Updated August 1, 2014
Note: There are two functions that a telephone answering service performs for its clients: either “call capture” or “call screening.” Sometimes, the two functions are combined. In general, a call screening account is best served with Gold Service while a call capture account will typically not use Gold Service. The dialog below assumes that the reader is familiar with relay acronyms.
Medical and Veterinary
Call Screening. Most, but not all accounts have Gold Service. With these accounts, most traffic that reaches agents are emergency (E) calls. The best relay is Email to C# or A/P, with 15 or 30MCB. Another option is to call the doctor’s residence; at some point in the evening, the relay sometimes switches from Email to cell phone (C#) or alpha pager (A/P), with 15MCB, to residence number. It is important that “gray area” calls be classified as E and be relayed according to the E definition.
Call Capture. Seldom will there be a situation where a funeral home will want to use Gold Service. Four out of five after-hours calls are routine but one out of five is a “death call” in which the funeral home director must be reached immediately. If there has been a death, the caller certainly doesn’t want to leave a message on a machine or in a voice mailbox and, at the risk of appearing callous, Funeral Home owners/directors stress that these “death calls” are the “bread and butter” calls of their businesses. The message templates tend to be longer than for other vertical market accounts. In these “E” (emergency) calls, Email to C# (cell number) or A/P (alpha page), with 15MCB (15 minute call back) is best but not always what the funeral home director desires as some don’t want a grieving person to have to wait. But, a second choice for the TSR is to tell the caller they will absolutely get an immediate call-back and then call the O/C (on-call) directly on either cell or R# (residence number) to deliver the message. The funeral home O/C then calls the caller back. Another option is to hold the caller on line, call the O/C, and then patch. Non-E messages are typically delivered via fax, voice mail or Email. It is important that “gray area” calls be classified as E and be relayed according to the E relay.
HVAC and Various “Service” Companies
Call Capture. These companies typically do not have Gold Service as they want each call immediately “captured” by a real person A caller with an emergency (E) situation prefers a live person to take their call, rather than to leave a message in a voice mailbox or answering machine. The best message relay is the same as Medical and Veterinary. Occasionally, O/C personnel have numeric pagers and are not equipped with either cell phones or alpha pagers. In these cases there are various options (one option is for our Telephone Service Representative to page with a voice mail number: The Telephone Service Representative leaves the message in a voice mailbox which, in turn auto-pages the O/C personnel). The O/C will then call the caller back directly. Note that there can only be one voice mailbox per account so if each O/C person has a pager, this won’t work. An alternative for multiple O/C personnel: Have a main and backup pager for those companies that want to use a “float” pager to be passed among various O/C people. This way, if the main pager is lost or left at the previous O/C’s home by mistake, the float pager can be readily used by the next O/C. As with any customer, avoid a relay in which the first step is a R# and the second is automated; It’s best to use the automated relay method first, then the R#. It is important that “gray area” calls be classified as E and be relayed according to the E definition. Maybe more than with any other type of business, with HVAC companies we are often faced with moving the client from numeric pager to Email to text messaging.
Call Screening: After-hours service is for screening more than anything – protecting the property management people from calls that should be handled during regular working hours. Gold Service is perfect for these companies but often the account will have VM system or an answering machine on their end which will refer callers to our 800 number (remember that in these cases, we must go with DID, not PRI (“One Number”)). Beyond this, see the above description for HVAC: E message delivery is similar. However, one difference is how E’s and non-E’s are defined. Property Management definitions of E usually include “fire, flood or accident” but many companies have other very specific definitions – be sure to list the specific criteria in the Gold Service recordings. The definition “if the caller says it’s an E” is not a useful criterion with property management companies because most renters will consider their situation to be an emergency. It is important the definition of E is defined carefully for the TSR and that the TSR abides carefully by the definition. Also, with the Gold Service option, do not revert (route) the call to a TSR: revert to VM instead. Before reverting to voice mail, repeat the greeting one additional time. Remember that with Gold Service we can offer additional options such as “press 2 for lockouts” and “press 3 for security.”
Sometimes Gold Service is appropriate but not often. These companies want our agent to pose as front office personnel, as if they were in the actual office of the client. Messages are often routine and are typically delivered via Email, voice mail or fax. The key is to not sound like an answering service.
Remember the term “friendly efficiency.” It’s important that move ahead quickly, but assuring the client we are not rushed. All callers like the process to be quick and accurate.