At one point in the not-too-distant past, telephone answering services were nothing more than a seemingly random person answering the phone after hours and taking down a message to relay to the business owner or service provider when normal business hours began again. The person answering the phone had little or no agency, ability, or knowledge to answer questions or resolve callers’ inquiries, and at times they were not connected with the person or business being called at all.

Fast forward to today, and telephone answering services have evolved greatly to keep up with both the needs and expectations of customers and the updated technology available to them. Here are the biggest ways that telephone answering services have evolved.

Access to Technology

Historically, the biggest hindrance to telephone answering services having the ability to be more proactive for customers was the lack of connectivity. Agents who worked for a third-party answering service either did not have or could not have access to the information and/or tools they needed to be able to help callers with their inquiries. But that is no longer the case. Call center software, customer relationship management (CRM) databases, scheduling software, sales platforms, and more are all cloud-based, meaning they can be utilized from anywhere and by anyone given access. That means answering service agents can log into any number of these apps during their shift, giving them access to business and customer information they can use to answer questions, as well as complete a wider range of services and tasks for callers.

Expansion of Services

In the past, agents for telephone answering services were capable of little more than answering calls, taking messages, and providing basic information like business hours or provider details. Now, in large part due to access to the technology mentioned above, telephone answering services have much more agency. They can do things like schedule appointments, process orders, and even provide basic customer support. Some telephone answering services even have agents who work exclusively with one or a few businesses as virtual receptionists, helping to create a more professional image for a small business by acting as a first point of contact for customers.

Multichannel Support

While there are many cases in which customers still prefer to talk to a live person over the phone, there are also numerous instances in which customers would rather email or live chat with a business to get answers to their questions. By nature of the existing technology, telephone answering services used to be exclusively what their name suggests: people who answered telephone calls. But in today’s more evolved contact center landscape, customers expect options when it comes to how they get in touch with a business, options that are available to answering service agents as well. Instead of only answering phone calls as they come in, answering service agents also have the capacity to respond to emails, live chats, or even social media posts and messages, meeting customers on their preferred plane of communication.

As telephone answering services continue to evolve, one thing remains constant: the platform they use must be simple, efficient and effective. CallShaper’s new flexible, powerful, cloud-based answering service platform perfectly fits the bill. For more information, contact us today.