Telephone Answering Service

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Running a Telephone Answering Service

Don’t Let the Day-to-Day Pressures of Running Your TAS Push Aside What Matters More

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Running a telephone answering service is a challenging proposition. It seems there’s always too much to do and not enough time to do it.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Therefore, it’s understandable when the day ends before you complete your to-do-list. But that’s not justification for making these common TAS mistakes.

1. Training Shortfalls

It’s critical to get new hires answering calls and productive as soon as possible. Yet too often the temptation is to rush through training. Don’t do this. It’s short sighted. Instead provide thorough agent training to ensure they’re ready to handle client calls efficiently and professionally.

2. Inconsistent Processes

Review your standard operating procedures (SOP). Efficiency requires consistent handling and processing of client calls. Every deviation is a chance for an error to occur. Having standard processes in place helps ensure consistency and accuracy in the way calls are handled.

3. Overlooking Basic Agent Skills

Don’t forget the importance of call etiquette and customer service skills. It’s the foundation for providing a good service and having satisfied callers. This starts with standard communication skills and proper call etiquette. This is an essential step to provide a positive experience for callers.

4. Aversion to Technology

Another common mistake is overlooking the importance of technology. This doesn’t mean you need the latest, leading-edge tools in your answering service. But don’t skimp in this area either.

Keep abreast of the latest developments to determine the right time to invest in technology. With the right infrastructure in place, you’ll increase agent efficiency and enhance customer service outcomes.

This will provide a better overall service experience.

5. Ignoring Data

Answering service platforms are known for all the statistics they produce. It’s easy to let all the numbers and quantitative output overwhelm you. Yet the other extreme is spending too much time dwelling on these statistics.

It is essential, however, to monitor and analyze call data. There are three areas to address: agent metrics, client results, and overall system performance. Don’t neglect any of these areas.

Use the data to make informed decisions to improve outcomes.

6. Withholding Feedback

Ensure that your agents know how they’re doing. Most of them want to do their job well and are looking for ways to improve. And if they don’t want to improve, why are you employing them?

Give them regular feedback on their performance. This includes both quantitative results and qualitative coaching. By providing ongoing feedback and coaching you will improve staff performance and enhance service quality.

7. Not Prioritizing the Client

The function of a telephone answering service is to answer calls. Therefore, it’s easy to focus on the calls that come into your operation.

While you don’t want to overlook these callers, remember that it’s ultimately your clients you must keep happy. Focus on them.

Yes, this starts with keeping their customers happy when they call and serving them with excellence. But, as you delight clients’ customers when they call, it’s possible to overlook your clients in the process.

8. No Contingency Plans

A final consideration is to plan for the unexpected. Have a backup plan in place to address unexpected events such as technical problems, staffing shortages, weather issues, natural disasters, local emergencies, and pandemics.

Not having an adequate response during a crisis will damage your reputation, frustrate clients, and not serve your clients’ customers.


Though these eight common TAS mistakes may seem like a formidable list of items to deal with—amid the day-to-day challenges of running your operation—it’s essential to make time to address them,

A failure to do so will damage your bottom line and jeopardize the long-term viability of your telephone answering service. Your job—and the jobs of everyone who works there—are at stake.

Address these common TAS mistakes, and you’ll see much of the rest fall into place.

Learn more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.