Everyone is familiar with the aphorism, “you get what you pay for” and it is the perfect place to start when looking at an HVAC telephone answering services. An answering service’s rates can directly impact the quality of call handling for your clients.

Lowest rates and highest quality? It’s Simply Impossible

An answering service cannot provide the highest quality phone answering service and offer the lowest rates. When you employ a service, you expect it to work as advertised and you want it to be reliable. First-time Telephone Service Representatives (TSRs) being paid a low rate of pay will almost always cost more in the end, although the measurement of that loss is difficult. How many callers were not handled properly and then did not become your client? And how many of your own past clients went elsewhere for the same reason? Hard to say. Therefore, what you should look for is the “quality” piece of the equation, before the price.

Processing incoming answering service calls is tough work

People calling an answering service must be handled with compassion and empathy by the TSR. Answering calls for an HVAC is demanding work requiring people with a rare combination of brains, finesse, tenacity, mastery of the English language as well as an engaging and resilient personality. The TSR must understand the subtleties of the industry. The interaction with the caller must be professional and accurate with zero-defects. In addition, the TSR must perform accurate decision-making under pressure and, of course, deliver the information quickly and correctly.

Your HVAC answering service should employ good people, pay them well and then keep them long-term.

A phone answering service which charges a low price for their services cannot possibly pay employees much more than minimum wage. In any business, minimum wage employees equals less qualified people and, because of that, chronic staff turnover. High quality simply can’t happen when the TSRs who take the calls and deliver the messages don’t stay in the position long-term. It all has to do with staffing, training and quality. And, an answering service that charges rates much lower than industry leaders probably doesn’t have enough TSRs available to answer your calls promptly. That means your callers can expect a long hold-time before their call is handled.

Independent Quality Control and Customer Service Departments

You will find that inexpensive answering services do not offer great customer service. As you look for a service, try to find one with a designated independent Customer Service department focusing on answering questions from clients, handling the rare problem that might arise, and routinely contacting clients to update their account information. Also ask if there is a separate and independent Quality Control department ensuring that TSRs are doing the best job they can for clients and their callers. At Centratel, each week our HVAC TSRs meet with the Quality Control department to review sampled messages, one-on- one. The review is tough, thorough and complex, in turn, keeping our TSRs performing their jobs at the highest level of quality possible. As with the rest of Centratel’s operation, key commonalities of these two departments are independence, documentation and point-of-sale responsive (in which any issue is handled NOW).

The telephone answering service you use reflects directly upon you. As an HVAC business owner you and your staff provide your clients with great customer service, and your answering service should do the same. Choosing a high quality answering service will ensure that your callers receive the same professionalism and empathy that you provide. At the same time, you will have peace of mind that your instructions are being followed by trained TSRs and your messages will be delivered quickly and with zero defect accuracy.

Bottom line?

What is the unanticipated consequence of the above? Your bottom line goes up and your personal frustration level – and the frustration levels of your staff – go down.

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