5 Criteria to Find the Right Answering Service for Your Architecture or Design Firm


If you’re working hard on client projects and don’t have the time or resources to spend your day on the phone, you might be considering another alternative. Hiring a single receptionist or assistant is the natural first thought, but the costs of bringing an employee on can be astronomical for smaller firms. Not only that, but an in-house receptionist will only be able to handle the calls that come in during business hours. 

Today’s global, always-on economy calls for more accessibility and there are plenty of solutions out there to help you achieve that. One of the most valuable is the modern answering service. These companies don’t just generically answer calls and forward them to your office, either. There are full teams of agents and virtual receptionists that can take calls, make appointments, answer questions, and make sure that every single contact is engaged, no matter what time of day or day of the week it might be. 

While you’re busy drafting designs, working on client projects, or even out doing some onsite work for your latest design project, you can trust that every single call will still get answered professionally. You can’t delegate architects’ work. You need to be focused on projects and design planning, not on all the phone calls that come in during a single workday. 

If your firm is growing and you think you need more help with communications, outsourcing could still be the best option. And don’t worry—you’re not limited to low-budget call centers located overseas. Today, there are virtual receptionists and answering services throughout North America that can deliver everything that you need. 

Why use an answering service?

Even after considering the costs of hiring in-house staff versus outsourcing, some people might want to know more about why they should choose a professional answering service. Fortunately, as you’ll see below, many of the perks are the same as the criteria that you’ll use to find the best solutions:

  • 24/7 availability
  • Professionalism and experience
  • A variety of services and features
  • Customizable communications plans
  • More cost-effective 
  • Higher value for the money

In some cases, for what you might spend to hire, train, and keep an employee on the payroll, you can get a team of virtual receptionists that can field all your calls, and even handle admin tasks like appointment scheduling, new client intake, and more. To make sure that you maximize the benefits, here are five criteria that you should include in your search for the best answering service for your architecture or design firm. 

1. 24/7 availability 

The Internet has created an always-on, instant gratification world. Therefore, the businesses that see the most success are the ones that are available when their clients or customers need them. That could be for an emergency issue at 2 AM or even in your case, for a question or concern about the building design during their weekend relaxation. You don’t want to keep people waiting until those magical hours of 9 to 5 because they might use that time to find another business that does offer more convenient hours of service. 

2. Professionalism and experience 

In a professional industry like architecture and design, having professional agents answer the phone is essential. With an answering service, you’ll get that level of professionalism and expertise that comes from years of experience making and taking phone calls for a variety of intentions and needs. Make sure that you choose a call center with plenty of experience and feel free to do some test calls to ensure that you like the way that calls are handled. 

Some call centers and answering services aren’t cut out for the professional level of service that you need. They are usually higher volume operations, and they may not necessarily dedicate the kind of time and attention to clients that you would like. That’s why checking this is important before you choose a partner. 

3. Customization options

The ways that you can customize your answering service or the solutions that they provide should also be high on your list. You’ll want custom greetings, custom voicemail messaging, and probably even a customized plan that includes all the features and services that you want. Make sure that you choose a partner that can deliver on all these fronts so that you get the right solution. 

This is one of the biggest perks of outsourcing an answering service for design firms. While your team is busy with various design projects, you can ensure that your phone calls are answered professionally and your clients are none the wiser that you’re not the one actually fielding the calls. And when calls need your attention, we’ll make sure that they get to you based on the custom plan we setup. Why wouldn’t you want to take full advantage of that when you can? 

4. Features and add-ons available

Part of being able to create the perfect custom solution with an answering service is having access to all the different features and solutions that they offer. Your architecture or design firm might have an idea of what you want already, or you could just be exploring your options. In either case, make sure that you’re carefully looking at the features that are available and included with various plans or services. 

You’ll typically find things like:

  • Live answering and warm transfers
  • Call forwarding
  • Custom greetings
  • Custom voicemail greetings
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Lead screening/intake

Of course, these are just a few of the many available features, so be sure to get everything that you need. 

5. Pricing

Although you don’t want to focus solely on the cost of an answering service, you do have to budget for the investment. It’s still going to be a lot more affordable than building your own call center team or hiring administrative staff to be available for calls during and outside of business hours. And it’s less about the actual costs and more about working with an answering service that is transparent with pricing, fees, and costs.

For custom, 24/7 solutions, ask about a partnership with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai

The good news is that you’re already closer to a solution than you think. When you partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, you’ll get a 24/7 answering service that also delivers when it comes to lead intake, appointment scheduling, live website chat, and even assistance with your outreach campaigns, including incoming and outgoing calls. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to us at hello@smith.ai

Business Education
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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