Market research telephone answering machine in nigeria
A MARKET RESEARCH ON HOW
MANY PEOPLE AND HOW MUCH
PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR A
TELEPHONE ANSWERING SERVICE
BETWEEN 8.00am – 6.00pm
(Mondays – Saturdays).
Written by: ODEH FRIDAY ODEH
AUGUST 11, 2010
Each day there are an unlimited number of phone calls that are placed.
Amazingly is the number of phone calls that go unanswered. Unanswered phone
calls can be costly, especially for those who are running a business.
Phone answering services are used all around the world. One of the reasons why
phone answering services are so popular is because they allow a business to
provide their customers with the utmost service during normal working hours.
One of the many goals of a business is to keep their customers happy; however,
that cannot happen around the clock. Due to holidays, business meetings, lunch
breaks, and vacations a business employee may not always be available to take
their calls. A phone answering service can be used when an employee will be
gone even for just a few minutes.
1.1 CALL MANAGEMENT is the process of designing and implementing
rules and parameters governing the routing of inbound telephone calls through
a network. These rules can specify how calls are distributed according to the
time and/or date of the call as well as the location of the caller.
A call centre (customer interaction centre) is a centralised office used for the
purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone.
A call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support
or information inquiries from consumers. Most major businesses use call
centres to interact with their customers. Examples include receptionist,
complaints centre, help desks, retail financial support, sales support, and
customer support for services.
Through contact centres, valuable information about company are routed to
appropriate people, contacts to be tracked and data to be gathered. It is generally
a part of company’s customer relationship management (CRM).
Types of call centre calls are often divided into outbound and inbound. Inbound
calls are calls that are made by the consumer to obtain information, report a
malfunction, or ask for help. These calls are substantially different from
outbound calls, where agents place calls to potential customers mostly with
intentions of selling or service to the individual. In providing answering service
to customers, inbound calls are considered to satisfy customers request and
In call management, staff are organised into a multi-tier support system for a
more efficient handling of calls. The first tier in such a model consists of
operators, who direct inquiries to the appropriate department and provide
general directory information. If a caller requires more assistance, the call is
forwarded to the second tier, where most issues can be resolved. In some cases,
there may be three or more tiers of support staff. If a caller requires more
assistance, the caller is forwarded to the third tier of support; typically the third
tier of support is formed by product engineers/developers or highly skilled
technical support staff of the product. In between the multi-tier support system,
we will consider a call answering service.
1.2 TELEPHONE ANSWERING SERVICE
Telephone answering service is a service that businesses, professional offices,
and private individuals contract to answer their telephones when they are
unavailable. In the past, a telephone answering service would answer your
phones, take messages, and dispatch calls. Today, services can do much more
including scheduling appointments and processing orders.
When you employ a full-time office assistant or receptionist in business, you
realize that your office needs someone to answer the telephone lines. However,
considering the payroll costs, benefits and paperwork required for employing
additional employees, employing new employees may not be affordable for
your business, and may not be worth the time and energy. When you choose to
hire an answering service, there are no benefits or payroll taxes to pay. With a
reliable and professional answering service your calls will be answered
promptly and professionally. You will receive accurately recorded messages,
which can be relayed to you however you wish: via phone, voicemail, e-mail,
and PDA depending on the answering service technology. You and your current
employees can stay focused on whatever else you should or want to be doing
besides covering calls.
1.2.1 A live answering service will connect a customer with an actual
representative instead of a recording if they call after hours, at a time when
you're away from the office, or if all of the lines in the office are already busy,
depending upon how you set up your service. These live representatives can
give patients as much or as little information as you tell them to whenever a
patient is speaking with them. For example, if you decide to go away for a short
time on vacation the representative can let your patient know that you'll be away
and for how long. This way, your patient doesn't keep calling and getting the
same recording over and over. Even if the recording contains all of the
information that the patient may need, it can still be frustrating to not get to talk
to the individual one on one. It can be much easier to take in information when
you have an actual person relaying it to you, and they can explain what it means
if the patient doesn't quite understand.
1.2.2 An automated answering service is a recording which will pick up
during set hours of the day, when all lines are busy, or when nobody is available
in the office. These can range from a simple recording which relays information
you've chosen and links to a voicemail system at the end, or an interactive voice
response (IVR) technology. Interactive voice response technology will allow the
caller to make selections from a menu by using their keypad. These can give
callers access to far more options than they would get if they were connected to
a basic automated answering service. This can help save your organization both
time and money. This service can be classified by:
Virtual Personal Assistant - is a robust and flexible application. It is set-up to
handle calls that are not answered within 15 seconds approximately. These
automated answering services allow the caller to obtain a series of information
based on responses to prompts. This application gives a full suite of unified
communication tools that adapt to your work e.g. True call handling by status
modes, voicemail, fax, call forwarding, music on hold, e.t.c. It's like having
your own personal assistant.
RE-Direct - : forward calls. As soon as someone calls your number they will
immediately be forwarded to the phone number(s) you have programmed your
service to call. The caller will hear nothing but ringing before they are
transparently forwarded to you. If you don't answer the call, your caller will be
put into your voicemail or answering machine on your end.
This service is preferably used in medical services, telecommunication call
centres, an organisations’ complaint centre, receptionist, e.t.c.
Due to holidays, business meetings, lunch breaks, and vacations a business
employee may not always be Available. This is why phone Answering
Services are needed. In a way, phone Answering Services make up for an
employee that is unable to answer the phone. A phone Answering Service can
be used when an employee will be gone even for just a few minutes.
2.0 FACTORS THAT AFFECT TELEPHONE ANSWERING
The experience a customer gets and the results a company achieves on a given
call are almost totally dependent on the quality of the agent answering that call.
Call centres are beginning to address this by using agent-assisted voice
solutions to standardise the process all agents use.
In order to improve performance, call centres are either using scientific
technologies to do the job or personality and skill based approaches. Many
business owners turn to answering services when their workload becomes too
much to handle. An answering service could prevent you and your other
employees from becoming overworked. Businesses who do not receive
important phone calls put themselves at risk for losing profits using a telephone
2.1 ADVANTAGES OF TELEPHONE ANSWERING SERVICE
a. No need to employ additional people to man telephones, this is especially
important if you are running a small or large business that runs working hours
for customer service availability. This can result in massive savings as salaries
and benefits are not necessary.
b. No more missed calls or lost clients; losing potential clients can be a hard
blow especially for small businesses.
c. Urgent calls are handled until you are able to deal with them from a company
level. Also, calls can be screened calls during holidays. For independent
contractors, messages may be taken only from those clients you want to.
2.2 DISADVANTAGES OF TELEPHONE ANSWERING SERVICE
a. Less control over people answering calls on behalf of your business; some
services may be staffed by people who are unmotivated or dislike what they do.
This can reflect negatively on businesses.
b. Accents or language barriers can pose communication problems; this is
especially true for call centres.
c. Waiting time. Some persons are reluctant to leave voice messages, so
automated answering services may not work in some instances.
d. Confidentiality issues are also important as persons beyond your realm of
control may have access to sensitive telephone messages
e. Automated answering services tend to be full (message storage) after a while,
and unable to take any more messages.
The following questions were considered in the survey:
1. Unemployed/ Employed
2. Employed: Government Establishment/ Private Organisation/ Self-
3. Do you make use of voicemail service?
4. Do you know what a telephone answering service is?
5. Are you always available to answer your phone (office, personal)
6. How important/ confidential are your calls?
7. Will you be willing to use the service?
8. Will your organisation/ the organisation you work for use a telephone
9. How much do you think you can pay for the service?
10. How much do you think the organisation you work for will pay for the
Questions that arose during the survey are:
1. Will it do better than my receptionist?
2. Who/ what is transferring the call and how long will it take to get a
3. Is the payment plan or charges dependent on the number of calls that
comes in daily or monthly?
I will pay double the amount for text messages............period. No
government office is supposed to adopt the use of a telephone answering
service since theirs is a seat at table kind of job... it will surely encourage
absenteeism from office.
1. I think an organisation like SUBURBAN would pay N100, 000 for a
telephone answering service monthly
2. If MTN were to use the answering machine, they would pay N200, 000
3. Approximately thirty organisations out of a hundred will use it.
4. I will pay based on the salary of the receptionist, between 30,000naira
It is nothing short of annoying when a person does not have an answering
service. Let us face it. In this day and age, everyone should be able to
manage at least an answering machine. When it comes to business
transactions, it is even more important to have some sort of answering
service available to your customers.
It shows that people will pay for an answering service depending on the kind of
business they run, the kind of clients they have, and the number of clients who
communicate with them on a daily basis(mainly dependent on working hours).
Multinational companies will offer to pay more. Small – Medium businesses
(retail stores) will pay less because they do not necessarily need a telephone
answering service. Individual business such as Tailors, plumbers, electricians,
Construction workers and other general contractors may need a telephone
answering service because their job could depend on it. Businesses that deal
with emergencies (Medical Practitioners and Lawyers) will pay for this service
(depending on their profit). Medical practitioners are the ones that will benefit
the most from using a phone answering service. Lawyers are another group of
individuals, just like medical emergencies, crime does not take a break. A
Lawyer will use a phone answering service when they are with another client or
out of their office.
All businesses are likely to use a phone answering service (most especially
those that handle emergencies).
In conclusion, 88% of self-employed individuals, will not use the service or pay
less because they are readily available (as a Nigerian) to answer their calls and
also cut down irrelevant expenses. Government establishments will not
encourage the use of a telephone answering service as an Organisation. 60% of
private organisation that provides services that require customer relationship or
assistance will pay for the service, as it enhances their business, cuts down costs
of staff benefits, and also enhances market intelligence.
The following is a glossary of terms and products used in the call centre
industry. It covers the commonly used terms,
Agent: the telephone operative who handles the call at an extension.
Aggressiveness Level: used with power or predictive diallers. The level or
speed at which the calls are automatically placed for the agent.
Automated Fax: systems that will automatically send a fax to the caller if
CLI Call Line Identity: identifies the number calling on a screen.
Call Record: digital recording system, primarily for inbound centres.
Database: the base list from which all calls are made.
Device Numbers: extensions, agents and lines can be given a code to identify
them in system reporting.
Extension: the physical telephone handset at which an agent takes/makes calls
Log on: when an agent tells the system he/she is connected and ready to
Skills Routing: a system which directs calls to a particular agent where specific
skills or knowledge is required.
Unavailable: an agent may make themselves unavailable for a next call,
Voice Mail: system for recording messages to agents/operators.
Voice Recognition: sophisticated auto attendant system where the caller can
respond to prompts with spoken answers rather than entering key strokes on
Wrap Up: an agent can enter a wrap up state before they terminate a call, to
complete paperwork or enter data and will not receive another call until they
leave wrap up.