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Terms Associated with Answering Bureaus
Many businesses, large and small, employ answering services. Answering bureaus will pick up calls when the office is empty or its occupants are otherwise busy. Hiring an answering bureau is a simple task and its duties are easy to understand. However, there are some specialized terms involved in telephone answering services.
Automatic Call Distributor – This automated equipment sorts through incoming calls and delivers them to a waiting agent in a call center.
Application Service Provider – An ASP offers software online to interested parties. It is the ASP that is responsible for updating and maintaining the software.
Call Forwarding – Call forwarding allows a telephone call to be transferred to a different number. This service can be offered based on things like busy signals and ring times. Small businesses may choose to have calls forwarded to an answering bureau.
Digital Switch – Telephones run on digital signals, and digital switches direct those signals to the appropriate place.
Interactive Voice Response – IVR systems pick up on voice commands or touch tone signals to gather information. For instance, this automated software may request Spanish speakers to press two or say two in order to speak with a bilingual representative.
Outsource Call Center – This title, as well as titles like answering bureau or telephone service company, refers to any third party company that is paid to take another business’s calls. Taking messages or forwarding emergency calls may also be offered by these companies.
Patching – To connect two, or more, calls to the appropriate person or persons. This is usually applied with conference calls.
Voice Over Internet Protocol – VoIP is using an Internet connection and a computer to make telephone calls.
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Lawyers, auto attendants, medical doctors, and other professionals cannot answer calls from their clients 24 hours a day. Therefore, these businesses often hire answering bureaus with reliable messaging services. Answering bureau centers can offer a variety of live and virtual services, so it is important for professionals to consider what options they need before hiring one of these businesses.
One of the primary reasons for hiring a call center is to ensure your clients and patients have a way to contact you after hours without actually giving them your home phone number. This allows you to receive important messages without compromising your privacy. When choosing a business to take your phone calls, you should find our if they have live persons stationed at 24-hour centers who can forward messages, faxes, and emails to you on a private line. Some of the answering bureaus will have voicemail options that are useful, but you should also look for live operators who can judge the severity of important calls.
You should also ask answering companies which types of remote contacting services they offer. Many professionals find that they want after hours operators who can forward messages to both home and office contacts. This typically includes sending emails and faxes as well as forwarding voicemails.
Before hiring a business to monitor your messages and answer after hours phone calls, consider whether they give you the option to create customized inbound and outbound voicemail messages. This allows you to identify your business, regular hours of operation, and other important information to anyone who calls outside of your receptionist's working hours.