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Answering Service

As all successful business leaders know, communication is the beating heart of a company. And having a stellar administrative staff to manage your communication channels is essential to providing good customer service. But 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 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 third-party providers who answer calls and can handle other customer service jobs for a 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 answering service 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 answering 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.

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.

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 Interactive Voice Response (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, Authorize.net, 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.

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. Answering services don’t have to break the bank. In fact, they are much more affordable than hiring an in-house receptionist. According to Zip Recruiter, the majority of monthly receptionist salaries range between $2,083 to $2,875 across the United States. It’s also worth noting that paying for medical insurance, accounting for sick days, no ability to work 24/7, and planning for paid time off all add to the cost of hiring a conventional receptionist. Now compare that to Answering Service Care’s pricing. Answering Service Care’s pro plan costs $289 a month (at the time this blog was published) and comes with a host of features including:
In the end, quality answering services aren’t free, but they’re always worth the investment.
Answering Service Growth

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. But 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!

Getting 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 answering services and how they can work for your business, feel free to schedule a meeting or get started for as little as $25 per-month.