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Answering Service

As all successful business leaders know, communication is the beating heart of a company. Having a stellar administrative staff to manage your communication channels is essential to providing good customer service. However, rockstar receptionist talent is hard to find and costly to retain. For these reasons and more, many businesses seek out answering service solutions. These call answering solutions provide reliable, 24/7 customer service without costly overhead. Answering services benefit not just large businesses, but small- to medium-sized ones as well—particularly those with tighter budgets.

However, answering service features and offerings vary between providers, leaving many business owners lost as they explore their options. To help clear things up, Answering Service Care created this content to address commonly asked questions like:

What Is an Answering Service Company?

Answering service companies are a third-party commercial service that answers telephone calls for its clients as an extension of their business. Oftentimes this involves taking care of communication tasks so you and your employees can focus on critical business matters without sacrificing customer relations. Some basic features of all answering service for a small business, medium business, or large enterprise solutions include:

Going Beyond the Basics of Answering Services

Although this concept is fairly straightforward, there is more to answering services than meets the eye. For starters, answering service solutions vary greatly in their capabilities and offerings. Depending on what kind of solution you choose, answering services can offer a range of communication functionalities. A high-quality answering service, for example, goes beyond the basics to provide comprehensive solutions for their customers. These more established service providers employ experienced call operators who can:

Customer Experience Skills

Use their hard and soft skills to give every customer the best experience possible. This improves customer satisfaction, reduces churn, and helps maintain a positive brand image.

Customer-Centric Satisfaction

Take a customer-centric approach to ensure that every customer feels heard, respected, and prioritized. This is especially important when managing customer complaints and answering questions.

How Does a Call Answering Service Work?

A professional call answering service is a valuable resource for any business that receives a high volume of calls and wants to ensure that each caller’s inquiries are answered promptly by a friendly operator. The best call answering services for small business offer many different solutions for businesses looking to outsource their call handling. For example, three of the most important tasks an answering service operator does include:

To put it simply, answering services streamline the communication process for businesses through efficient message taking, coordinated appointment scheduling, and valuable high-volume call support. They guarantee that every caller’s message is properly recorded and delivered, enabling quick resolutions and maintaining—or even boosting—overall customer satisfaction. But what are other benefits of answering services?

image: answering service operator
Business woman on a phone call.

What Is the Difference Between an Answering Service and an Answering Machine?

There are several key differences between a comprehensive answering service and a regular answering machine. For starters, an answering machine is designed for a single task: recording messages. Live call operators, on the other hand, have the ability to receive inbound calls, make outbound calls, make customers feel at ease, and use various tools—like SMS messaging or live chat features—to communicate with customers outside of phone calls.

Another distinction is that answering machines are impersonal and ill-equipped to handle complex issues. If a customer calls with a question or a concern, immediately encountering an answering machine is likely to leave a bad impression. Conversely, a live call operator is able to problem solve, mitigate tense situations, answer complicated questions, and so on.

Why Do You Need an Answering Service?

Using an answering service offers businesses many advantages including streamlined communication and cost savings. Aside from these high-level benefits, here are a few other reasons why answering services are a good business decision.

When customers call your place of work, it is often their first time interacting with your brand. A good call experience helps build trust, while a poor call experience could sour that customer’s opinion of your business forever, especially if no one picked up the phone. Leaving phones unanswered does more than frustrate customers, it makes them feel unimportant.

In contrast, having a trained team of remote call agents ensures that no calls are missed and no customers are disappointed. For example, if phone lines are down in your area, a remote answering service team can still interact with customers, explain the situation, take their messages, and troubleshoot concerns while your business is offline.

One of the main goals of an answering service partner is to ensure that your business maintains strong customer relations without taking away from other important tasks. There is no denying that customer calls are important, but it’s impossible to handle every single one when you’re trying to run a business. If you are in a meeting or working on a project with a tight deadline, a constant influx of calls is an unwanted distraction.

As an extension of your team, answering service professionals are able to prioritize and manage customer communication to ensure alignment with your existing protocols and business needs. This involves taking messages, blocking spam calls, and relaying information in a timely manner.

Finding highly trained and experienced receptionists can be difficult, especially in the medical and legal fields. Painstakingly combing through resumes and scheduling interviews takes a lot of time and energy. Plus, extensive onboarding for your new hire requires even more effort on your part. Answering services come with teams of qualified and experienced live agents who can hit the ground running, with no extra onboarding or hand-holding required. Lastly, turnover is an obvious concern when hiring an in-house receptionist. With an answering service, you’ll have consistent assistance from your remote call team for as long as you need.

Oftentimes, customers need to contact your business outside of operating hours. Answering services come with dedicated teams of call operators who enable 24/7 access to your business—ensuring your customers receive the care they need, whenever they need it. This is crucial when connecting with customers or clients in different time zones.

In the fast-paced modern business world, customers increasingly expect top-tier service and instant gratification. Having a 24-hour live answering service, seven days a week keeps you connected to your customers and helps you retain a competitive edge.

It is a well-known fact that missing calls and chats will ruin a brand’s reputation. With an answering service, this is never an issue. Each call will be answered quickly and professionally, ensuring that customers feel valued and cared for. This helps companies build strong relationships with prospects and strengthens the loyalty of their existing customers.

How Does a Virtual Answering Service Work?

There are two sides to most answering service solutions: live agents and automated tools.

Live Chat Agent

Remote Live Agents Benefits

Remote live agents perform all of the same duties as traditional receptionists. The only differences are that they do not work in your office and are not under your direct employment. Although in-house receptionists are a great solution for face-to-face interactions in your office, they are more expensive to hire and require time-intensive onboarding. Additionally, if you already employ an in-person receptionist, they could benefit from the support of a remote team that’s ready to jump in when workloads become unmanageable.

Experienced Remote Call Agents

Remote call agents are well-educated and often have years of experience—in some cases you can request operators with a specific background in your industry. Like an in-house receptionist, these remote professionals are dedicated to providing excellent service for your customers and are committed to their jobs.

Aside from remote call agents, answering services often come with extensive automated service features to supplement live call solutions and make things more efficient.

Answering Service Care offers many beneficial automated add-ons including:

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Answering Service Care’s automated IVR system interacts with callers when they first contact your business and helps guide them to the appropriate individual, department, or outside lines. Push 1 for service or 2 for sales.

Spam Blocker

Few things are more disruptive and cumbersome than spam and robo calls. One report found that around 228 million robo calls were made every day in 2021. All of these unwanted calls drive up your phone bill, disrupt your work day, and waste valuable time. Recognizing this issue, Answering Service Care created an automated spam call blocker. This spam blocker “traps” robot callers using IVR technology, reducing the number of robocalls reaching live receptionists. With this automated system, you’ll never have to take another unwanted call again.

Email Marketing

Managing customer relationships doesn’t stop after you hang up the phone. To provide truly comprehensive customer service, follow-up emails are a must. Using Answering Service Care’s email solution, an email is automatically generated and sent to the customer as soon as the service agent ends their call. These emails can include any kind of valuable information like training videos, FAQs, promotional materials, surveys, and more.

Payment IVR

Having a payment IVR solution enables companies to easily integrate with any payment gateway. Our system is easy to use, PCI compliant, and accepts all major types of credit card. Payment IVR comes with many benefits including cost savings, 24/7 service, and improved security. Lastly, our IVR is capable of seamlessly integrating with Stripe,, and Fiserv.

Live Support

Do People Still Use Answering Services?

Even though answering services are not new, they have remained consistently popular throughout the years. According to Market Research, the telephone answering services industry in the U.S. averaged an annual growth of 6.7% to reach $2.7 billion in revenue in 2019, and business has continued to accelerate since then. Presently, businesses across multiple industries continue to rely on telephone answering services to boost their communication efforts and navigate emerging challenges.

What Businesses Use an Answering Service?

Select Your Industries to Learn More

Although answering services are useful in most industries, these solutions have been regularly adopted by businesses in the following sectors:

In healthcare, a missed call could have dire consequences. But with ongoing staffing shortages, medical facilities are busier than ever, making it even more difficult to manage a high volume of patients and phone calls. It’s also worth noting that telehealth has become much more popular in recent years, making  telemedicine answering services a critical service for medical practitioners. Answering Service Care provides HIPAA-compliant, 24/7 answering services for all types of medical offices and practices.  From simple patient inquiries to medical emergencies, Answering Service Care’s staff is trained to handle any situation with professionalism, empathy, and dedication. We offer extensive benefit to all of our medical clients, including:

  • Compliant and secure messaging
  • Appointment scheduling
  • IVR technology

All contractors know a missed call could mean a missed opportunity. But it’s impossible for contractors and their teams to constantly be near the phone. An answering service ensures customers’ calls won’t fall by the wayside while contractors are out on a job. Additionally, having an answering service that provides bilingual agents is especially useful in the home services industry. For example, 35.2 percent of all workers in the landscape and lawn care services industry. Having access to professional bilingual call agents makes it easy to communicate with all of your employees and improves their experience at work!

Answering Service Care can work with all kinds of home services including, but not limited to:

  • Landscaping
  • Cleaning services
  • Construction companies
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC

From small practices to corporate law firms, all legal professionals deal with a significant number of calls each day. Although this means business is booming, it can also be a distraction from other important tasks, particularly when attorneys are in and out of the office working on a case. A legal answering service can take care of appointment scheduling or transfer emergency client calls directly to an attorney. The Answering Service Care attorney service adapts to each legal office’s unique workflow with a heavy emphasis on discretion and confidentiality. We work with various types of law practices including:

  • Personal Injury law
  • Criminal law
  • Bankruptcy law
  • Family law
  • Real Estate law
  • Employment law
  • Social Security Disability law
  • Corporate law
  • Elder law
  • Construction law

From property visits to setting up showings, real estate agents are constantly being pulled in different directions. In a fast-paced industry like real estate, staying connected is vital to getting ahead and remaining competitive. An answering service helps real estate professionals stay on track and keeps communications organized. At Answering Service Care, we adapt to real estate agents’ unique workflows and take on all time-sensitive communications so no opportunity is overlooked. Our U.S.-based  call agents are available to represent your business 24/7 and can work with various areas of real estate including: 

  • Property management
  • Homeowners associations
  • Real estate agencies

Although this field is very broad, all consulting firms have the same fundamental challenges—and answering client phone calls is one of them. This is especially true for boutique consulting firms with smaller teams. A consulting answering service solution helps consultants stay on track with all urgent and non-urgent client needs. The Answering Service Care consulting team serves a variety of fields including:

  • Tech support and consulting
  • Software development
  • Private investigating
  • Security consulting
  • Management consulting
  • Business consulting
  • Scientific consulting

Because beauty and wellness professionals are on their feet, serving customers face-to-face most of the day, getting to the phone or even answering a backlog of messages can be quite difficult. Answering services for the wellness industry relieves some of the stress and pressure so wellness professionals can do what they do best: make people feel better. With the Answering Service Care solution, remote wellness call agents handle appointment scheduling, notify teams when customers cancel, take messages, and so much more.

Financial professionals have their hands full juggling client portfolios and managing their own books, making it inconvenient for them to answer every call throughout the day. However, in-house receptionists for financial offices can face significant downtime, especially for smaller offices with only a few portfolios to manage. This, inevitably, strains the company budget. So, where is the happy medium? An answering service for financial and accounting institutions costs a fraction of a full-time employee and provides the same quality service. The Answering Service Care finance team specializes in various financial sectors including:

  • CPAs
  • Financial advisors
  • Banking and lending
  • Tax professionals
  • Private equity
  • Wealth management

In the insurance field, handling urgent issues is part of the job. But as calls increase, the harder it is to keep up with claims and client meetings. With an affordable answering service option, insurance professionals can maintain strong client relationships without placing undue stress on themselves. Answering Service Care’s live team can take messages, forward calls to the appropriate party, and ensure the most urgent calls reach insurance agents at the right time.

In the education realm, teachers, parents, students, and administrators all need special attention. Additionally, navigating complex phone trees and directing callers to the right department or classroom can be a nightmare. A remote answering service team uses automated features to ensure all schools and educational institutions can handle large volumes of calls while maintaining quality customer service. Answering Service Care works with a variety of educational sectors including:

  • Educational transportation
  • Secondary schools
  • Trade schools
  • Universities

Funerary services must be available 24/7 to handle delicate and urgent situations with compassion and grace. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral home serves 113 families per year and has seven employees. Considering how small most funeral home operations are, many have chosen to partner with answering services. Answering Service Care’s team is trained to handle sensitive situations and give people the information and care they need to make tough decisions throughout the funeral process.

What Is the Point of an Answering Service?

Let’s get down to brass tacks: an answering service helps any business, no matter the industry or size, by answering their calls and providing exceptional customer service. Using an answering service is important, because it guarantees that all calls will be answered in a timely manner, improving customer service and reducing the risk of missed opportunities. No business wants to lose a customer because their service wasn’t adequate. Answering services can also help companies focus on the most important business operations while keeping in consistent communication with customers. Plus operators can manage schedules, call routing, and take messages. They do all of this at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house receptionist.

What Does an Answering Service Agent Do?

When it comes to taking calls and assisting customers, a specialty answering service employee can make all the difference for a small business. In general, a call answering service manages all of the calls you receive from your customers. That means they are representing your business from the second they pick up the phone until they’ve successfully helped your customers. They do this by following personalized scripts or protocols to assist callers with their inquiries, take messages, or schedule appointments. Business phone answering services also handle all of your calls during both business hours and after hours so that no calls are missed. 

Let’s dive in a bit further to how an answering service agent helps your business. Here are three key duties performed by an operator in an answering service:

When it comes down to it, answering service agents are invaluable to businesses because of how well they handle all of your calls—which means your customers receive unparalleled service without sacrificing your time. Their ability to take and relay messages reliably is critical to maintaining thorough records, providing prompt service to customers, and avoiding a loss of business. Plus they help companies continue a smooth running of operations and prevent scheduling conflicts that can have a negative effect on both productivity and customer satisfaction.

Live Chat Agent
Image: phone operator

How Should an Answering Service Answer the Phone?

As with any employee answering phone calls for your business, an answering service will handle all of your calls as a friendly and professional extension of your team. An answering service isn’t like a typical call center experience, where customers have long wait times and receive mediocre (or terrible) customer service. With an answering service, your customers are not just another number being cycled through as quickly as possible. 

In fact, answering services, like Answering Service Care, are dedicated to providing the best service—and with industry-specific training the operators can actually help with your customers’ needs. We provide the best-in-class service to all of our customers, because your business’s success is of the utmost importance. 

Can AI Answer Phone Calls for Businesses?

Yes, AI can answer phone calls—and programmers tried really hard to make them as human-like as possible, but they just don’t cut it. To put it bluntly, AI simply cannot replace live human operators. While customers can respond verbally and get a response from the AI answering service, it’s still more likely that they will receive poor customer service—or not have their inquiries answered at all, especially in urgent situations. 

We’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to get to a real person that can understand the nuance of a customer’s situation. Those experiences can negatively reflect on a business, and poor customer service leads 70% of customers to take their business elsewhere. Generally, it’s always best to avoid automated answering services for small business and instead give your customers top-notch service from an empathetic human operator.

Image: phone operator
Answering Service Growth

How Much Does an Answering Service Cost?

The actual cost of an answering service varies from provider to provider. Although free virtual answering service options are available, they usually aren’t equipped to serve businesses effectively. Many free options make big promises, but the reality is that a cheap answering service won’t give your customers the quality care they deserve. This is especially true for businesses with sensitive and complex needs like the medical, legal, and funerary industries. 

Of course, one of the main worries for businesses looking to hire a phone service is the answering service cost per month and if it is different than after hours answering service cost—especially compared to an in-house receptionist. First and foremost, the most reputable answering services, like Answering Service Care, don’t distinguish between operational hours and after hours call answering. In fact, we are available 24/7/365 and charge a monthly fee based on the amount of minutes your business uses, not the time at which we get the call.

Here are the packages we offer our customers, so you can decide the best fit for your business:

Starter Plan

Do you have a really low call volume that doesn’t justify buying a lot of minutes, or maybe you only want calls answered after hours? Our Starter Plan starts at $25/month. You get as many minutes as you need at $1.55/minute, plus many other benefits, like bilingual operators and personalized greetings.

Small Business Plan

Are you a small business that gets a reasonable, smaller amount of calls? Our Small Business Plan is $169/month, which includes 100 minutes, plus additional time at $1.52/minute. You get all of the perks of the Starter Plan, plus a dedicated account manager and the ability to connect with customers via live chat.

Pro Plan

Do you have a higher call volume for your small- or medium-sized business? Our Pro Plan offers 250 minutes, plus $1.43 per additional minute, all at the low cost of $289/month. Plus you get additional benefits, such as a spam blocker and call recording.

Enterprise Plan

Are you an enterprise business looking to maximize your call handling abilities? Our Enterprise Plan offers 500 minutes, plus $1.19 per additional minute, for a monthly cost of $599. The additional perks of the Enterprise Plan include appointment setting and a software integration—like your CRM or scheduling software.

How Much Does a Receptionist Make a Month?

According to Glassdoor and, the average receptionist in the United States makes between $32k and $43k a year. That means businesses can spend up to $3500 a month on salary alone—not including training, benefits, and any turnover that might occur. Compared to the most comprehensive answering service plan, that’s nearly a $3000/month difference and you get less availability, higher overhead, and higher labor costs.

What Is the Best 800 Number Service?

If you’re looking for a 1(800)—or local phone number—the best 1(800) answering service provider is Answering Service Care. At Answering Service Care, we offer numbers in virtually any area code. Because of our ability to get your business a number with almost any area code, you’ll always be accessible to your customers, whether it’s local or toll free.  How much does it cost to set up an 800 number with Answering Service Care? The same as our standard pricing (listed above). 

Once you sign up with our service, you can forward your phone calls to a 1(800) number—or an area code near you—without any extra charge to you. Not only can you get your desired number with Answering Service Care—the best 800 number service for small business, medium business, and large enterprises—but we can help your business reduce overhead and give customers excellent customer service too.

Image: Lawyer on phone

When Should a Business Hire an Answering Service?

A business should consider hiring an answering service under several circumstances:

Overall, the decision to use an answering service should be made after careful consideration of your company’s requirements, resources, and objectives.

How Do I Choose an Answering Service?

The best live answering service is one that works for your business and provides the features you need to stay successful. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to tell what service is right for you. Here are a few key questions to ask before you select an answering service partner.

Answering Service Provider Evaluation Checklist

Is this service established and experienced?

We have been in the business for nearly 50 years and have over 4000 customers who trust our services. And every year we keep learning more and getting better.

Does this service hire quality people?

Everyone on our team cares deeply about the service they provide and wants to help our clients succeed. Our professional call agents are specifically trained to handle calls/chats for a specific industry group and work closely with you to understand your unique workflows and specifications to effectively become an extension of your business.

Does this service offer 24/7 coverage?

Around-the-clock and reliable agents are a must when considering any answering service provider. Otherwise, you might as well pay for an in-house receptionist. We’re available for you 24/7/365 to handle all of your client calls, no matter when they happen.

Does this service offer a reasonable refund?

Answering Service Care provides a 21-day money-back guarantee for our services.

Are bilingual agents provided?

According to Forbes, the U.S has the second largest population of Spanish speakers, with 13 percent of the population speaking Spanish at home. If your business wants to offer better service to all people, you should consider a provider with Spanish-speaking call agents. Our customizable bilingual services allow you to serve all customers at a fraction of the cost of in-house professionals.

Do they offer helpful automated features?

Many answering services rely on technology either too much or too little. Answering Service Care strikes an appropriate balance between human and digital assistance. We hire talented operators and also provide a comprehensive list of modern features to help you streamline your communication operations!

A New Caller Experience is Just a Click Away

Whether you’ve been in business for two months or fifty years, a telephone answering service saves you time and helps reinforce a positive image for your brand. If you would like to learn more about, feel free to schedule a meeting or get started for as little as $25 per-month.