Best Business Answering Services

The Best Answering Services for Small Businesses

If you are in business, you know proper communication is one of the things that customers value most.

Besides answering their queries and providing them with information, good communication makes them feel valued.

More so, doing this is necessary especially if you want to attract and maintain your customers.

Unfortunately, most companies are engaged in several things thus making it difficult for them to communicate well with their customers.

Luckily, small businesses answering services can help you with these.

Also known as virtual receptionists, these services perform several jobs to ensure that things run smoothly without taking much of your time.

This allows you to dedicate your time to do other things. Apart from saving you money and time, answering services will provide you with a range of features to streamline your business operations.

But with a number of services in the market choosing the best can be a bit tricky.

Provided you know what you are looking for you’ll always end up with the best.

Here are some of the Best Small Business Answering Software that you must know.


1. RingCentral

RingCentral is a cloud-hosted VoIP small answering service suitable for all kinds of businesses.

RingCentral - Best Business Answering Services

This service is simple and easy to use. Available in different plans, you can choose the right one for you.

To use it well, you need access to a cable, high-speed DSL and fiber optic connection.

Once you install it, you’ll get a specialist to take you through the steps and ensure that the service works well.

The amazing thing about it is that it comes with a range of features including hold music, virtual receptionist, call recording, call forwarding, call logs and call screens, message alerts, and even answering rules.

With its conference bridge, it can support up to 1000 calls and other services to allow you to host your own video meetings.

If you are always on the go, it will ensure that you are connected through your business line. You can use it to make calls, receive calls, and even make calls using your computer.

RingCentral Pricing

  • Essentials plan is $19.99
  • The standard plan is $24.99
  • The premium plan is $34.99
  • The ultimate plan is $49.99

Pros

  • Quality video and voice communication
  • Easy to learn user interface
  • Installation and customer support service
  • Comprehensive messaging services

Cons

  • There is no consistency in the apps
  • They should include probability fees and taxes

2. Grasshopper

Grasshopper is answering service designed specifically for small businesses that are on the go.  If you are shopping for the best virtual assistance this is the right system for you.

Grasshopper - Best Business Answering Services

As the best system, it will allow you to present the best image at all times regardless of where your customers are. It does this by answering all your customers’ calls.

It will give you your own dedicated phone number and ensure that your employee gets an extension. When your customer calls, they’ll be directed to the employee they are trying to reach.

Instead of calling the office, the client will be connected to the worker they are seeking to talk to. This could either be a home phone or mobile phone.

With their sophisticated mobile app, you can receive calls and even get business text messages. This will ensure that your business and personal calls are kept separate

This system also comes in 3 service plans. Unlike others, all these plans have unlimited talking minutes. More so their customer service will definitely impress you.

Each time you reach out to them they’ll immediately get back to you with detailed answers to all your queries.

Grasshopper Pricing

  • Solo Plan is $29 per month
  • Partner plan is $49 per month
  • A small business plan is $89 per month

Pros

  • This system sends a transcript and audio recording of voice mails
  • It’s easy to use and make changes
  • It keeps the cost of their services down
  • As compared to others it’s quite stable
  • It’s quite affordable

Cons

  • Your phone number is likely to be mistaken by another company
  • To transfer calls you’ve got to memorize all the extensions

3. Ooma

If you are looking for a business answering service specifically designed for small businesses, Ooma is the right choice.

Ooma - Best Business Answering Services

As compared to traditional cloud-hosted systems, this system combines cloud-based services with on-premises hardware.

The good thing is that even if you don’t have any technical experience you can install and start using it within minutes.

You just need to plug it in the base unit and connect it to high-speed internet. You’ll also be pleased with all its features.

Although it does not come with all the features that you need, you’ll enjoy using features such as voice mail services, call park, call log, extension to extension, and music on hold.

They will provide you with a virtual receptionist who’ll answer all the calls. Once she has received the calls she will direct you to the person or department you are trying to reach.

It also has virtual extensions for your workers, ring groups, and condense calling features.

Additionally, it has the best customer service and resources to help you troubleshoot any issue that you may be faced with.

Ooma Pricing

  • Ooma Office Plan is $19.95 per month
  • Ooma Office Pro Plan is $24.95 per month

Pros

  • As compared to others it’s quite affordable
  • It’s a portable answering service
  • It comes with lots of features
  • It has a traditional phone and fax service

Cons

  • Emergency calls can be a bit of an issue
  • Needs continuous supply of the internet

4. Specialty Answering Service (SAS)

This is perhaps the best small business answering service out there. Whether you are looking for outbound or inbound service this service has it all. As a scalable service, it takes care of all your needs.

Specialty Answering Service SAS - Best Business Answering Services

It has a California based contact center from where all calls are answered. Some of its round the clock answering services include bilingual support and appointment scheduling.

Their business operators will ensure that all your calls are answered 24/7. It also has an agent script in which you can change the way you want.

The agents will note down all the information about your callers, what they want, and then send you the message through text.

If you need some assistance facilitating the orders, the agents will help with eCommerce purchases.

They can also fill in and verify the payment information, cross-sell all your business products.

The agents will also help you know where the callers are in the buying stage so you know the kind of follow-up to make.

This is the best thing to do if you are looking for new business opportunities.

Apart from its range of plans, It comes with a 14-day free trial that you can try before making a buying decision.

SAS Pricing

  • Plan A plan is $31 base fee and $1.19 per minute
  • Plan B Plan is $117 base fee and $1.09 per minute
  • Plan C plan is $199 per month and $1.09 per minute
  • Plan D plan is $ 400 per month and 99 cents per minute
  • Plan E plan is $925 for 1000 minutes and 95 cents per minute average
  • Plan F plan is $2200 for 2500 minutes plus an 89 cents per minute average
  • Plan G plan is $4199 for 5000 minutes and 85 cents per minutes average
  • Plan H plan is$7749 for 10,000 minutes and 79 cents per minute average

Pros

  • It’s the best overall answering service
  • It has comprehensive pricing plan and extensive features
  • It has several years of experience of working  companies
  • It trains its agents on how to handle sensitive information

Cons

If you are on a tight budget the rates can be a bit expensive


5. PATLive

PATLive is another business answering software worth trying out. Based in Florida US, it constantly works with clients and tailors its services to meet their unique needs.

PATLive - Best Business Answering Services

It features a client’s portal where you can view your billing rates and calling volume. It also has all the features and gives you the flexibility to customize your script through the portal.

It has agents that are ever ready to answer your phone calls around the clock using the script that you provide.

When a follow up is needed they take the message on your behalf and then forward the same to you.

Plus, they will provide you with full order processing work, verify the payment and validate all the payment information

The client portal has data about the account. These include a number of incoming calls and even call duration that you should know.

It also comes with a fully-features 14 day trial period. Instead of charging you for the transfer time, you are only billed for the duration that the agents engage your customers.

Their services and features generally vary depending on the plans

PATLive Pricing

  • Basic plan is $39 [per month and $1.95 per phone number
  • Starter plan is $149 per month that includes 75 minute
  • Standard plan is $269 per month that includes 200 minutes
  • Premium plan is$399 per month that includes 350 minutes
  •  Pro plan is $629 per month that includes 600 minutes
  • Pro plus plan is $999 per month and includes 1000 minutes

Pros

  • It comes with a 14-day no-obligation trial
  •  The agents are connected on your behalf
  • It has a variety of plans that you can choose

Cons

Small businesses might find it a bit expensive


6. Voice Nation

If you are looking for answering service that’s available 24 hours then Voice Nation is the right choice.

Voice Nation - Best Business Answering Services

Apart from their live receptionists who can take care of all your calls and messages, it has several other services.

Some of these services include scheduling services, order processing, customizable scripting, and call patching.

It provides customer support through live chat, telephone, and web-based ticketing.

If you are budget conscious then it’s the right service for you because it does not charge any fee every time you call.

When it comes to Call overflow, the receptionists will take care of all your answering jobs. This is especially true when a phone line is already in use or your office lines are forwarded during lunch hour.

You can also configure the system and forward all your calls depending on your schedule.  Unlike others, you can schedule the receptionist’s time to ensure that the service is exactly what you need.

Its business plan allows you to register an unlimited number of users and gives you access to a premium number of users.

Plus, it’s perhaps the only service that allows you to create a disaster recovery plan so you don’t miss any calls even when there is a calamity.

Voice Nation Pricing

  • 30 for 30 plan is $30 per month for 30 monthly minutes
  • Business plan is $75 per month for 50 monthly minutes
  • Professional plan is $225 per month for 150 monthly minutes
  • Executive plan is $525 per month for 350 monthly minutes

Pros

  • It has some of the best services
  • It comes with different pricing options

Cons

Can be expensive for some small businesses


7. Abby Connect

Abby Connect refers to a live receptionist answering service that uses a dedicated team to help you with all your phone calls.

Abby Connect - Best Business Answering Services

This company is suitable for small law firms in Canada and the US who would prefer working with a small team of receptionists.

If your needs are constantly changing Abby Connect provides very flexible services that you’ll enjoy using.

It has live receptionists who enable you to use your own phone number. The availability of the receptionists varies. While some are available 24/7, others can only be found during business hours.

While they are known as virtual receptionists the person who takes care of your calls is a real human.

He/she will greet you before requesting for instructions and then passing all your messages.

For it to pass the information some receptions will make calls on your behalf including providing direction to your place of work, confirming appointments, and giving you referrals.

You can also use a different phone number to keep track of your clients or toll-free number to make it easier for guys to contact you.

In case you have high incoming call volume, they’ll provide you with overflow functionality to ensure that all your customers are connected.

Abby Connect Pricing

  • Abby 100 is $279 per month for 100 monthly minutes
  • Abby 200 is $499 per month for 200 monthly minutes
  • Abby 500 is $1089 per month for 500 minutes

Pros

  • Customer transfer music
  • Guaranteed and dedicated answering service
  • High-quality receptionist service
  • Quick services

Cons

Lacks appointment scheduling


8. PCMSI

PCMSI is the best low-cost answering service for small businesses. Coming with several tiered plans with rates as low as 55 cents, this service is a cost-effective solution for small businesses.

PCMSI - Best Business Answering Services

The agents will take care of all your calls through the office.

As one of the best companies, it offers several services including live answering, appointment scheduling, call transfers, lead capture, and order taking.

With its call transfer services, the agents can transfer the calls or connect you with the customers without placing them on hold.

They can also schedule appointments and ensure that your customers view them in real-time. Once you have new appointments your staff will get a notification through emails or text messages.

Apart from taking orders from your customers the agents will give detailed information and capture all their names and other information for future use.

Coming with level 1 help desk service they can provide basic technical support for both the software and service.

It also features four-tire services so you can always choose the right one for your needs.

PCMSI Pricing

  • Starter plan starts at $67 per month
  • Professional plans start at $285 per month
  • Business plan starts at $570 per month
  • Enterprise plans start at $1375 per month

Pros

  • It has a flexible pricing system that’s suitable for any business
  • Some plans have the lowest rates
  • It’s easy to use
  • It has the best customer service

Cons

Some of their optional add ons come at an extra fee


9. MAP Communications

Whether you are looking for help with your answering work or the best service for your business, MAP Communication is the right choice.

Map Communications - Best Business Answering Services

Featuring a team of the best US-based professional receptionists, they will provide you with 24/7 answering services.

Some of their features include appointment scheduling, call routing, and customized scripting.

With their experience in legal answering, you can rest assured that they will help you with criminal, immigration, trust, and real estate laws.

It also boasts customized call center solutions for a variety of practices including veterinarians, pediatricians, chirographers, and plastic surgeons.

Since it provides your prospects and customers with the best virtual receptionists you can always focus on growing your business.

Once you install it, you can comfortably compete with any medium to large-sized business. By availing itself it will provide you with a chance to improve your expertise.

If you are looking for powerful customized scripts, this service is for you. besides, it has the right framework to ensure that all your callers experience the best customer service.

MAP Communications Pricing

  • Standard plan starts at $39 per month
  • Business plan starts at $149 per month
  • Executive plan starts at $249 per month

Pros

  • 24/7 live answering services including holidays
  • Best in class call overflow service
  • Customizable service for your business
  • It has multiple locations for speedy answering
  • Minimum plans start very low

Cons

  • Live call transferring is very expensive
  • No custom hold music

10. Davinci

Davinci is an answering service that features standard routing and answering functionality. Created by Davinci employees, it’s the best tool for generating and closing leads.

Davinci - Best Business Answering Services

If you require help with your telephony operations or just want to outhouse your sales work, this is the right service for you.

Its work is to create innovative solutions for all types of businesses.

Some of its services include call appointments, call forwarding, screening, order processing, online faxing, voice mail management, and conference calls.

It will ensure that all your customers speak to a real person every time they call your company. Since it provides two freephone numbers you can decide whether it’s local or toll-free numbers.

If you have an existing number you can forward them this at no additional cost.

Unlike other services, it has four basic packages that you can select based on your needs.

If you choose either a business or premium plan you can enjoy voice mail management, call answering, audio conferencing, and call routing.

Its premium plan also has a bilingual receptionist and even additional call overflows. If you are web-based you should go for its Live Web Based chat package.

Davinci Pricing

  • Business 50 is $99 per month
  • Business 100 is $239 per month
  • Premium 50 is $249 per month
  • Premium 100 is 319 per month

Pros

  • It comes with outbound call support
  • It’s quite easy to use
  • Online fax capabilities

Cons

  • Can be a bit expensive
  • Complex compliance requirements

11. BPO American

BPO American is probably the best customizable answering service providing both call center and answering services.

BPO American - Best Business Answering Services

As compared to call center services, answering services are specialized services. This is perhaps the main difference between the two.

Featuring up to 6 different pricing plans, it not only caters to carious call volumes but can also take care of customized packages for different clients.

It also provides an easy to use instant activation service with a tool that you can use to build a script based on the questions that the clients frequently ask.

You can get other services such as live web chat, appointment setting, and order taking. With their instant activation option once you install it you are good to go.

Further, it provides 24/7 live answering by agents who use the details you’ve provided to answer many basic questions, transfer calls, capture all caller information and take messages on your behalf.

Additionally, you can use its lead capture feature to obtain the lead information and even change the questions depending on what you are looking for.

BPO American Pricing

  • Plan A is $29 per month and includes up to 25 minutes in text messages
  • Plan B is $89 per month and includes 75 minutes
  • Plan C is $109 per month and includes 100 minutes
  • Plan D is $139 per month and includes 125 minutes
  • Plan E is $229 per month and includes 250 minutes
  • Plan F is $369 per month and includes 250 minutes

Pros

  • Once you install you can start using it
  • You don’t pay any setup fee
  • They have the most responsive agents
  • Offers a range of plans to choose from

Cons

A live chat feature is not included


12. XACT

Regardless of the size of your business, XACT comes with a range of call center and answering services for your business needs.

XACT - Best Business Answering Services

Since it has different types of plans you can either opt for dedicated or shared agents.

Examples of their services include help desks customer service, appointment scheduling, email management, and hotlines among others.

Unlike others, it’s a flexible call center and answering service. It’s also moderately priced and includes both dedicated and shared agents.

Although dedicated agents cost more, they provide go off script and more advanced services for businesses. If you have low call volumes and more basic needs then shared agents are the best for you.

Apart from answering services, it provides inbound and outbound call center services.

Through these services, it offers more including a follow up over emails, clients’ communication needs, and web channels.

Plus, its customer care services involve fielding complaints and providing feedback, answering frequently asked questions, and ensuring there is customer satisfaction.

Finally, it provides live operator answering services, message taking, appointment setting, and order taking services.

XACT Pricing

  • Shared Agents price starts at 89 cents per minutes for between 2500 to 10,000 minutes
  • Dedicated Agents price starts at $26.95 per agent per hour

Pros

  • It provides inbound and outbound call center services
  • It has one of the best customer care services
  • Agents can manage several hotlines on your behalf
  • It provided web chat services

Cons

Shared agents only provide basic services


13. Ruby Receptionist

Ruby Receptionist is answering services that can take calls, take messages, greet callers, and even direct their calls.

Ruby - Best Business Answering Services

If you are solopreneur or you need a virtual business phone number with a professional answering service this service will not disappoint you.

As compared to others, it features a customized frequently asked question together with an intake form module. This means most of your queries are answered in their FAQs.

It also allows you to choose between seven different types of hold music options and provides you with a chance to upload your own hold music as well.

Through its live receptionists, all your calls can be answered from 5 a.m to 9 p.m.

By greeting your customers cheerfully and professionally, they give them the impression that they’re dealing with a big company.

Its main goal is to create meaningful and real connections with your customers and, build trust with them and boost your business needs.

They can make outbound calls to pass information or even confirm appointments. To start out with them you can either be given a toll-free number or forward any number.

When you’ve received a new call log you’ll get email alerts, track your usage, and real-time call reports.

Though it’s a modern technology it has professional, friendly and old fashioned receptionists.

Ruby Receptionist Pricing

  • Ruby 100 is $309 per month for100 monthly receptionist
  • Ruby 200 is $589 per month for 200 monthly receptionists
  • Ruby 500 is $1369 per month for 500 monthly receptionists

Pros

  • It provides customized FAQs
  • Gives you a choice of hold music
  • All plans come with a bilingual assistant

Cons

Does not support call overflow


Selecting the Best Answering Service

1. Cultural Fit

When looking for the best small business answering service, make sure you choose one that fits your business culture.

Know what you are looking for and check out whether the service will provide you with that. Some of the things to ask you include

  • The kind of service you are looking for
  • What they do when the customer is on hold
  • How they greet the caller
  • The kind of hold music they have

2. 24/7 Service

If you are in business you understand that reliability is very important. You should, therefore, choose a service that will answer all your calls 24/7.

Even if you are in the office, your customers should have someone they can contact for any query or information.

The right service should also vet every caller and verify whether the call is urgent or not. Depending on what your business does, there are several things that service can help you with.

3. Call Volume

When it comes to choosing the right service knowing the call volume is very important. If your call volume is likely to increase due to some factors, the best service should offer a flat rate.

You should also ensure that your service level is not only comprehensive but also quality so your customers can get the best.

More so, you should have ways of continuously reviewing and auditing the calls.

4. Emergency Backup

One of the worst times to keep in touch with your clients is during an emergency.

With this in mind, the right answering service should be equipped with an emergency backup plan so you don’t lose any call during this time.

It should also be able to redirect your calls to another location during this time.

5. Get Referrals

If you have a variety of companies to choose from, ask them for between 3 and 5 referrals.

If they cannot provide you with the right referrals then probably they aren’t the right ones.

Once you have this, get in touch with them and inquire whether you are dealing with the right company. There are services that can just sign you in and forget about you.

While they might provide you with answering service reaching the management or reporting any complaints might be hard.

6. Monthly Reporting

A good answering service should offer monthly reporting so you know all about your customers. These should include aspects such as

  • Types of calls received
  • Number of calls
  • The time of each call

This information will help you know the kind of service to give your clients. For instance, you may decide whether you should engage a dedicated agent or not.

You may also know whether your company needs a live receptionist in the morning or afternoon.

7. Supports Personal Visit

This is one of the best ways to confirm whether the service is the best or not. A good company should support an in-person visit.

You can tell a lot about the company by checking in and chatting with the guys who’ll take care of your calls.

While most companies may have an impressive website, they can be totally different when you meet them face to face. So ensure that you stop by and ask them questions.

If it’s a remote company, request for Facetime or video meeting. Since these people will be the face of your company knowing them is very important.

8. Right Price

While looking for the best answering service, ensure that you are getting the best offer. All its plans should be spelled out in the contract.

For instance, if you are paying by the minute, the company should not charge you if you’ve only used a few seconds.

If the company does this it’s important to know this before opting in.  Your bill should include how long the calls lasted, their number, and the amount of money you are paying for.

9. Know Where Your Calls Go

It’s also important to know where your calls go. Are your calls spread or directed to one location. When your calls are directed to different locations there are high chances of mistakes.

Even if the other locations are part of the company, they may not know about your clients. Diverting calls may encourage delays, mistakes, and poor customer service.

10. Handling Customers’ Language

The best service should be bilingual. For instance, if a large number of your customers speak Spanish your service should be able to help them.

If they are speaking the same language as your customers then your customers will not only feel comfortable but also clearly pass the information.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kind of business can benefit from a good answering service?

All businesses whether small or big can benefit from the right answering service.

Given that communicating with your customers and answering their calls is very important, this is a service that you cannot ignore.

2. What is a virtual receptionist?

Just like a regular receptionist, a virtual receptionist takes care of all your business calls. The only difference is that they are not in the place as you.

Typically, they can do all the tasks that others do including placing orders, taking calls, taking messages, and transferring calls.

3. Do I have to sign up for a long term contract with answering service?

In most instances, it all depends on the company that you are dealing with. While some of them prefer long term contact others prefer paying for the service on a month to month basis.

4. Once I sign up can I start using the service immediately?

Absolutely yes. If you choose a good company you’ll get all the directions that you need to start using one immediately. So, the next thing to do is to pay for the service and you are good to go.

5. How will small business answering service answer my calls?

There are a number of ways that they can answer your calls. For instance, they may ask “how can I help you” or “hello and thank you for calling”

While having a generic way of answering a call is good you should keep in mind that every office has a different experience.

6. How does an answering service go about answering your calls?

Once you’ve signed up to answering service you are likely to speak with a specialist and explain everything concerning your business and what you are looking for in service.

They will take you through the process and then update your account based on your requirements.

Once they are through they will use that script when answering your customer calls.

7. How do I get the messages from my customers?

Most answering services deliver the messages via email, fax, MI secure, and text messaging services. You, therefore, need to choose any of these combinations.

For instance, if a message is sent through your mobile phone you can retrieve it and check it in the email the next morning.

Also, depending on your account set up you can choose different types of protocols for different messages. You can decide that some messages are sent via email while others are sent through text.

8. How quickly does answering service answer my call?

Most answering services will ensure that they answer the calls as soon as possible. In fact, the more the calls can go is four rings.

While some might put you in the queue they will inform you that an agent will come on board momentarily.

One thing that sets them apart is that they do not charge you for the time you are put on hold.

9. What is the right answering service for my business?

While there are a number of services out there choosing the best can be challenging. First, you need to know your needs.

Once you’ve done this, you should figure out how you are going to look for one. Since most services will provide a free trial you can use this to check out what’s good or not good for you.


Wrapping Up

Since they effectively handle all the incoming calls answering services are very important for any business.

They help small businesses answer all their customer calls, chats, and take care of all the outbound calls.

When looking for one, consider all your needs, ask for referrals, and compare all the options.