By Peter L DeHaan, PhD
You are in the telephone answering service (TAS) industry. Notice the word telephone. Surely your TAS focuses on telephone communications, but do you process more than phone calls? Should you do more? What are the ramifications if you do? What are the risks if you don’t? As communication continues to move to embrace other forms besides the telephone, should your answering service move to adapt?
These are questions to ponder. I leave them for you to contemplate, but you should contemplate them. Consider these options:
Email: It was about two decades ago when I began receiving more emails than phone calls. I suspect nowadays most everyone does. Email can easily overwhelm. Many entrepreneurs and busy executives have a virtual assistant or have tasked an employee to screen their emails, delete the span, reply to easy ones, and forward the critical ones.
This sounds like what we do with phone calls. Now let’s apply this skill set to email. Perhaps you already have.
Chat: Many people, especially the younger crowd, love chat services. They’ll send text messages all day long but will avoid making a phone call. If they have a customer service question, they’ll pick chat every time they can. As the population ages, more and more people will gravitate toward chat.
Answering services already have the needed customer service skills to handle chat. Maybe you’ve already taken the plunge.
Social Media: The most recent communication opportunity is in social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. For those on a social media platform, who isn’t overwhelmed with the deluge of communication.
For individuals this isn’t a big problem, but for businesses it is. Answering services can handle this problem, too. Possibly, you already offer this critical service.
If you take on these service opportunities, you theoretically move from a telephone answering service to a communications facilitator. While I don’t think our industry will rechristen itself as the communications facilitator industry, that could be a more apt description than telephone answering service.
Therefore, we will likely remain as telephone answering services even if communications facilitation is a better description of what we do.
Regardless of what you end up doing or what you call yourself, the key is to serve your clients well. That, after all, is what we’ve been doing since our inception.