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Should I use a Telephone Answering Service or employ a receptionist?

Well - it’s a big question! And an important decision, for any business.

We won’t beat around the bush. Here at AMP, we’re an (award-winning!) telephone answering service. We think it’s better for many companies, in many ways.

So yes, this article will be from our point of view. One of our core values at AMP is honesty & openness. We’re not pretending to be unbiased.

But if you read on, then we hope you’ll see where we’re coming from.

Employing your own receptionist might well be right for you. What many people don’t realise though, is that our telephone answering service can give you many of the same benefits – plus more besides – for (literally!) a fraction of the cost.

So! Here goes.

1. What are the main similarities, between using a Telephone Answering Service or employing our own receptionist?

As with your own receptionist, we’ll answer your calls with your chosen greeting.

We sound exactly like you. We’re not a call centre, but a team of switched-on, enthusiastic professionals. Your callers will never know it’s NOT your in-house team they’re talking to.

And when we start working together, we get to know the intricacies of your business – just like your own receptionist would. All of this information is recorded in our rather smart system, so we have it at our fingertips for every call.

We relay your messages to you fast & accurately, and can patch VIP calls right through to you.

The other bonus is that we’re massively sales trained (which is hard to find in a receptionist!). With every single one of your calls, we don’t just routinely answer it, but ask ourselves “what’s the best thing to do with this call?”. We never let a lead or sales opportunity slip through our fingers – all to help grow your business, too.

You know how a receptionist works – and we’ve written another blog recently, about exactly HOW telephone answering works. Click here to read it now.

2. Ok. So what are the main differences – the pros & cons of each?

Well…

PROS – Employing your own receptionist

- Your employed receptionist is there, in your office. They can answer the door for you. They’re someone to chat to, especially if you work alone (and might even make you coffee, if you’re nice to them!)

- Culture. It’s easier to start building your business culture, when you have in-house employees (assuming they’re the right ‘fit’ for you!)

- They can do other ad-hoc jobs – like typing, scheduling your appointments & managing your diary (although we do offer a full diary management service too!)

- You might feel more like you’re building your business. Hiring staff – particularly your first employee – is a huge step towards building a business for the future.

- You can keep a close eye on what they’re doing; listen in on their calls; and manage the quality of their work (although you can always mystery call your own business with us at any time, of course!)

CONS – Employing your own receptionist

- Cost is the biggie here (more on this in a minute!)

- Time. All employees – however brilliant – need training, supervising & managing. This is a bonus, of course, if you’re good at this and enjoy it!

But it’s easy to underestimate just HOW much of your time this takes. It’s only natural that without adequate management, people’s own agenda creeps in (whether that’s getting off the phone as fast as possible; wandering off on non-priority projects or knocking off early!).

- Consistency & continuity. All employees take lunch breaks, annual leave & get sick from time to time – leaving you without cover, sometimes at short notice. You never have to worry about this with our whole AMP team behind you, providing your back-office support.

- Systems, processes & resource. Not only do you have to kit your new receptionist out – with a computer, printer, all the software they need etc – but you also have to build the systems for them to work within. When you use a telephone answering service, you use our tried & tested systems. And you don’t need to buy any equipment at all!

- It might not work out. They might not be the right person for you – with all worry, stress & HR headaches this brings.

PROS – Using a Telephone Answering Service

- Again, cost is the BIG thing here (more on this in a minute!)

- You save a LOT of time. While it does take some time to get your call answering set up, it’s still quick & easy. It takes some time too to keep us updated with important stuff to tell your callers – special offers you have running, or when you’re going away. But you don’t have recruit; interview; train & supervise. It all takes SO much less of your time than managing staff in-house.

- Consistency & continuity. As we mentioned above, there’s never any break in your service. We don’t leave your phones unanswered for lunch, holidays or sick days. You get a completely professional, smooth service always. You never have worry your back-office support.

- Systems, processes & resource. When you use a telephone answering service, you use our tried & tested systems. We have all your crucial business information at our fingertips, to assist your callers. There’s no outlay or time on equipment, processes or anything else (like having to write your Staff Handbook!)

- Upselling, cross-selling & growing your business. Again, as mentioned above, we don’t just routinely answer your calls, but ask ourselves “what’s the best thing to do with this call?”. We never let a lead or sales opportunity slip through our fingers – all to help grow your business, too.

CONS – Using a Telephone Answering Service

- You don’t have staff. This might be a pro, depending on your viewpoint! But we’re not there in your office. We can’t be key holders, and we can’t make your coffee (although if you pop into our Cardiff HQ, the cappuccinos are on us!)

- You’re not sitting next to us. We go above & beyond to get to know your business (click here to see what our clients say!), so we can sound exactly like you. We work hard to get to know the intricacies of your business. But obviously it’s not quite the same relationship you build with someone you sit next to all day long.

- It doesn’t feel the same. If you WANT staff – and you enjoying managing people – or you want to be able to tell people you have staff, then it’s not quite the same relationship, when you work with us.

And now for the big pro of telephone answering – COST.

According to Payscale.com, the current average receptionist’s salary in the UK is £16,060.

On top of this, you then have:

- Employers NIC
- Pension contributions
- HR costs
- Payroll administration costs
- Recruitment & advertising costs
- All of the costs to get them set up – computer, printer, software & other hardware, a desk & chair, office supplies etc (and, of course, the fixed overhead of the office space)
- And your time cost, to train, supervise & manage them.

When you choose us as your telephone answering service, you have NONE of this overhead.

Here at AMP, telephone answering costs a fraction of employing your own receptionist:

- NO set-up fee

- Our basic package is £79 per month (+ VAT). This includes your first 35 calls & calls over this are charged at £1.99 per call.

- Our average clients spend £121 per month (+ VAT) with us

- An additional Voicemail service is £10 per month (+VAT). So if somebody does leave you a message, we’ll email it to you to listen on your phone or PC.

- And we can manage your diary too, at just £25 per month (+VAT). It’s a brilliantly cost-effective way to maximise your time.

There’s NO lengthy contract tying you in, either – we just work on a 30-day rolling basis. So if your business needs change, you can move on at any point.

We’ve written a full blog recently, about exactly how much telephone answering costs. Click here to read it now.

So! We do hope it’s been useful & given you an insight into which path might be best for your business.

If you’d like to try telephone answering – to see if it IS right for you – then you can take our 2-week Free Trial, to test it all out.

And if you’ve any questions at all, then just shout!

Until next time

Del

p.s To find out more about any aspect of telephone answering - or to try our 2-Week Free Trial, just click here; email me personally at delyth@answermyphone.biz or call our Cardiff HQ on 02920 695999. Speak soon!

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