How Do I Select the Best Answering Service Company?

When business owners and managers want to start or switch telephone answering services, they’ll often ask the same question: how much do answering services charge? Asking about rates is the first question most people make when inquiring about using a telephone answering service.

Basic Answering Service Charges

Most answering services in business today follow a common industry practice when it comes to rates. When you ask, “How much do answering services charge?” you’ll hear three numbers in response.

The first number is the recurring base rate. This fixed amount appears on each invoice and provides the answering service with needed funds to support their infrastructure and be ready and available to take your calls whenever you need them, 24/7.

The second number is the amount of work included in the base rate. This is usually a specified number of minutes of work that they’ll do for you each billing period at no extra charge.

The third number is the cost for any additional units of work that surpass what the base rate includes. Again, this is usually a certain number of cents per minute for additional time.

Most every answering service follows this basic pattern, with many who offer multiple rate plan options to select from based on how much you need them to do. Simply estimate how much work you need them to do for you and pick the plan that most closely includes your estimated time, without going over it.

This is the type of response you can expect to receive when you ask, “How much do answering services charge?”

Quality Matters More

Though the specifics of each answering service’s rate plan vary from provider to provider, most are quite comparable to each other, with the cost difference from one to another not being that significant.

A more important consideration than price, however, is quality.

When you acquire about using an answering service, don’t ask them about the prices, ask them about their quality. Why is this important?

Quite simply because your customers don’t care about what your answering service costs, but they care very much about the quality they receive when they do call.

That’s why you should never shop for an answering service based on price. Being able to save 5 or 10 percent on each invoice, matters little if an answering service cuts corners and doesn’t treat your callers with the respect and professionalism they deserve.

Responsiveness Is Key

Aside from quality, another consideration is responsiveness. This is being responsive to your callers and responsive to you.

When your callers phone you, does your answering service answer promptly? An average of within three rings should be standard and under five rings should be the goal. But understaffed answering services struggle to achieve this. Don’t subject your callers to an unresponsive answering service.

And when you call your answering service, are they responsive to you? Saving a dollar or two a week and ending up with an unresponsive answering service that makes you hold or ignores you is no bargain. It’s actually quite costly.

Aim for Ideal Outcomes

Third, consider the outcomes you want to achieve from your answering service. You want appreciative customers who feel respected and heard. You want employees who enjoy working with your answering service.

To achieve this, stop wondering how much do answering services charge and start exploring their quality, responsiveness, and outcomes. Then you can ask about rates, but not until you’re assured they can provide the first three elements.

The Challenge of Choosing the Right Answering Service

The question of how to select the best answering service company is a concern that many astute business owners and managers struggle with. The unknown outcome is a fear that plagues many. While you can’t guarantee success, you can tip the balance in your favor by following these helpful tips.

The Core Traits: What To Look For Initially

Seek These Big Three Traits

When you look for an answering service provider, there are three key qualifications that your choice should have.

  1. A long history of success under the same ownership and management.
  2. Direct day-to-day owner involvement.
  3. An independent operation that isn’t part of a large network of centrally controlled services.

The Monetary Aspect: Understanding Costs

Study and Understand Their Fees

Too many answering services have complicated rate plans. Ensure you understand their charges before proceeding.

Avoid Contracts

Contracts work against you. Establish a collaboration instead of entering into a legal commitment.

Language Matters: Communication is Key

Bilingual Answering Service Staff

With Spanish being the second most common language in the United States, a bilingual answering service is often necessary.

Customer Retention: How an Answering Service Helps

The Power of Instant Response

Answering services can significantly improve customer retention by offering instant responses to inquiries. Customers appreciate quick and efficient service, which ultimately fosters loyalty.

Personalized Services

Sophisticated answering services can be customized to meet the specific requirements of your customers, making them feel valued and well-served.

Gaining New Business

24/7 Availability

Having a 24/7 answering service ensures that you capture every potential lead. Time zones and busy schedules can often lead to missed calls; an answering service mitigates this risk.

First Impression Counts

The first interaction a prospective customer has with your business often shapes their perception of your brand. A professional answering service ensures that the first impression is a positive one.

The Importance of Answering Service

Be There When They Call

In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect instant solutions. An answering service makes sure you’re always available, hence boosting your brand’s reputation.

Features to Look For

AI Capabilities

Artificial Intelligence can filter and categorize calls, making the process more efficient.

Call Recording

This feature is essential for quality control and training purposes.

Cost Considerations

Hidden Costs

Always check for hidden costs like setup fees or charges for additional services.

Package Deals

Many companies offer bundle deals which can be more cost-effective.

Evaluating Different Providers

Reviews and Testimonials

Check reviews and ask for client testimonials to gauge the quality of services.

Free Trials

Many companies offer free trials. This is a risk-free way to evaluate the services.

Implementing the Service

Staff Training

Ensure that your staff knows how to collaborate with the answering service for seamless operations.

Continuous Monitoring

Track key metrics to assess the performance of your answering service regularly.


Q: How long does it take to implement an answering service?

A: Most services can be set up within 24-48 hours.

Q: Can I update my script anytime?

A: Yes, most services allow on-the-fly updates.

Q: How are calls forwarded?

A: Calls can usually be forwarded through a simple setting in your phone system.

Contact us today to learn more about our call answering service options. And yes, after we talk about quality, responsiveness, and outcomes, feel free to ask, “How much do answering services charge?