answering service

How to Choose the Best Answering Service in 3 Easy Steps

In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, the way businesses manage their communication channels can have a significant impact on their overall performance and reputation. An answering service is a valuable asset that can help you keep up with the demands of your customers and save your business precious time and resources. This guide will take you through three easy steps to help you choose the best-answering service for your business.

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Step 1: Understand Your Needs

The first step in selecting the right answering service is to clearly identify your needs. An in-depth understanding of your business operations and communication requirements can significantly narrow down your options and lead you to the service that best suits you.

Identifying Volume and Frequency

Assess your call volume and frequency. This includes considering the peak hours for incoming calls, which can vary depending on the nature of your business. Retail businesses may experience higher call volume during holidays, whereas B2B operations might receive more calls during standard business hours. A good answering service should be capable of handling your peak call volume without compromising service quality.

Language Requirements

Language proficiency is another crucial factor. If you are catering to an international market, or if your local demographic is multilingual, you might need an answering service that offers multilingual support.

Type of Services

Identify the type of services you require from an answering service. Some businesses need basic message-taking services, while others require more complex services like order processing, customer service support, appointment scheduling, or emergency dispatching. The better you understand your requirements, the more effective your search for an answering service will be.

Step 2: Research Your Options

Now that you’ve determined your needs, it’s time to explore the market and research the various answering service providers. Here’s what you should be looking at:

Reputation and Experience

Look at the reputation and experience of the service providers. Check out online reviews, client testimonials, and any industry awards or recognitions they’ve received. A service provider’s track record can give you valuable insights into their professionalism, reliability, and quality of service.


Evaluate the pricing structure of the service providers. Some may charge per call, while others may charge per minute. It’s crucial to understand exactly what you’re paying for, including any hidden costs or potential overage fees. Also, make sure to check the contract details, including the length of the agreement and the terms for cancellation.

Technology and Infrastructure

Look into the technology and infrastructure that the service providers use. They should have robust and secure systems in place to ensure the seamless handling of your calls. Also, consider their disaster recovery plan; they should be able to handle your calls even during power outages or natural disasters.

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Step 3: Test the Service

Before making a final decision, it’s a good idea to test the service of the providers on your shortlist.

Trial Period

Check if the service providers offer a trial period. A trial allows you to experience the service firsthand and assess whether it aligns with your business needs. It’s an opportunity to gauge the quality of service, responsiveness, and overall professionalism of the provider.

Quality of Service

Pay attention to the quality of customer service. Notice how their representatives handle your calls – Are they courteous? Do they manage calls efficiently? Are they able to handle difficult situations effectively? This can give you a good idea of how your customers will be treated.

Customer Support

Check their customer support for clients. If you encounter a problem or need assistance, it’s important to have easy access to a supportive, responsive, and effective client service team.

Choosing an answering service is an important decision that can significantly influence your business operations. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the time to understand your needs, conduct thorough research, and test the service thoroughly before making a final decision. Here’s a quick recap of the steps we’ve discussed:

Step 1: Understand Your Needs

  • Identify the volume and frequency of your calls.
  • Determine any language requirements based on your customer demographics.
  • Clearly outline the type of services you need from an answering service.

Step 2: Research Your Options

  • Assess the reputation and experience of potential service providers.
  • Evaluate their pricing structure and be aware of any hidden costs.
  • Examine the technology and infrastructure they use, and their disaster recovery plans.

Step 3: Test the Service

  • Use the trial period to evaluate the quality of the service.
  • Pay attention to the quality of customer service they provide.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of their customer support for clients.

These steps form a solid foundation for your decision-making process. But to ensure the best choice for your business, consider the following additional factors:

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Continuity and Adaptability

The business environment is always evolving, and so too are your business needs. Thus, the answering service you choose should be able to adapt to these changes. Ask potential service providers how they can accommodate fluctuations in call volume, or changes in your services or products. They should have flexible plans and adaptability to meet your evolving needs.

Training and Quality Assurance

Investigate how the answering service providers train their staff. Well-trained operators can offer a high level of customer service that leaves a positive impression on your callers. Additionally, ask about their quality assurance process. The best providers will have a system for regularly monitoring and improving the quality of their service.

Data Security

Data security is a top concern in today’s digital world. You want to ensure that the sensitive information of your business and your customers is safe. The answering service provider should adhere to stringent data security measures, including data encryption, secure networks, and regular security audits.

Choosing the right answering service is about more than just offloading your call-handling responsibilities. It’s about choosing a partner who can enhance your customer service, streamline your operations, and grow your business. By following these three steps and considering the additional factors we’ve discussed, you’re well on your way to making an informed decision that will benefit your business in the long run.

Finding an Answering Service for Small Businesses

Choosing the right answering service can be a game-changer for small businesses. As the cornerstone of customer communication, the way you manage your phone calls can significantly impact your business’s reputation, customer satisfaction, and overall success. As a small business owner, you may wear many hats and juggle numerous tasks. An effective answering service can help alleviate some of this pressure, allowing you to focus on other essential areas of your business. In this section, we’ll focus on finding an answering service for small businesses, with a particular emphasis on the benefits of features like a mobile app and live receptionist services.

Evaluating Your Needs as a Small Business

For small businesses, finding an answering service that understands your unique challenges and can cater to your specific needs is crucial. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Call Volume: Unlike larger corporations, small businesses might not have the high call volumes that necessitate 24/7 answering services. It’s essential to evaluate your call volume to determine whether you need a full-time answering service or an after-hours one.
  • Budget: Small businesses often operate on tighter budgets. Look for an answering service with transparent pricing that provides excellent value for money. Make sure you’re only paying for the services you need.
  • Business Growth: As a small business, you’re likely focused on growth. The ideal answering service will be able to scale with your business, seamlessly handling an increasing call volume as your customer base expands.

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Mobile App Features for Enhanced Accessibility

In the digital age, having a mobile app for your answering service can significantly enhance your communication efficiency. This feature allows you to manage your calls directly from your smartphone, offering several benefits:

  • Real-Time Notifications: A mobile app can send you instant notifications about missed calls, messages, or important updates, ensuring you never miss a beat.
  • Remote Accessibility: With a mobile app, you can access your call logs, messages, and other essential data anywhere, anytime. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for small businesses where owners or managers may need to multitask and work on the go.
  • Easy Management: Mobile apps often come with intuitive interfaces that make it easy to manage your calls, messages, and other settings.

Live Receptionist for Personalized Customer Experience

In a world increasingly dominated by automated responses, a live receptionist can provide a unique, personalized touch that sets your small business apart. Here’s why:

  • Human Connection: Live receptionists can interact with your customers on a personal level, building rapport and fostering a sense of connection, which can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Problem Solving: Live receptionists are often better at solving complex problems or handling sensitive issues, providing a higher level of service to your customers.
  • Professional Image: A live receptionist can project a professional image, making your small business appear larger and more established, which can instill confidence in your customers.

Finding the right answering service for small businesses requires a careful evaluation of your specific needs, a keen eye for valuable features like a mobile app, and an appreciation for the personalized touch a live receptionist can provide. By considering these factors, you can choose an answering service that not only meets your call-handling needs but also contributes to your growth and success in the long run.

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The Cost of Hiring an Answering Service and the Value of a Free Trial

One of the significant factors influencing the decision to hire an answering service is the cost. It’s crucial to understand that the cost can vary widely based on factors such as the size of your business, the volume of your calls, and the type of services you require. Before you make a decision, it’s beneficial to look at the average costs of answering services, and take advantage of opportunities such as a free trial to ensure the service meets your needs.

Understanding the Cost of Answering Services

Answering services typically charge in one of two ways: per call or per minute. The ‘per call’ pricing model charges you for every call handled by the service, while the ‘per minute’ model charges you for the total time the service spends handling your calls, including the time spent on tasks related to the call like sending emails or text messages.

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the average costs for answering services were as follows:

  • Per Minute Cost: The average cost per minute ranged from $0.70 to $1.20. Packages often came in increments such as 50, 100, or 200 minutes per month. For instance, a 100-minute package could cost anywhere from $70 to $120 per month.
  • Per Call Cost: The per call pricing model typically averaged between $0.85 to $1.50 per call.

Remember, these costs can vary based on the service provider, the complexity of the services provided, and whether you require additional features like bilingual services or 24/7 call handling.

Additional Costs to Consider

In addition to the basic per-minute or per-call costs, you should be aware of additional costs:

  • Set-Up Fee: Some answering services charge a one-time setup fee. This could range from $50 to $150, depending on the provider.
  • Overage Fees: If you exceed your package limit, you’ll typically be charged an overage fee. This is usually calculated per minute or per call, depending on your plan.
  • Additional Features: Advanced features like appointment scheduling, order processing, or CRM integration may come with additional costs.

The Value of a Free Trial

Many answering services offer a free trial, typically ranging from one to four weeks. This trial period provides an opportunity to test the service in real-time and evaluate its value to your business. Here are a few reasons why taking advantage of a free trial is beneficial:

  • Service Quality: A free trial allows you to gauge the quality of the service firsthand. You can assess their responsiveness, professionalism, and how well they handle different call scenarios.
  • Cost Assessment: A trial period can also help you estimate your usage and better understand what package might suit you best. This can help prevent overpaying for services you don’t need or underestimating your usage and facing overage fees.
  • Compatibility: Finally, a free trial can help you determine if the answering service fits well with your business operations. It allows you to test out features and integration with your existing systems.

While the cost is a significant factor in choosing an answering service, it’s essential to consider the value it brings to your business. By understanding the costs involved, considering additional features, and taking advantage of a free trial, you can make a cost-effective decision that positively impacts your business operations and customer satisfaction.

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Top 10 Answering Services in 2023

The market for answering services has grown significantly, with an array of providers each offering unique features and services. While there are many excellent options to choose from, we’ve rounded up the top 10 answering services of 2023 to help you narrow down your search. These services stand out for their exceptional performance in handling phone lines, ability to schedule appointments, provide technical support, and other valuable features.

  1. Abby Connect: Known for its superior customer service, Abby Connect offers a personalized approach to call handling. It provides a dedicated team of live receptionists who manage your phone lines, helping to create a consistent and professional image for your business.
  2. Map Communications: Map Communications offers a variety of services, including message taking, appointment scheduling, and order processing. Their robust technical support ensures a smooth and efficient service experience.
  3. Ruby Receptionists: Ruby Receptionists offers a mix of live answering services and a powerful mobile app. This gives businesses the flexibility to manage their phone lines effectively, whether in the office or on the go.
  4. AnswerConnect: This service stands out for its 24/7/365 availability. Whether you need after-hours coverage or overflow support during peak times, AnswerConnect ensures that your customers always have someone to talk to.
  5. VoiceNation: VoiceNation offers professional live answering services, including bilingual support. They can manage your phone lines, schedule appointments, and even process orders.
  6. Call Center Pros: With a focus on customer service, Call Center Pros provide comprehensive call handling services, including technical support and appointment scheduling. Their flexibility and scalability make them a great choice for growing businesses.
  7. Go Answer: Go Answer offers 24/7 live answering services, including order processing and appointment scheduling. Their high-quality services are suitable for a wide range of industries.
  8. Davinci Virtual: Known for their virtual receptionist services, Davinci Virtual provides a range of features including live web chat, appointment scheduling, order processing, and more.
  9. Specialty Answering Service (SAS): SAS offers a wide range of services, including help desk support, lead capture, and appointment scheduling. They have solutions for various industries, from healthcare to e-commerce.
  10. AnswerNet: AnswerNet is a versatile answering service with a wide range of offerings, including order processing, help desk services, and seminar registration. They are particularly known for their robust technical support.

Each of these services has its unique strengths, so the best choice depends on your specific needs. Remember to take into account factors such as the size of your business, your call volume, and any specific features you need. By considering these factors, you’re on the right path to finding the perfect answering service for your business.

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Different Types of Answering Services for Any Industry

Different industries have distinct communication needs, and thankfully, answering services have evolved to cater to these varied requirements. Whether your organization is a medical practice, a law firm, or a retail business, there are specialized answering services for all industries designed to help manage your phone numbers and provide necessary call center services. These services range from interactive voice response systems to live chat services, along with an array of additional services to meet your specific needs.

Medical Practices

Answering services for medical practices often need to handle sensitive patient information and must be HIPAA-compliant. They not only manage phone calls but can also schedule appointments, handle emergency calls, and even manage prescription refill requests. Some services specialize in offering bilingual support, ensuring that all patients can communicate comfortably.

Legal Services

For law firms and legal practitioners, answering services can be an essential tool for client communication. These services can handle new client intake, appointment scheduling, and even offer after-hours support. Given the sensitive nature of legal information, these services typically emphasize confidentiality and security.


For e-commerce businesses, call center services handle customer inquiries, process orders, and provide technical support. An essential feature in this sector is interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which guide callers through menu options and can help handle common customer queries.

Real Estate

In the real estate industry, timely communication can make the difference between closing a deal or losing one. Answering services for real estate businesses handle calls from potential buyers, sellers, and renters. They can also schedule viewings and forward urgent calls.

Retail Businesses

Retail businesses often require an omnichannel approach to customer service. Alongside managing phone numbers and providing call center services, these businesses can benefit from live chat services. These services allow customer queries to be addressed promptly and can even facilitate sales and returns.

IT Companies

IT companies often require technical support services, and here answering services come in handy. They provide first-level support, assisting with common technical issues, and can escalate more complex issues to the appropriate team. This 24/7 support can greatly enhance customer satisfaction and problem resolution times.

Additional Services

In addition to industry-specific services, many answering services offer additional features to enhance their offerings. This can include email management, SMS messaging, CRM integration, and more. These services can provide a comprehensive communication solution, ensuring all customer touchpoints are expertly handled.

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Whatever your industry, there’s an answering service tailored to meet your needs. By carefully evaluating your requirements and researching different providers, you can find the perfect service to handle your calls, manage your communications, and ultimately enhance your customer service.

The Cost-Saving Benefits of Hiring an Answering Service

Many businesses weigh the cost of hiring an answering service against the cost of hiring a full-time employee to manage their phone lines. When you dive into the details, you’ll often find that an answering service can offer significant cost-saving benefits. It’s not just about handling calls – it’s also about considering the most cost-effective and efficient solution for managing your potential calls. In many cases, an answering service, or a virtual assistant, may be the best option for your business.

Savings on Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a full-time receptionist in the U.S. ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 per year, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021. This doesn’t take into account additional costs like health insurance, retirement contributions, and paid time off, which can add significantly to the cost of a full-time employee.

On the other hand, the cost of an answering service can vary widely based on your specific needs, but it’s often significantly less expensive. As mentioned earlier, the average cost per minute for an answering service ranged from $0.70 to $1.20, while the per call pricing model averaged between $0.85 to $1.50 per call. Depending on your call volume, you could be looking at costs ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars per month – significantly less than the cost of a full-time employee.

Savings on Training and Office Space

When you hire a full-time employee, you also need to consider the costs associated with training and providing office space. Training a new employee to handle your calls can take considerable time and resources, while office space, even for one employee, can be expensive.

A virtual assistant from an answering service, however, is already trained to handle a variety of call scenarios. They also work remotely, eliminating the need for office space. These factors can result in substantial cost savings.

24/7 Coverage

Another factor to consider is the cost of coverage. A full-time employee typically works 40 hours per week, leaving plenty of hours in the week when potential calls could go unanswered. To cover evenings, weekends, and holidays, you’d need to hire additional staff or pay overtime, significantly increasing your costs.

Most answering services, on the other hand, offer 24/7 coverage. No matter when your customers call, there will be someone there to answer, and you won’t be paying for each hour of coverage, just for the calls that are answered.


As your business grows, your call volume may increase. Hiring more staff to manage these calls can be expensive. An answering service, however, can easily scale with your business, handling an increasing number of calls without the need to hire more employees.

While the upfront cost of an answering service might make hiring a full-time employee seem like a cheaper option, the long-term cost savings of an answering service can be substantial. When you consider the savings on salary and benefits, training and office space, and the advantages of 24/7 coverage and scalability, an answering service or a virtual assistant is often the best, most cost-effective option for handling your business’s calls.

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