What to Look for in an Answering Service

Many involved in the multifamily industry know the importance of answering services to their respective businesses. In many ways, your answering service is a direct representation of your brand. Answering services help potential residents get their questions answered and help current residents get their maintenance needs taken care of. The service you have can say a lot about your company, but with so many answering services out there, how do you know which one is right for your company?

All Day Availability

It’s 3 am and your apartment resident, Betty, has her sink pipe burst. Water is gushing everywhere and Betty is in a panic because her kitchen is flooding. If Betty were to call your company at 3 am with this emergency maintenance situation, would her call be heard and responded to immediately?

24/7 capability is perhaps the most important feature you should look for in an answering service. If it’s after business hours and your staff is unavailable, residents need to be reassured that their calls will be heard and that emergencies will be taken care of as quickly as possible.

Another important aspect of availability is being able to reach the right person. Our product, Answer Automation, increases availability by allowing you to fill nine slots for an ‘emergency call roster.’ The roster can be made up of various maintenance techs and customer support staff members. Answer Automation will call each slot until the message is heard and responded to by someone on the emergency call roster.

Bottom Line: Choose a service that has 24/7 capabilities so Betty doesn’t have to swim around her kitchen until business hours.

Professionally Voiced Greetings

What’s the worst sound to a resident’s ears? It could quite possibly be those cheesy, robotic sounding greetings that many answering services use. You know, the ones that make you feel like you’re talking to Siri through a Burger King drive-thru? In order to help make people feel comfortable and at ease, look for an answering service that allows you to record custom greetings that will make your residents and potential residents feel comfortable, instead of like they’re talking to a robot. Your residents will appreciate the down-to-earth vibe they get from your answering service.

Bottom Line: Look for professionally voiced greetings when searching for an answering service and avoid sounding like Robocop retired from the force to join your staff.

Easy Tech for Techs

Just like not everyone is handy with tools, not everyone is tech savvy. While there are plenty of maintenance techs that are tech savvy, there are also a lot that aren’t up to date with newer technology. It’s crucial to not only your maintenance techs, but also to your residents that you choose an answering service that is easy to use and understand.

Answer Automation is easy to use for both maintenance techs and residents. It features easily navigable menu options so residents can get their questions and requests addressed without the hassle of sifting through confusing menu choices. Answer Automation also makes the lives of maintenance techs easier too.

Let’s say your maintenance tech Earl just figured out how to text last month. Earl, more than likely, would prefer to deal with a simplified answering service rather than a complex one when dealing with emergency maintenance requests. Now let’s say Betty, the resident from the 2nd paragraph, calls at 3 am about her busted sink pipe. If Betty’s apartment complex used Answer Automation, she could leave Earl a message stating her emergency. That message then is relayed out to all on-call techs in the call roster. Earl then sees the message and calls Betty back to let her know he’s on the way. When Earl arrives, he can check-in on-site, document photos of the pipe fix, and he can then mark the situation as resolved all through Answer Automation’s Mobile Maintenance App on his phone. The problem is fixed quickly and all parties involved are happy.

Bottom Line: For the sake of your maintenance techs, choose an answering service that is easy to use and spare Earl having to ask the question, “What in tarnations is going on?”

Other Answering Service Essentials

The three paragraphs above are some of the main essentials you should look for in an answering service. Looking for these three things is certainly a great starting point to help you narrow down your search for the right answering service. Other important features to look for are:

  • Voice Activated menu navigation (Answer Automation doesn’t currently offer this, but we’re looking into it!)
  • Reporting and call analytics
  • Multilingual support
  • Customer satisfaction ratings after maintenance completion (Another add-on we’re looking into for Answer Automation)

The Bottom Line

There are many answering services out there so it’s important to consider what the needs of your business and residents are before pulling the trigger on a service. Do your homework and consider some of the features discussed in this post. We didn’t create this post to toot our own horn, but we are very confident that our answering service will meet the needs of your property and the satisfaction of your residents as well.