How To Choose an Inbound Call Center Solution

Answering Service Customer Service Tools for Small Business virtual receptionist
Sep 25, 2020 / 4 min read

Congratulations! The day is here when you’re getting so many calls that it’s interrupting your day-to-day life or that your staff simply can’t handle them all. Or maybe you’re reaching that point.

While this doesn’t feel like an exciting thing, it’s actually a great problem to have. It means that your business has grown to the point where you need help managing all of the incoming calls. And at this point, many growing businesses choose to turn to an inbound call center solution.

Finding an inbound call center solution, however, can be difficult. There are plenty of choices out there, and it’s difficult to know which one is right for your specific business model and your needs.

In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know when choosing an inbound call center solution, including how to choose one and how you can benefit.

What Is An Inbound Call Center Solution? 

Inbound call center solutions are also sometimes referred to as “answering services” or “virtual receptionists.” They’re staffed with expert customer service representatives who will take any calls you’re unable to take, acting as an extension of your business.

They’ll use your business’s standard welcome greeting, answer basic customer questions, and can direct the caller to the right individual. High-quality inbound call center solutions like PATLive can also take messages, collect lead information, process sales and orders, register users for events or software, and more. 

Who Can Benefit From an Inbound Call Center 

Many businesses can benefit from an inbound call center, even if the business itself is relatively small.

Here are a few examples of how call centers can be so beneficial to businesses:

  • A doctor’s office uses an inbound call center to schedule or cancel appointments so that the in-office team members are able to focus on patient needs like ordering prescriptions or offering triage advice.
  • A roofing business uses a call center during hurricane season so that they’re able to greet all incoming callers, answer basic questions, and collect lead information. This prevents users from getting a voicemail and instead choosing a competitor.
  • A cleaning service works with inbound call centers to offer basic pricing information and schedule appointments for new customers, while existing customers and vendors are patched through to in-office staff for any of their needs. This reduces their overall call volume so they can handle crucial calls themselves.  

Keep in mind that inbound call center solutions are much more cost-effective than hiring in-office receptionists, and that many are available around the clock, 24/7 365 days a year. No call goes unanswered.

How to Choose an Inbound Call Center Solution

Interested in testing out an inbound call center solution for your business? Now you just need to find the right one.

There are multiple factors that you should consider when it comes to choosing an answering service, so let’s take a look at how to narrow down your criteria to find what you need. 

1. Consider the Services That You Need 

Some inbound call centers are only able to answer calls and patch them through to your business. This typically isn’t what you want, because it doesn’t do much to mitigate an overwhelming call volume; it just delays the calls by a few seconds.

Plenty of services offer additional features and abilities. PATLive, for example, offers the following:

Think about what you need before you start looking for a service. Maybe you don’t need payment processing, but you absolutely need appointment scheduling. You’ll want to ensure you choose a service that offers this.  

2. Look for Quality & Reliability 

Unfortunately, not all call centers are created equal. It’s not uncommon to find low-cost answering services that keep their costs down by working with customer service agents from out of the country who aren’t native speakers.

The following are signs of quality and reliability that you want to look for:

  • Native speakers of your chosen language only
  • Ideal services offer bilingual or multilingual functionality if you have a diverse audience
  • Advanced training within the call center for trained agents
  • High selectivity with the agents that each service hires
  • Advanced call scripting technology that allows you to fully customize how the call center helps your business and your customers
  • Quick answer time guarantees (we can answer in three rings or less if needed) 
  • 24/7 availability every day of the year, including holidays!

3. Find Flexible Services that Scale Up & Down With Your Business 

Some services lock you into a set contract. You pay x amount for y number of calls for a year. Take it or leave it.

You typically want to avoid call center solutions that take this approach. It doesn’t account for your business scaling… up or down.

That roofing company we mentioned early on, for example, will always have customers calling, but in states on the East coast, the call volume typically increases dramatically during hurricane season. They’ll need the ability to increase and decrease the call volume they need throughout the year without being locked into a contract that ultimately results in them overpaying.

Look for a service that allows you to only pay for live talk time with no contracts commitments required. This way, the service can scale up with your business as you grow but it won’t break the bank (or cost more than is even temporarily profitable) during your slow seasons. 

4.  Choose a Service That Fits Your Budget 

After you’ve narrowed down the list, eliminate any services that don’t align with your immediate budget. Make sure that the plan you choose incorporates the number of minutes that you think you need right now (and always plan for a little over just in case), and that the features you need are included.

Choosing an inbound call center solution is a big decision, so you want to get it right. Even though you can change it later, it’s easier to find the right service upfront so you don’t need to get set up with multiple solutions down the line.

Account for both your immediate and projected needs when you’re looking for an inbound call center, and always read reviews and testimonials from their existing customers. This will help you really get a solid idea of if they can reliably help businesses like yours.

Keep in mind, too, that many of the best services offer free trials, most lasting about two weeks. This gives you time to test out a service and make sure it’s the right fit for you.

Ready to get started with an inbound call center solution for your business? Start your free trial with PATLive to see how we can help you here