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Five Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Answering Service

1. What is the company’s billing practice?

When evaluating a potential answering service, price is always an important issue. Different services offer varying pricing plans and they can be difficult to compare. Make sure you get an upfront list of all possible charges. Some companies offer a low flat rate, but then build in additional charges for simple services like faxing and paging, or increase the rate within a short period of time.

It is also important to note how charges on incoming calls are calculated. While some companies charge on a per minute or per call basis, other companies charge on a per unit basis. The unit can be anywhere from 5-15 seconds. Understand upfront what you are paying for and how the units are defined.

Some companies bill customers on a 28-day billing cycle. In essence, customers involved in such a plan pay thirteen times over the course of the calendar year.

Finally, be sure to ask if the company requires a long-term service agreement. Are you bound by the contract for a minimum length of time? Are your first and last month’s bill pro-rated? Are holidays extra? How much notification do you need to give before terminating the agreement? Asking these kinds of questions will assist you in your decision-making.

Metro Medical has transparent pricing plans. We charge on a per minute basis and never have any hidden fees. We bill customers on a true monthly cycle and there are no long-term contracts to sign. Customers’ first and last months’ bills are pro-rated.

2. Are references available upon request?

An answering service should be willing to provide you with references upon request. Make sure to speak with these references and ask them a range of questions. These questions should address a variety of topics including the professionalism of the operators and their ability to follow instructions, the average length of hold times and the overall responsiveness of management, and the ability to accommodate last minute requests.Make sure the references provided are those of medical professionals – ideally from your own specialty, your own geographical location and with similar protocols. The closer the references match your own practice, the better sense you will get of the answering service’s ability to meet your specific needs.

Metro Medical willingly provides references upon request. We work with some of the best-known medical professionals and hospital departments in the world. Collectively, these practices cover the full spectrum of medical specialties.

3. What types of contingency plans are in place in the event of a disaster?

When selecting an answering service, many people fail to look into the company’s ability to adequately cope with a disaster or catastrophic event. This is an important issue for all answering service customers, but especially for medical professionals. It is exactly these kinds of situations when the need for medical professionals may be highest.Does the answering service have an onsite, back-up generator in the event of the loss of electricity? Can calls be answered in a different location if telephone lines are affected?

The key word you want to hear from your prospective service is redundancy and not just a redundant disk drive in the system. You want to know that if a power outage occurred or telephone lines were cut in one locale with extended interruption, the company could draw upon resources (i.e., equipment and personnel) in a separate, unaffected area to maintain service. Companies that can provide you uninterrupted service clearly differentiate themselves from competitors and provide increased assurance and peace of mind.

All Metro Medical systems are covered by service contracts with twenty-four hour on-call maintenance staff and critical spare parts on-site. Metro Medical has both an uninterruptible power supply as well as a hardwired, on-site generator that constantly supports the system. These safeguards help ensure continuous service in the event of a power outage.

No other call center in the country can match the redundancy of our network. Metro Medical is affiliated with other fully staffed 24-hour live answering services in the Boston Metropolitan area. In the event that Metro Medical’s telephone service were ever disrupted, arrangements can be made to handle calls at these alternate locations as well as at some affiliated with the largest answering service network in the United States with fifty affiliated offices in twenty states. This additional support structure provides a safety net and even greater flexibility in the event of widespread disruption of telephone services.

4. How accessible and responsive is management?

Management accessibility and responsiveness are critical in generating long-term customer satisfaction. Take the time to meet with the Account Manager. Is this someone you will be able to trust to follow your instructions? Does this person listen to your concerns and ask questions, or merely list their services without regard to your application? Is someone even available to take your sales call? You want to work with a company committed to providing personalized service, where you are known not as an account, but as an individual. For example, a company’s focus on technical considerations may cause them to overlook the needs of the customer. Find a provider that prioritizes relationships and personalized service, but is large enough so that you can be confident the company will be around for years to come.

Metro Medical customers love doing business with us. We pride ourselves in making management accessible to customers and following-up on their requests quickly. Metro Medical has a staff that leads the industry in experience. Receptionists and managers alike stay with us because they have found an ideal company that values their talents.  Their collective knowledge and experience ensures that you will receive continuous, high-quality service.

5. Is a free trial available?

A free trial allows you to observe your potential answering service in action, without agreeing to a longer-term commitment. Take advantage of these trials. Generally, companies that are willing to offer these kinds of trials have confidence in their ability to deliver a solid product.

Metro Medical offers all prospective customers the opportunity to participate in a free trial, because we are confident that once you try our services, you will want to remain. Please call us today to begin your free trial.