How Does a Telephone Answering Service Work?

A Comprehensive Guide

Running a business can be highly rewarding both financially and mentally, it can even be great fun but there are always challenges that come with it.

One of the most common, especially recently, can be staffing. The thought of “how to answer calls” or even “who will answer my calls?” was probably not top of the agenda when starting the business but it can quickly become a hindrance to growth if either calls are missed or valuable time is taken up dealing with calls that may not result in immediate new business.

That’s where a telephone answering service, like ours, comes in to its element.

So how does our telephone answering service work, how hard is it to set-up and what can you expect once your calls start coming through to us?

Sarah showing how a telephone answering service works

We break down the process step by step and explain how our phone answering service works and how it can help streamline your business call answering.

1) Setting Up Your Call Answering Service Account

Before diving into how a telephone answering service provider works, it’s essential to understand the setup process. The first step most businesses take is to contact us either by telephone/email or by applying online for a free trial of our service.

Setting up a free trial is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes depending on the complexity of tasks you wish our operators to perform:

a) Company Details

You’ll need to provide the following details about your company to set up free trial of our telephone answering services:

  • Full company name
  • Trading status (Sole Trader, Limited Liability Company etc)
  • Registered company number (if applicable)
  • Company website (if applicable)
  • Number of employees (can be approximate)
  • Business opening hours
  • Business address
  • Brief company overview (so our operators can better understand what your company does)

b) Answering Calls

Next you’ll need to tell us how we are to answer calls for your business, either one of the options below or something more bespoke:

  • “Good morning/afternoon, <Your Company Name>, how can I help you?”
  • “Good morning/afternoon, <Your Company Name>, <Operator’s Name> speaking how can I help you?”
  • “Thank you for calling <Your Company Name>, how may I assist you?”
  • Something else, this is a free text field so it really can be anything (within reason!) you wish

c) Handling Calls

Now we’ve answered the call you’ll need to guide us on how you want us to handle it:

  • “…unavailable at the moment”
  • “…in a meeting at the moment”
  • “…please hold the line and I’ll try to transfer you”
  • Something else, again this is a free text field

d) Details to Collect

What details are we to collect in addition to caller name, number and message:

  • Email address
  • Alternative contact number
  • Reference/order number if applicable
  • Other (free text field again)

It’s worth remembering that in order for our operators to appear as professional as possible and part of your business, then they should be seeking to obtain the same level of information that your receptionist currently does or that you wish they did. If the natural flow of calls does not usually warrant an extensive list of details to collect then it’s advisable that our operators collect what would normally suffice.

We find that asking operators to try and request unnatural amounts of data gathering can result in a negative caller experience.

e) Message Delivery

Where and how are messages to be sent to:

  • Email address for messages (can be multiple)
  • Mobile telephone number if SMS messages are to be sent
  • Calls to be transferred

f) Transferring Calls

If calls are to be transferred then you’ll need to tell us in what circumstance a transfer should be attempted (new enquiry, emergency, all calls etc) and the number to transfer the caller through to.

If there are likely to be multiple transfer destinations then it may be best to provide us with a separate spreadsheet or document for our operators to access.

Setting up a call answering client profile online

2) Allocating a Dedicated Business Telephone Number

Once your account is set up, Connect will allocate a telephone number that you can either divert calls to from your existing phone lines or market the number directly.

As the number is unique to your business, our operators are able to identify any calls coming through on it as calls for your company and this is how our telephone answering service works.

3) Diverting Calls to Connect’s Telephone Service

After receiving your unique customer telephone number, you’ll need to divert your calls to Connect’s phone answering service. You can do this by setting up call forwarding with your current telecom provider.

This process varies depending on your provider, but it usually involves entering a specific code or adjusting settings within your phone system.

View our guide on how to divert calls by clicking here.

Diverting calls on an Android mobile phone

4) Professional Call Handling by Trained Operators

We’re able to answer your business calls as soon as your telephone lines are successfully sent/diverted to our answering service. Our operators are skilled at handling your inbound calls with a friendly and professional touch, ensuring your customers receive the fantastic service they and you expect.

We’ll answer your business calls using your specified greeting and can perform various tasks, such as:

  • Taking messages and forwarding them via email or SMS
  • Transferring calls to the appropriate person or department
  • Managing your diary, including making, amending, or cancelling appointments
  • Processing orders and taking payments for your products or services

All of the above will have been discussed when you set-up the account, however as the trial progresses you may feel the need to further refine how our operators are handling your calls.

It’s important to keep in frequent contact with your telephone answering services account manager, especially during the first few weeks of the trial, to make sure our operators are able to provide the best service to your callers and business.

Call answering services work best when there is good communication and you let us know of any changes that may require us to alter how we respond to callers.

5) Customizing Your Service Based on Your Needs

One of the key benefits of using Connect’s telephone service is its flexibility. If things change within your business or you decide that calls need to be handled in a different way then it’s as easy as a phone call or email to our Customer Service team to update your profile.

For example, you might only want us to handle calls during specific hours, when your phone lines are busy or on certain days only. Alternatively, you might decide that you want our operators to do even more and act as an outsourced virtual receptionist and access a diary to book or amend appointments.

Whatever your requirements (within reason!), our traditional answering service can be tailored to meet your needs.

6) Analysing Your Telephone Answering Service Trial

Once your trial has ended our lines will stay open for your business whilst you decide if you’re going to continue on a paid basis. Based on the number of calls taken and messages sent we’ll recommend a package that we fell best suits your needs, this is only a recommendation and if you feel you require a higher or lower package then that’s absolutely fine as well.

If in time it becomes clear you need to be on a different package, maybe as your business grows or if you have seasonal fluctuations, then all that’s required is just a simple call or email and we can increase or decrease as required.

You are not tied in to any long contract with Connect.


This is how our telephone answering service works, we answer and handle the incoming calls that you and in turn this allows you to focus on your business.

Our professional operators answer your calls using your preferred greeting, manage messages and transfers, and can even help with diary management and order processing.

With a dedicated phone number and the ability to customize the service to your needs, our operators provide a seamless and professional solution to your call answering and reception duties.