Most people know that telephone answering services can take messages, but answering services also excel at giving out information. In either instance, the goal is the same: to delight callers, save you time, and minimize interruptions. As a starting point, think of what you include in an FAQ section on your website. This information is a great starting point for questions your answering service can handle. Yes, people can go online to look these things up, but some won’t and others don’t have access, for one reason or another. Instead they pick up the phone and call. Beyond FAQ type material, an answering service can provide detailed information to more involved questions. Sometimes these advanced queries involve an answering service accessing your computer network through a secure connection to look up answers. Consider these questions an answering service can answer. Standard Queries: Basic questions, such as those on your website’s FAQ section, include hours of operation, fax number, and street address. An expanded version of address information might include driving instructions, such as highway exit number, major cross streets, or nearby landmarks. Other information might be industry specific, such as a routing and transit number for a financial institution, tax-exempt status for a charity, or tax-ID number for a manufacturer. Be on the lookout for questions that repeatedly come in and then provide your answering service with the answers. Both you and your callers will benefit. Credit Card Charges: Sometimes people question charges on their credit card statement they don’t recognize. Make it easy for them to find the details or they will simply call their credit card company and dispute the charge, even if it’s legitimate. This is especially critical for non-reoccurring purchases and for businesses that tend to make one-time sales to customers. It’s also important if the legal business name that appears on the credit card statement differs from the dba (doing business as) name that appears on the invoice or website they ordered the product from. In any case, put your number on the charge line that appears on the statement and let your answering service field those calls. They can look up the charge and explain it to the caller, assuring them the transaction is legitimate and jogging the caller’s memory of the purchase. The result is happier customers and fewer disputed charges. Order Status: Even if you have an online order status option on your website, some people will still call. And if you don’t provide that feature, many people will phone you to find out when they can expect their orders. By giving your answering service secure, remote access to your order-processing system, they can look of the information and relay it to your customers, 24/7. Product Availability: Sometimes people will want to verify an item is in stock before driving to your store. Give your answering service password-protected access to your inventory system. Then they can look up the availability and pass on the information to callers. The result is fewer frustrated people in your store taking up the time of customer service staff or detracting from other shoppers’ experience. Answering services shine at giving information to your callers. They provide answers to callers fast. This allows you to serve customers better and help keep them happy. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry—and who helps businesses and organizations find the perfect answering service. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaanis a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.