set.

6. Contract for your services formally. Put together a standard contract for both you and your client to sign. You could choose to use a standard contract form or engage an attorney for this task. The contract should have a minimum length to it, like 6 or 12 months, with options to renew it at expiration. You need to plan on a certain amount of business and income and you cannot do that without a minimum service contract.

7. Select a business name that is descriptive but not limiting. If you are not incorporating, you can use your name in the company title if it is simple and easily pronounce­able, such as “Marge Dean’s Telephone Services” or, better yet, “Marge Dean’s Telemarketing Services”, which encompasses more tasks in a potential client’s mind. If your name is difficult to say, consider using the town name, as in “Dallas Tele­marketing Services”. Since that may already be taken, you can also go generic as in “Diversified Telemarketing Services” or “Associated Answering Services”. Keep it simple and adaptable. 

8. Select the type of business you want to be. Incorporation carries the most prestige but it is not always the most practical choice for a very small business. You can always start as a sole proprietor and work your way up as the business expands. A sole proprietor is the simplest form of business structure, although you are personally liable for all business debts. A partnership will be necessary if you have someone else sharing the profits and expenses of the business with you. An accountant and/or an attorney can illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of each entity and help you determine what course to take.

9. Obtain enough supplies to launch your business. Be well–equipped with the basics: pencils, pens, note paper, index cards, paper clips, rubber bands, staplers. These supplies should be purchased in quantity as higher volume purchases allows you to save. Plus, it reduces the risk of possible work stoppage due to inadequate supplies. Do not forget a ledger notebook to record revenue and ex­penses. Also, include a calendar to note important dates. Order business stationery and envelopes along with business cards. Remember, you are trying to create a positive, professional image. If you wish, hire a graphic artist to design a logo for your business. This should appear on the card, letterhead and envelope. Order blank paper of the same color as your letterhead to write letters or memos longer than one page. Shop around for a print company. There are often “specials” that printers run to attract business, usually on items like business cards and stationery. Your initial order will be more costly because of set–up charges to put your information on plates to print. Once done, however, it is inexpensive to order reprints when your supplies dwindle. 

10. If your business outgrows your house, shop around for a good location. Don’t consider moving out of your “home” office unless you’ve redone your expense calculation, divided it by 12 and see that your new monthly expenses can be eclipsed by your revenues. If you decide to find an office, consider sharing a space with other professionals, where business needs like a photocopier, fax, receptionist, etc. can be shared among the occupants. You will still have your own private office, but it will save dollars to combine other resources. Shop for office furniture to get the best price possible. Check the newspaper for notices about bankruptcy auctions and Sheriff’s sales where you can often obtain nearly new, higher quality equipment for little money. You will need a desk, table, filing cabinet, chairs, typewriter or computer, calculator, book/utility shelves and a wastebasket to get started.