How to Prove You Provide Quality Answering Service

Most everyone talks about quality service, but too often they can’t back it up

Telephone answering services typically compete in one of two ways. One is by the quality of their service and the other is by price. Let’s set aside competing on price, because there will always be an answering service out there willing to charge less. Besides, competing on price is a race to the bottom, which no one can win for the long-term.

Quality is Key

Instead let’s focus on competing on quality. When it comes to providing quality service, there are no limits as to how far an answering service can go. When you compete on quality it’s a race to the top, the exact opposite of competing on price.

However, quality is subjective. Most answering services claim to offer quality communication, but most of the time such assertions come without proof. So, the question becomes, how can an answering service prove to prospects they provide quality service?

The best way to do this is to present verification from an independent third-party. The ATSI Award of Excellence and the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction programs are two ways an answering service or call center can provide verified, third-party validation that they do indeed offer quality service to their clients. Here’s how it works.

The Evaluation Process

The concept of testing and evaluating answering service quality is simple. However, just because the procedure is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. This process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but the results are worth it.

Place Test Calls: The first step of the quality evaluation process is to place test calls. This requires a trained communicator who knows how to effectively pose as a prospective caller to contact an answering service’s clients. They pose as a mystery shopper over the telephone.

The first goal when placing evaluation calls is to be prepared and not let the person at the answering service who answers the phone know it’s a test. The second requirement is to know how to act to elicit the responses that are required to do a thorough evaluation. The third item is to avoid making the transaction too simple or unreasonably complex. Skill in placing test calls is essential to producing effective results.

Record Test Calls: In addition to meeting all the above objectives, the mystery shopper will also record the phone call. This is critical because the initial shopper is not the one who will evaluate the call. Someone else will. In fact, two other people will, maybe three.

The recordings are accumulated and saved for the next phase of the quality evaluation process. This step has the added benefit of creating a permanent record of the transaction for additional verification and subsequent follow-up by the answering service. This allows them to make additional quality improvements.

Score the Calls: The third step is to rate the calls. Again, this requires extensive training to ensure calls are consistently evaluated from one call to the next, and by one evaluator to the next. It takes practice and requires time to converge on this level of consistency, but it’s essential for the success of the program.

Two people will separately listen to and evaluate each recorded call against a 20-point quality checklist. These address the key issues that relate to answering service quality.

Compile the Results:Yet another person will take the quality valuations and compile a summary for each answering service being tested. The result is a numeric score that quantifiably indicates quality.

The Outcome

Some answering services, while good, may fall short of the quality threshold established by the testing agency. However, these answering services will still benefit, for they will now know the areas they fall short in. Then they can work to improve their quality and do better in next year’s evaluation. These answering services are to be commended for striving to improve the quality of their work.

Answering services that surpass the quality expectations of the testing agency are highly commended. They win official confirmation of providing quality service. They earn the ATSI Award of Excellence or the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction.

Telephone answering services that earn the ATSI Award of Excellence, as well as call centers that achieve the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction, are now armed with a valuable credential, the most valuable in the industry. They can verify to their prospects that they provide quality service. They can prove that they are among the best of the best.

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