You are probably saying to yourself “I thought Answering Services have been a thing of the past for ten years!”. You might be surprised. I have worked with countless business phone systems for organizations that are still, even today, reliant on subscription-based outsourced answering services. Admittedly, the far majority of these are in the medical (or dental, or veterinary, etc.) community, as they naturally have a greater need to ensure that every single call from a patient gets answered appropriately.
As telephone systems, and more specifically voicemail systems, have evolved over the years, businesses have had the opportunity to migrate their after-hours answering responsibilities from the recurring cost of a service that has live humans answering all calls to automated attendants which not only eliminate the need to pay a service on a regular basis, but also will route calls to their intended destination. For industries that do not typically receive emergency level phone calls during non-business hours, this was an easy switch to make…basically a no-brainer. However, for those in the medical industry, or any others for which emergency calls can be received during off hours, there continues to be trepidation that an automated attendant simply cannot replicate the level of service provided by a human being answering a phone call.
We are finding now, though, that because of further advancements in the technology of current voicemail systems, they have the ability to effectively replicate the duties that a live answering service can provide, even in emergency situations. Granite Communications has many clients which have implemented this level of use for their voicemail systems. Using the options available in today’s voicemails, there are medical facilities (and property management companies, and plumbers, and oil/heating companies, etc.) which can simply direct callers to a designated emergency mailbox, which can then immediately notify – by home phone, cell phone, beeper, even e-mail – an on-call Doctor, or technician, or serviceman. This allows the on-call professional to quickly respond to emergency requests from their patients/customers.
Of course there are still operations out there with the philosophy that the only way to properly handle these type of calls is with a live answer 24/7…but as the technology has advanced, so too have the options available to companies in this situation.