I want our 1300 phone number answered and messages emailed to us to follow up.
I'm particularly interested in your experience as a client of this type of service.
I've never heard of a 1300 number, but maybe in Australia it is the equivalent of a toll-free number. The challenge with any message service is the frustration of the prospective or existing customer who wants their question answered NOW, not leave a message to be returned.
With any call center, you should ask them for some of their client references, and you should most certainly call the numbers they're answering for to measure how quickly the calls get answered, how pleasant the call center representatives are, and how much information you can get from the rep at the time of the call before you're transferred or a message is taken.
Regardless of whether it's a message service or customer service, you will need to train the call center employees who handle your account. And you will need to regularly call in pretending to be a customer to make sure they are upholding your call answering standards.
If I make the effort to pick up the telephone, I want to talk to someone now. If I'm willing to wait for a return message, I'm going to use email. Please keep in mind the deflationary effect of message relays. Customer enthusiasm will drop and the difficulty in returning messages at a time when you can actually reach the customer and they are still in the buying mood, sets up a high barrier to success. Phone tag is never a good scenario. If you can enable your call center to handle the calls to completion (provide answers, take orders, whatever the reason you have the number) it is far preferable than to be a message service.
If you are too busy to take orders and answer questions about your products/services, you need more people to answer that phone and give immediate satisfaction to the callers. You get one chance to give a first impression, and it is VERY easy for them to call your competitor and do business elsewhere while you're sitting on messages to return. Never surrender the opportunity to provide superior service on the first contact. It's when you have the highest chance of getting money from the caller. And it may be the only chance you get before they look somewhere else and abandon you.
It may not turn out to be a good service the market will absorb.