Many businesses try to find an answering service for their business. They are looking for professionals to answer their business phone calls. So, they are often looking for phone answering service pricing or answering service providers.
There are different types of answering services out there, and there are many answering service plans. In this article, we’ll share the difference between the answering services, factors that affect the cost of an answering service, how to choose a service provider, and discuss the pricing model of answering service companies.
Understanding the Different Types of Answering Services
Sometimes, a business owner wants someone to answer their phone calls. Small businesses don’t want to hire a full-time receptionist to answer phone calls because they don’t receive many incoming calls. Also, a full-time receptionist is not a solution that small businesses can easily afford.
For many businesses, answering phone calls can be an issue. Either you don’t have dedicated agents or don’t wish to pay the additional costs of the dedicated call centers. Whatever your reasons, we’re about to explore the different types of answering services so you can choose a professional service suitable for your business.
It’s important to remember that not every answering service is worth your money. Let’s check what makes an answering service worth your money.
Live Answering Services
Service providers that offer live answering services have dedicated agents who answer your business phone calls. A live answering service uses human beings to respond to customers and clients. No automated machines answer inbound calls. Live answering solutions increase customer satisfaction because nothing matches having a live agent (person) answer customers and clients on time.
This service also helps businesses win more business opportunities. A live answering service is suitable for companies with a high call volume. It is also helpful for businesses that depend on responding to customers and clients in a timely manner and providing excellent customer service.
Automated Answering Services
In automated answering services, human beings don’t answer the phone. Call answering is done through a machine. This service means that machines answer incoming calls. The callers hear a list of options for services or information they need. They press numbers to get more information or ask questions; a voice recognition feature helps them understand and answer their questions.
It all depends on the automated service provided. This service can save employees time by giving callers the information they need without having to talk to an employee or live agent.
Automated answering services are suitable for those who need help answering the phone and would use some automation to save time. The automated answering service can also direct callers to the right employee.
Virtual Receptionist Services
A virtual receptionist service is similar to live answering services. While live answering agents stick to a basic script and provide customers and clients with some basic information, taking their names or a message. Virtual receptionists perform additional services besides answering calls.
Some of the tasks that they perform are scheduling appointments, appointment setting, sending reminders, answering questions, patching calls, and message taking.
Virtual receptionists are like personal assistants who work remotely from home or with a company providing virtual receptionist services. A virtual receptionist service is a great choice for your business if you want more than a call-answering service. Different providers provide different services, so you need to be aware of the services and features of the service provider you pick.
Factors That Affect the Cost of an Answering Service
How much do answering services cost? There is no size fits all when it comes to how much answering services charge you. Answering service charges you based on many factors that we’ll explore here.
Level of Service Needed
The level of service affects the cost of the answering service pricing. Sometimes, you only need a live phone answering. You may need to add live chat to provide quality answering service for your website visitors.
Number of Calls
The monthly call volume you receive also affects how much you’re going to pay. For most answering services, you pay per receptionist minute. So, you decide how many receptionist minutes you need to be based on the call volume. You probably need to pay for a few receptionist minutes if you’re a small business.
You’ll need to check if you need any additional features. You pay extra money for the additional features. With Smith AI, you pay for call add-ons like text and email follow-up, CRM integrations, call recording and transcriptions, booking appointments, etc. They are priced per call monthly.
As for Conversational LLC, you pick 2 add-ons and pay $79 per month. Those add-ons include lead entry, payment processing, and collect call reporting.
Some service providers provide additional services for additional fees. Those services include CRM integrations, booking appointments, accepting payments, business caller ID for outbound calls, call recording, etc. Some service providers also have a setup fee. Also, you pay for the extra minutes if you exceed the receptionist’s minutes.
How Much Does an Answering Service Cost?
Let’s start by comparing answering service pricing for the many answering services out there. Live answering, and virtual receptionists overlap, but let’s see an estimate of how each of the listed services will cost you.
Pricing for Live Answering and Virtual Receptionists
Pricing for live answering and virtual receptionists varies according to the reception minutes. Ruby’s reception plans, for example, cost around $230 per month for 50 receptionist minutes and can reach up to $1595 monthly for 500 receptionist minutes. Posh’s plans range from $114 for 50 receptionist minutes to $884 for 500 receptionist minutes.
Those plans include call handling, integrations, bilingual services, and message management. They are also HIPAA compliant, which makes them suitable for the healthcare industry.
Some companies offer live chat solutions. For example, live chat solutions at Ruby cost $135 for up to 10 chats and $490 for 50 chats. You can choose either service or pick the bundled plan for both services.
Pricing for Automated Answering Services
As for automated answering services, RingCentral, for example, charges $30 per user per month for the core plan and $45 per user per month for the ultra plan. The core plan includes IVR or interactive voice response, SMS and MMS, unlimited domestic calling, etc.
As for Gensys, plans range from $75 to $150 per month and include a secure IVR, configuration of voice call flows, recording interactions with high quality, IVR minutes fair-use policy, data storage, etc.
How to Choose an Answering Service Provider?
Choosing an answering service provider depends on your business size, business needs, budget, and what the service provider offers.
Factors to Consider
Here we’ll share some of the factors to consider when choosing answering service providers.
Reputation and Reviews
On their websites, answering service providers praise their services and promise their clients excellent service. However, when picking a service, you shouldn’t rely only on what answering service providers say on their websites.
As a business owner, you should look for online reviews to see if they fulfill their promises, if customers are happy about the service, and whether they have any complaints. Of course, you will find complaints. But are they issues you can live with or deal-breakers? Reviews online can help you decide which answering service is suitable for your business.
Do you need a live answering service or an automated service? Would you also like to add live chat? Different services offer different features and solutions. Ruby offers a live chat solution, but Posh only offers a live answering service.
As for automated answering services, you may need a voice recognition solution to make it easier for your clients when they call.
Integrations are also important. You would like a service provider who offers integrations with your preferred software. You may also check if the service provider offers CRM integration. Also, you may need bilingual services if you have callers from various countries.
Answering service pricing models differ, but they fall under 3 main categories. Let’s explain each category and which fits your business needs.
Per Minute Billing
This is a common billing method. You’re charged per minute. The provider calculates the answering service cost according to how many minutes they spend with your customers on the phone or how long the calls are.
Most plans are based on receptionist minutes. You receive a certain number of minutes for a certain amount of money, and if you exceed those minutes, you’re charged for every extra minute used. It’s a fair method; you can always try which plan suits you better. Posh and Ruby both use this billing method. Per-minute billing is suitable for businesses that have a known average call duration, a normally short call duration.
Per Call Billing
In this pricing model, you’re charged for your business’s total number of calls. The more calls you receive, the more money you’ll pay. One of the disadvantages of this pricing model is that the users will pay for the wrong numbers, increasing the cost of the service.
Smith.ai uses this billing method. Users are charged $255 per month for 30 calls and up to $1170 per month for 180 calls. If you exceed the allotted number of calls, you’ll extra money for every additional call. The per-call billing is suitable for those who receive few phone calls.
Per Unit Billing
One of the billing methods used is the per-unit billing. In this method, you’re charged per the call, message, call transfer, and any other tasks related to managing one phone call. This way, you’re not restricted by call duration or call volume.
Patientcalls, a specialized medical answering service, use the per-unit billing method. They also use the per-minute and per-call methods. They adjust their pricing according to the business needs. This per-unit billing method helps you save money upfront if you expect longer call durations.
We hope this article has helped you decide how to handle your business calls. And whether you will choose automated or live answering, you now have a good idea about the different billing methods. You know about the factors you should consider to get quality service. Small, medium-sized, and even large companies can now easily decide how to pick the best service, what to look for, and how to avoid hidden fees.
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