Cost of an Answering Service & Factors Affecting Its Price + Benefits and Considerations

Cost of an Answering Service & Factors Affecting Its Price + Benefits and Considerations
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: October 21, 2022

The cost of an answering service is a fundamental consideration when deciding on employing this customer assistance type.

As your company expands, the influx of calls and the need for client support increase. Thus, building additional support media and channels is in order. After all, 62% of calls are missed by small to medium-sized businesses, making them lose out on opportunities to convert and serve clients.

Hiring an answering service is a good solution. It can help you with more efficient business operations.

While you focus on professional operational standards and improving your organization’s core competencies, you should maintain exceptional client care. 75% of consumers prefer human interaction over dealing with an automated system when calling for assistance.

You have two options to cater to consumer needs and inquiries. One, you can hire an on-premise receptionist to answer inbound calls. Another choice will be to outsource your enterprise’s answering services to external specialists.

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Average Cost of an Answering Service

So, how much do answering services cost?

On average, the cost of an answering service functioning 24/7 ranges between $.80 per minute and $1.17 per minute. That is approximately equivalent to an hourly standard rate of $20 to $45. However, these figures will vary based on the calls’ complexity.

These are the pricing schemes you can choose from when using an answering service:

Pay by the Minute

The bill-by-the-minute payment model is commonly used. You only pay for the time you consume. The answering service agency will charge you for inbound and outbound call increments.

Certain pay-by-the-minute plans grant a base cost for a fixed number of minutes per billing cycle. And the duration agents engage in a call is counted as accrued time.

You should clarify how the service provides computes the call time.

Pay per Call

Instead of counting the number of minutes spent on calls, the answering service company charges you a flat rate for every call taken under this billing scheme.

Ask how wrong numbers and disconnected calls will affect your payments for this package.

Monthly Subscription

Many companies opt for recurring monthly billing. A monthly subscription will require a fixed number of minutes for each payment period. Every extra minute incurred has a corresponding flat fee on top of the base price.

Factors Affecting Answering Service Costs

An answering service delivers essential customer care solutions for your business. It is vital to understand that not all answering service providers operate in the same way.

Service agencies are providing additional resources that can be beneficial to your operations. For instance, these add-ons can bring more value to their service:

  • Email messaging
  • Appointment preparation and scheduling
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) integration
  • Strengthened call reporting and documentation, including daily volume and individual call summary
  • Call routing
  • Payment collection
  • Dedicated foreign language lines
  • Conflict checks
  • Appointment scheduling
  • 24/7 live virtual call center
  • Personalized greeting
  • Call vetting and pre-qualification
  • New client booking
  • Customer SMS replies
  • Outbound client calls
  • Call disposition, including urgency level and type

Here are other factors that can increase or lower the cost of an answering service:

Amount of Calls

The lower the number of calls your agency receives, the lower the price per call volume will be. This tiered pricing is a convenient and affordable choice for you as you only pay for calls that go through successfully.

Transfer Destinations

A transfer destination is a third-party recipient to whom a customer call is rerouted. The volume of transfer destinations will affect your bills. More transfers mean an increased cost.

To avoid unwarranted fees, you can weigh the benefits of subscribing to call transfers. Assess the accuracy of redirected calls and the agency’s ability to ensure only select, important calls are transferred.

For example, a live operator should be able to answer basic inquiries and resolve simple issues without resorting to a call transfer.

Call Duration

Call duration is the basis of the pay-by-the-minute billing model.

Spending less time on a phone call may mean lower expenses for you. But this can be misleading.

Ultimately, an answering service should aim to satisfy customer needs, regardless of how long they should stay on the phone. Ideally, you do not want client service agents to rush their calls so you can reduce your expenses.

Wrong Numbers, Spam, and Dropped Calls

Customers dial incorrectly at times and all enterprises receive spam calls. Ensure transparency and check with your service provider if they count spam calls into your monthly quota.

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Considerations When Hiring Answering Services

Know what you intend to bring to your business before hiring a call-answer service. Selecting the right customer support provider is crucial to your company’s success.

Making an informed choice will keep you, your clients, and your employees fulfilled. Note these pointers before signing up for the services of a customer support company:

Quality Level

An exceptional quality service will deliver excellent client care. It should include availability on an around-the-clock basis. If you are looking for top-notch quality, a low-cost of answering service may not be the best option for you.

Call Handling Skills

Investigate the satisfaction level you will get from using an agency. Note the amount of work that goes into processing client calls.

Bilingual Services

If your business runs internationally, you should choose a company with a bilingual queue. It may be necessary to assist prospective foreign customers accurately and more comfortably.

Call Statistics

Ask for monthly reports from different service providers to compare and evaluate. These reports should include the customer service representatives’ efficiency—the speed at which calls are taken and the average time they take to resolve concerns.

Professionalism

95% of people believe customer service is contributory to their loyalty to a brand. Your call-answering service influences your brand’s first impression on consumers. It should reflect your values and represent your company accurately in a positive light.

References and Recommendations

Look at what other clients are saying about your choices of service provider. Read reviews and conduct a background check.

Availability of Inbound and Outbound Call Services

Hire an answering service equipped with the capability to handle inbound and outbound calls.

Advantages of an Answering Service

Answering service costs affect your business’s bottom line, sales, and revenue, as it impacts your reputation among consumers. Ensure you do your due diligence and look into a wide range of options before arriving at a decision.

Having a vivid idea of why you are using an answering service is vital to get the most out of it.

Here are the benefits you can enjoy from a call answering agency:

Productivity

Your specialized teams must have core responsibilities that take up a typical workday. Outsourcing client care to an answering service can drive up your organization’s productivity as this will allow your employees to focus on the duties they do best.

Keeping your customers happy should be the heart of your business and remain a top priority. And you do not have to maintain this segment of your company on your own.

Consistency

Consistency in the customer journey is critical from one touchpoint to another. This aspect of client experience may suffer if you leave handling of calls to staff members with little to no training focused on customer service.

With an answering service, you get the benefits of fully trained specialists who can guarantee a positive feedback and consistency.

Profitability

An answering service costs you money. You indeed need to allocate a budget for an agency’s services.

Keep in mind that outstanding customer service can improve the overall buyer experience. This has a drastic impact on your bottom line. Ultimately, making a sale and generating profits is your goal. Calls attended to promptly can strengthen your customer relations and support client retention.

Competitive Edge

A professional answering service can help set your brand apart from competitors. It is a potent differentiator that speaks volumes about how you value and take care of your customers.

In a Nutshell: Deciding on the Cost of an Answering Service

Answering service costs are worthwhile when you measure them up against the benefits you can gain from the professional-level client assistance they provide.

Compare agency rates before narrowing down your choices. Verify the payment plan you will take and require complete transparency to refrain from overpaying. Understanding the service metrics, such as incoming analytics, outgoing data, and hold time, is also crucial when evaluating a call answering service's performance.

Your choice of service provider can make or break your customer support quality. Finding the most fitting agency partner will get you these perks:

  • Staff productivity boost
  • Better control over labor costs
  • Elimination of the need for in-house training
  • Optimized return on investment (ROI)
  • Profitability increase
  • Greater reliability and consistency, in turn, stronger consumer loyalty
  • Superior management of unexpected situations
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