People think of a telephone answering service as a way to get their phone answered and messages taken. An answering service does that, but it does so much more, too. One such area is increased efficiency. Yes, an answering service can boost productivity. Here are some common ways. Better Focus Produces Faster Results: For most companies, the person who answers the phone also does other things. Alternately people tasked with other jobs must also answer the phone. This results in a divided focus. They may be answering the phone or taking a message, but their mind is on other things. They only partially engage with the caller. They are more apt to make mistakes, lose messages, or delay relaying them to the right person. The staff at answering services does one thing. They process phone calls. Their single-minded focus on your communication needs yields results that are more accurate and does so faster. Professional Training Reduces Miscommunication: An answering service spends several weeks training their staff in phone etiquette, customer service skills, and advanced communication techniques. This far exceeds what happens at most organizations, which might give employees five minutes of phone training, and most of that covers which buttons to push. When your answering service handles your calls using their telephone and customer service skills, errors are less likely and accuracy is improved. These serve to reduce the chance of miscommunication, which increases efficiency. Standard Processes Provide Consistency: Answering services use a standard protocol or SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, for handling phone calls. They have a basic protocol for all calls and all clients, with specific, detailed versions for each account. This means that each of your calls is answered the same way, every time. Every message contains the same pieces of information from your callers. These items of consistency are a boon to efficiency. Consistent processes produce effective outcomes. Advanced Technology Automates Post-Call Support: While the personal touch of real people handling your calls is your answering service’s essential quality, advanced technology supports their work. Your answering service staff enters callers’ messages into their computer database. Then, with the touch of a button, that message can be automatically emailed to you. Or with another key, they can text you. There’s no rekeying information from one system to another and no paper directories to consult for number lookup. With this preprogramed automation on the back end, callers’ information speeds its way to the right person in the way they want it. Sophisticated Software Streamlines Everything: Answering services have a lot of technology in place to support the work of their staff. This includes message databases with more lookup and tracking capabilities then you can imagine. They can automatically generate custom reports for you. Answering services can access your computer system in your office through a secure connection for data-entry or information look up. And answering services have additional software modules for other functions, such as order taking, appointment scheduling, mass notifications, secure messaging, event registration, and even credit-card processing. This all adds up to less work for your staff to do, which increases their productivity and boosts efficiency. Yes, your answering service does so much more than just take messages. 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 DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.