The shrinking of the traditional answering service industry

26 Nov, 2014     admin

How New Alternatives are Changing the Game

In contrast to mobile phones, voice mail, voice over IP, and the Internet, the telephone answering industry have been shrinking starting back from the late 1970’s.

Service is Changing

Many of the functions that used to be handled by telephone answering operators are now done through mobile phones, text messaging, voicemail, and email. For the last 40 years, the traditional telephone answering service market has shrunk by over 90 percent and the number of US answering services has decreased from twenty thousand to around two thousand.

Now, there is a new threat for the few remaining traditional answering services left. It’s the specialized automated answering services. These companies are experts on certain business sectors in the US and develop automated solutions that outperform the normal operator service. A good example of this is the medical field. The companies that specialize in medical answering services have been able to create completely automated answering services for doctors and physicians, and the service is 100 percent customized for each medical office.
One reason why these new customized automated answering services are so successful is that the majority of traditional answer services have serious quality problems, so there are very few high quality traditional services to choose from.

Bad Reputation

The answering service industry has a well deserved bad reputation. It is very complex with an abundance of opportunities for mistakes, with technology rapidly changing both on the equipment and network side. At the same time, downward price pressure has forced answering services to hold off on investments and keep pay low, resulting in less skilled staff. This low skilled staff is still beneficial as they typically have great attitudes and make good judgments about which calls are emergencies or not. Not surprisingly, most answering services fall short in many of those areas. The only reason they don’t go out of business is that it’s next to impossible to find a really good service while staying within budget.

Compounding the frustration with how calls are handled, many answering services struggling with profitability come up with ‘creative’ ways to increase the monthly cost. This might be things like having separate charges for each notification, billing on 4 weeks instead of monthly cycle, or even forcing all callers to answer more questions than is really needed with the purpose of increasing the billable minutes. All this, of course, creates even more frustration among answering service clients.

What Companies are Saying

When we interviewed companies about why they have stayed with poorly performing answering service, the most common answer is that they have switched more than once, but even after lots of promises, none of the companies are as good as they promise to be so the customer just decided to stay with a mediocre provider.

Of course, there are a select few very good traditional answering services in the US. However, they use the latest technology plus highly skilled and well compensated staff. As a result, their rates are outside what most companies want to spend on the answering service function.

Finding the right answering service is not easy.

There are no countrywide rating lists and most of the companies never share the true statistics on how         many customers that cancel service, complain, etc. However, at No More Phone Tag, with our customized   and completely automated solutions for medical offices and property management companies, we are      confident that we deliver the best mix of state-of-the-art technology with “old fashioned” customer service.   We are glad to compare our numbers with any other company in the nation. Currently, 91.7% of the    medical practices that take our free trial stay on board and our yearly retention rate is 96.9%. In addition,    less than one in 200,000 calls result in any type of quality complaint.

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