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The Easiest and Cheapest Way to Start a Telephone Answering Service from Home

Even though business people increasingly rely on mobile phones, the fact remains that the smart ones know that being at the beck and call of every prospect and client is inefficient. They know that every job takes longer and mistakes are far more likely if they allow themselves to be constantly interrupted by a ringing phone.

So the smart operators would rather have their phone calls answered by someone else. The problem for small businesses is that paying for a full time telephonist or secretary is just not economic. What they need is a telephone answering service manned by human operators. And it is this need that presents an ideal business opportunity to those who want to set up a business at low cost.

Operating a telephone answering service from home on behalf of local small businesses is one of the simplest and least expensive home businesses to set up. It is very suitable for those who are housebound for whatever reason. It’s also a business that can be operated by people with a disability who either find it easier or have no choice but to work from home.

Large office based telephone answering services use sophisticated and expensive computer equipment. When the phone rings, the software knows from the dialled number which client is being called and displays the client details on the operator’s computer screen.

In the past the only way a home-based answering service could compete was by having a separate phone line for each client so that calls could be answered in the client’s name. This was not only cumbersome but meant that only one call could be answered for each client at a time. And the only way to expand the customer base was by buying more phone lines.

But now there is another way made possible by the recent introduction of virtual switchboards. These are phone systems that are an integral part of the telephone exchange and that offer the same facilities as expensive switchboards but without the attendant cost. In fact, many virtual switchboards are often offered for a small fee and many, especially in the UK, are free to the user.

Each client is allocated a virtual switchboard phone number that is used by the client as the main business number. Alternatively, the client can use call forwarding to send calls to it from an established number.

Calls to the virtual switchboard number are answered automatically and placed in a queue. Each call is then immediately forwarded to the landline number of the telephone answering service. For those just starting out in the telephone answering business, this could even be their home telephone number. That’s because each call is announced. When the operator answers a call they hear “You have a call for ABC company. Press any key to accept”.

The virtual switchboard doesn’t just send calls to one number. It can send them to several in succession if they are not immediately answered or are engaged. This is great for those starting out who can either install more lines as needed or outsource overflow calls to others they recruit to also work from the comfort of their own home.

Of course, virtual switchboards include other features such as voicemail messages delivered by email and notification of missed calls by email. But it is the essential ability to have calls announced and sent to multiple landlines that mean it has never been easier or cheaper for the home worker to start offering a telephone answering service to businesses.

About the Author: Author Michael Soliatis writes about telecom issues and operates a free 0870 virtual switchboard service.

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