5 Criteria to Find the Right Answering Service for Your Consulting Business


As a consultant, you already spend a fair amount of your time on the phone with clients, companies that hire you, and others who need your input and assistance. Unfortunately, you’re also not going to be able to answer every single call. 

However, as a consultant, you also understand the value of finding people to assist you with your needs. That’s basically your job—to assist people in various ways with your expertise. So, it would make sense that you’d want to outsource something like communications to a partner who specializes in the field. 

Enter the professional answering service. These companies have come a long way since the days of the standard phone answering services and now offer an array of features and solutions designed to help companies get more out of their admin and communications, even when they’re not hiring an in-house team or receptionist. 

Perhaps you’ve already got a receptionist for your consulting business, but that person is also inundated with calls, admin tasks, and other duties. An answering service could also be the solution to deliver that extra bit of support and ensure that none of the balls get dropped along the way. With that, of course, comes hiring the right people for the job. Here’s what to look for. 

1. Professional, positive agents

Professionalism is paramount when it comes to choosing the best answering service. You need to hire a team of receptionists or agents that have been trained and working in their environment for several years, with a trail of successful partnerships in their wake. Find out what kind of training the agents receive, how they’re taught to answer calls, and if they can customize script development for your consulting firm specifically. 

Sometimes, the best way to find out how the agents answer is to call as a customer yourself. If they’re up-front, transparent, and helpful, they’ll likely treat your callers the same way. Check reviews too—companies with bad marks for attitude or professionalism should be automatically removed from the list. 

2. 24/7 availability

You might not realize just how badly your business needs more availability for taking phone calls and screening leads. But then you implement 24/7 answering services and suddenly you see a huge influx of calls. Not everyone is available between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, and they shouldn’t have to be. We live in a world that’s always on, thanks to the Internet, and now thanks to professional answering services, you can join in, too. 

This includes holiday availability and weekend calling. You need an answering service that is ready to field calls 365 days a year. They should be familiar with the protocol of what to do with those after-hours calls based on what you need. They can handle simple appointments and inquiries but may need to forward calls to you for more detailed insight or discussions. In any case, having a live person answering the phone 24/7 is going to do worlds of good for your consulting business. And, it won’t take away your precious family or personal time. 

3. Features 

This is going to be a little different for everyone. Answering services come with a host of features and services, including overflow calling services, after-hours answering, lead intake, scheduling, and even assistance with outreach campaigns, sales support, and more. Some companies go as far as to offer payment collection services, rounding out their custom plans to give you a total solution for whatever you need. 

We can’t tell you which features you should specifically be looking for. Think about what you need most from this investment. Take the time to explore all their features and check out their FAQ page to learn more about how these features work and how well they do offering assistance to people along the way, too. Customization of features is important, too, but that’s another point we’ll get to shortly. 

4. Reputation 

What’s the company’s reputation like? This is where you’ll want to start looking at reviews and testimonials, including those from actual customers and third-party review sites. Choose companies that have an upstanding reputation in the industry and that work hard to provide you with the extension of your business that you need. 

Today’s answering services aren’t like those generic, overseas call centers that many people think of. These services offer live, North America-based agents who are ready to field calls on behalf of your business, whatever you may need. Take the time to find a company with a solid reputation. You’ll be grateful you did when you get stellar service. 

5. Flexible, customizable solutions 

This is as much a benefit as it is one of the most important criteria to look for in an answering service. The best companies offer tons of customized solutions, from customizable plans to totally bespoke communications and admin services to ensure that nothing is missed. Make sure that they’ll also scale with you when you grow so that you aren’t changing services every time you need more assistance. 

When you’re checking out the features and services that they offer, look at what you can add in an a la carte fashion, as well as how easy it is to change something in real-time. Feel free to check out a company’s FAQ page to get a feel for how they interact with and serve their existing customers, too. 

For total customization and winning communications solutions, partner with Smith.ai

At Smith.ai, our virtual receptionists have spent years developing the best communications solutions, from providing the 24/7 answering service that your consulting business needs to assisting with things like live website chat, lead screening and intake, and even appointment scheduling

And, as always, it comes with a customized plan to handle every last detail, no matter what you need. At Smith.ai, we’re committed to helping you get the most out of your communications and admin services. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to 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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