Call-centres and live answering services look very similar from the exterior, so it’s no surprise that some people outside the industry construe these services as the same. The key difference between a call-centre and live answering service is not about the physical appearance, but rather how the calls are managed.
How An Answering Service Can Vary
A live answering service is flexible. The agents function as an in-house receptionist, but they can also act as an after-hours assistant to ensure their clients never miss a call. The agents may also dispatch urgent calls for emergency maintenance requests, take bookings for clients or record a simple message. It handles calls for all business types and is more flexible than a call-centre.
A live answering service is renowned for enhancing customer satisfaction and bolstering a company’s customer service reputation. From a customer perspective, it can be frustrating when the company or individual you are trying to call never answers. With a live answering service, it guarantees that your clients always have a point of contact to speak to.
The Main Difference Is Scripting
The main difference between a live answering service and call-centre is scripting. An inbound live answering service has a powerful scripting tool. The script is tailored and designed to pop-up in front of the agent before the call is answered. Each script is different depending on the client. If a customer requires more than a simple message, then a live-answering service can offer script-branching. This is where the script provides different branches for each decision point during an interaction between the caller and the agent.
In contrast, a call-centre uses a centralised system or website for all client interactions. Instead of a script popping, the agent will navigate their system based on the client’s needs. As the call-centre agents specialise in one specific company, their knowledge allows them to assist callers with most enquiries. In addition, a call centre is likely to use a CRM for call management, whereas a live answering service would likely rely on a script pop, which if needed can be integrated to a client’s CRM. In turn, the key difference between a call-centre and live answering service is the scripting tools employed by the respective organisations.
Difference in Sizes
Call-centres have a large team to facilitate the delivery of one product. A prime example is the Arline industry. Large providers often have a dedicated centre to support their customers. Cell-centre agents may help clients purchase tickets over the phone, obtain a credit or refund for cancelled flights or re-schedule flights for clients. These dedicated agents only work for one company and assist in the delivery of their product. In contrast, an answering service has a smaller team which delivers several products for an array of companies. For example, a live answering service may assist clients from the trade sector, health industry, IT, retail, sole-traders, government industry and more. Call-centres and live answering services are different in size due to their varying business models.
In saying that, the call durations and hold times also vary significantly. The average call time for a live-answering service generally ranges between < 1 minute. This is because the call is often less complex compared to a call-centre. As calls can be handled more quickly, the hold times for live answering services is generally much smaller. Alternatively, call durations are often much longer in call-centres. These calls can range between 5 – 30 minutes or even up to an hour during busy periods.
Integration & Efficiency
A live answering service can easily integrate into any online application, including third party CRM’s, web applications, job systems and booking platforms. This seamless integration means that callers are unlikely to know they’re speaking to an answering service. Instead, the agent may appear has a receptionist at the company.
Additionally, the integration of a live answering service means that calls can be answered using a tailored script customised to the business. The call-centre agents record the details from the call and relay the message immediately. These messages can be delivered via any array of channels including SMS, e-mail, telephone call or your client portal. Live answering services often value flexibility – meaning that they can create a customised solution for most businesses.
In contrast, clients are likely to know when they have called a call-centre. Large call-centre providers often outsource their calls to another country. This is known as offshoring. Foreign accents and other linguistic barriers may indicate to the caller that they are interacting with a call-centre. However, the benefit of work from home infrastructure also allows both live answering and call-centre services to be delivered from anywhere in the world. WRH infrastructure has been improved in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing both business models to enhance their productivity and efficiencies.
TMC’s Point of Difference
TMC’s business model fits somewhere in between these two services. Our services range from basic live answering and message taking to dedicated support teams. We can assist with live answering, after-hours, overflow call handing and more. If a service requires extra supervision, TMC can provide a dedicated team member who directly manages delivery of your outsourced service. Our clients are also provided with an opportunity to outsource on a long term, short term or ad hoc basis.
TMC’s ability to deliver measurable business outcomes is backed by over 45 years of experience. We have a proven record of working with all types of businesses, from large organisations to sole traders. TMC has the best people and technology to ensure optimal delivery and performance at affordable prices.
Setting up a live answering is simple. You are provided with a local number to divert your phones to. We allow our clients to manually turn this on and off or automate the time of day they want their phone system to divert to the live answering service. If you are interested in discussing a solution for your business – Please fill out the website form or alternatively call 1300 728 268 to discuss your options.