How Much Does an Answering Service Cost?

Calculate The Average Price Here

Averaging around $1.42 per minute, find out how much an answering service will cost your business. Compare prices from multiple suppliers.

The chart below  is based on national phone answering service and inbound customer service pricing averages ranging from 25 agent minutes to 1000 minutes. Discounts may be much greater for usage exceeding 1,000 minutes. 

Keeping in mind that higher volume calls may drive the cost per minute/call down. 

National Average Cost of Answering Service

Service Type Average Cost Low End $ High End $
Cost Per Call $0.95 $0.98 $2.15
Cost Per Minute $1.42 $1.25 $1.75
Cost Per Month $143 $63 $305
Minimum Monthly Base Rate $79 $50 $160
Set Up Fee $55 $0 $150
*Price ranges by overall call volume and average call length
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Calculate the Cost of Call Center Services

From medical answering to legal and other small business needs, the costs of call center services are impacted by so many factors that there is really no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much call center services should cost. While this may be a complex issue however, it is possible to learn about how pricing in the call center industry works. By understanding the ways that fees are assessed and billing set up at most call centers, you can start to predict either a general range of the costs you may face, or understand how to temper your expectations or service requests to land within a predetermined budget range for your call center services.

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Answering Service Cost by Industry

The below chart will give you a general idea of factors that impact the cost of an answering service by specific industry.

Average Monthly Cost of Answering Service by Niche

Industry Type Avg. Calls/Month Avg. Cost Low End Avg. Cost High End
Medical 250 – 300 Calls $312 $375
Legal 200 – 275 Calls $250 $310
Contractors 100 – 125 Calls $125 $170
Property Management 300 – 500 Calls $375 $675
Small Businesses (varies) 75 – 100 Calls $94 $150
*Price ranges by overall call volume and average call length

Factors (by Niche) that Impact Prices

  1. Medical Answering Service Cost:

    • Volume of Calls: More calls generally mean a higher cost.
    • Specialized Training: Medical answering staff require specialized training to handle patients’ inquiries correctly and safely.
    • HIPAA Compliance: Ensuring the service is compliant with patient privacy regulations may incur additional costs.
    • Software Integration: Integration with hospital or clinic software systems may add to the cost.
    • 24/7 Availability: Round-the-clock services typically cost more due to staffing needs.
  2. Attorney Answering Service Cost:

    • Confidentiality Needs: Legal matters require strict confidentiality, which may demand secure systems and trained legal intake personnel.
    • Legal Expertise: Answering personnel might need background knowledge in legal terms and procedures.
    • Call Volume: As with most services, higher call volumes often mean higher costs.
    • Tailored Scripts: Customized responses for specific legal inquiries can increase costs.
    • CRM Integration: Costs can go up if the service needs to integrate with a law firm’s specific client relationship management system.
  3. Contractor Answering Service (Roofers, HVAC, Plumbers):

    • Call Volume: The number of calls determines staffing and infrastructure needs.
    • Scheduling Capabilities: Integration with scheduling or job management software might be necessary.
    • Emergency Response: Handling emergency repair requests might require prioritization and rapid dispatch, affecting costs.
    • Industry-specific Knowledge: Understanding technical jargon and procedures in these industries is essential.
    • Dispatch Services: The ability to send out repair teams based on calls may add another layer of complexity and cost.
  4. Property Management Answering Service:

    • Call Volume: More properties often mean more calls, and thus, higher costs.
    • After-hours Availability: Tenants may have issues outside regular business hours, demanding 24/7 availability.
    • Tenant Issues Complexity: Handling a wide range of tenant concerns from maintenance to disputes can be challenging.
    • Property Portfolio Size: Larger portfolios might necessitate a more extensive infrastructure to manage calls and issues.
    • Software Integration: Integrating with property management software for real-time tracking and response can increase costs.
  5. Small Business Answering Service:

    • Call Volume: The basic metric that often dictates the service’s size and cost.
    • Business Hours: Extended or 24/7 availability can influence cost.
    • Industry Specialization: Some businesses may need specialized knowledge from the answering service.
    • Scalability: The capacity to grow with the business can influence initial setup and ongoing costs.
    • CRM Compatibility: Integration with customer relationship management tools or other business software may add to the expense.

Things to Consider

Phone Answering Service Solutions

Before you can understand a reasonable price for call center services, these are some of the factors to keep in mind throughout the process. Any of these can affect how much you end up paying, and shifting your expectations or requirements in any of these categories could help lower your costs if that is a factor in selecting your provider.

  • What hours do you need your call center to be available?
  • How fast do you need response times to be?
  • How complex is the work you need workers to do after taking a message?
  • How many calls do you need your service to handle?

These questions are important because they provide you with two things. First, they allow you to define clearly what your needs are in a call centre. Secondly, they allow you to have a set of questions that you can ask a prospective call center in order to find out if they would be a good fit, and how their pricing will fit within your needs.

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2 Easy Ways to Control the Range of Call Center Pricing

Listed Below are 2 Easy Ways to Mange Call Center Costs and Monthly Bills:

  1. Limit the Amount of Information the Agent Collects:

    How it Works: By reducing the amount of data an agent is required to collect during each call, you effectively shorten the duration of each interaction. Whether it’s basic identification data, survey information, or detailed feedback, streamlining the information-gathering process makes each call more efficient.

    Impact on Billing: Call center services often bill based on the duration or number of calls taken by agents. When agents spend less time on each call due to a more focused data collection process, the overall cost for the service decreases. Additionally, with quicker calls, agents can handle a higher volume of customers, potentially reducing wait times and increasing customer satisfaction.

  2. Set Up an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Upfront:

    How it Works: IVR is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information, and routes calls based on the caller’s choices. By setting up an IVR system, businesses can ensure that only calls of a certain importance or category are directed to live agents. Less critical calls, such as general inquiries or feedback, can be directed to voicemail or provided with pre-recorded information.

    Impact on Billing: Implementing an IVR system reduces the number of calls that require a live agent, hence directly reducing costs. Calls that aren’t revenue-generating or urgent won’t occupy agent time, ensuring that you’re primarily spending on calls that directly benefit the business. Furthermore, an IVR system can handle multiple calls simultaneously, unlike human agents, leading to additional cost savings. Making sure that revenue-generating or urgent calls are prioritized and answered by humans ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, optimizing the return on investment.

By streamlining the data collection process and incorporating efficient call routing via an IVR system, businesses can effectively control and even reduce their call center expenses while maintaining or even improving their service quality.

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Small Businesses vs Corporation – Call Center Billing Practices

A primary consideration when it comes to the costs of call center services is that small businesses and large corporations are operating in very different environments and have very different needs for these types of services. As such, there are call services that are much better suited to working with small business clients, and those which are better geared towards large, national clients.

Answering Service

Small businesses may find answering services provided by other small businesses that can offer excellent answering services at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. However, this may come with the drawback of a limit on the amount of modern technology integration that is incorporated into the service. However, if a bare-bones answering service is all that is required, small businesses can often find better rates by partnering with other small companies, as long as they can tolerate the possible lack of more advanced features.

Estimating Answering Service Call Volumes

When businesses consider outsourcing to an answering service, one of the pressing concerns is estimating the call volume they’ll need the service for. Understandably, not every business will have a clear answer to this due to various factors like seasonal fluctuations or marketing campaigns.

Recognizing this challenge, most answering service companies offer solutions to help businesses gauge their requirements. A common practice is to provide a one-week free trial. This trial serves a dual purpose:

  1. Experiencing the Value: The trial period allows businesses to firsthand experience the benefits of the service. They can assess the professionalism of the agents, the efficiency of the service, and how it integrates with their current operations.
  2. Estimating Call Volume: The free trial week also acts as a data collection period. During this time, businesses can monitor and record the number of calls directed to the answering service. This gives a representative sample of the typical call volume they can expect on a regular basis. By extrapolating this data, businesses can then make informed decisions on the amount of time they’ll likely need to outsource call answering to.

In essence, if you’re uncertain about your call volume, taking advantage of the free trial periods offered by many answering services not only lets you test the waters but also provides concrete data to make informed decisions moving forward.

Is Answering Service Pricing Everything?

Remember that price is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to selecting your call centre. The level of service the company can provide, the technology they use to integrate with your business, and the customer service they provide to your callers are all factors that are at least as important, and in many cases, more important, than the bottom dollar. Obviously however, pricing remains a consideration, and the best way to get an accurate assessment of potential cost is to contact a prospective call center and ask them to quote you directly based on your business model.

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