What Is A Phone Answering Service?

A phone answering service is a group of industry-trained customer service professionals who manage inbound and outbound calls on behalf of organizations (their clients).

Typically, phone answering service companies operate by using call forwarding. When organizations activate this option on their office phones, phone traffic is transferred automatically to the answer services provider’s office. 

The calls are answered by highly trained industry representatives who understand the callers' needs and their clients’ services and answer the callers’ questions professionally and accurately. They work based on specific guidelines or scripts when speaking with clients. 

Therefore, callers won’t realize that they are connected to an outside customer agent or that they haven’t directly reached the office they’ve called. 

These experts will also assist you with auxiliary services, such as assisting clients via live chat, email and social media. 

According to Salesforce, the most used customer service channel in the pandemic era is video chat, followed by other digital channels such as mobile applications and messenger apps. 

These specialized companies make real-time reports that not only allow you to monitor billing and the agents’ performance but are also useful in understanding your customers’ needs and concerns. 

Smiling woman with headphones at a computer providing answering services
26% of consumers say that great customer service makes them loyal to a brand

What Do Telephone Answering Service Companies Do? 

Phone answering service specialists replace or support traditional receptionists and call centers. 

They help brands create meaningful, personal connections with customers by: 

  • Screening calls 
  • Recording calls 
  • Delivering messages 
  • Setting appointments 
  • Managing emergency calls 
  • Processing outbound marketing campaigns 
  • Taking orders 
  • Providing customer service and technical support 
  • Communicating with clients via text, email, video chat and more 

Phone answering service companies wear many hats, but their primary goal is to showcase their clients’ businesses in the best light possible and provide excellent customer support, improving their brand image and increasing customer satisfaction. 

They can handle a high volume of calls after hours, during weekends or holidays, making sure each customer is assisted with special care and personalized communication. 

What Is The Difference Between Phone Answering Services, Call Centers And Virtual Receptionists? 

These three types of services slightly differ based on how they handle tasks. 

1. Phone answering service companies usually receive short calls, which they later route towards different departments.

Their job is to gather key information from callers like their name, telephone number or general issues they struggle with. They quickly transfer this info where needed so that their clients’ employees can respond to them accordingly. 

2. Call centers typically manage large volumes of calls mostly related to order taking and telemarketing.

They are also able to answer questions over the phone or send emails and text messages to handle various customer requests themselves. 

3. Virtual receptionists perform the same or similar tasks as answering services and call centers. Additionally, they can assist businesses with lead capturing and appointment scheduling.

However, they are more concerned with your business success and engage in more interactions with your team. 

Their job is to improve customer satisfaction and sales, so they offer various customer service-related services and handle the communication with professionalism. 

Considering that these specialized services are increasingly in demand, the three types of companies may offer customer support services that each of them would normally offer separately. 

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Why Should You Outsource Phone Answering Services? 

From reducing costs to boosting sales, these are the major benefits that phone answering service companies can bring to your business: 

Benefit #1: Reduced Costs 

Compared to employing an in-house receptionist that may cost you between $2.800 and $3500 per month, answering service providers can save you money in the long run, especially after you factor in additional spending like sick days, holidays, payroll taxes, office equipment and hiring several people to handle each shift. 

Partnering with a telephone answering services provider can reduce these costs dramatically since customer agents are fully trained experts who have all the necessary equipment to handle client communication. 

Plus, they will charge you based on the minutes spent talking with your clients, so you will avoid paying full-time salaries that include the downtime of not speaking to the clients. 

Benefit #2: Increased Productivity 

Each call you get is an opportunity to provide your callers with great customer service while enhancing your brand image and improving client satisfaction. 

However, responding to each call or email can be a hassle, especially if you and your team have too much work on your shoulders. 

Allowing an external phone answering service to manage your client communication can free you a lot of time so that you can focus on your company’s core competencies and larger sales drivers. 

It will reduce your workload while increasing your productivity and efficiency. 

Benefit #3: Enhanced Customer Service 

26% of global consumers say that exceptional customer service is the attribute that makes them remain loyal to a brand. 

Telephone answering services can help your business reinforce strong customer relationships and maintain a professional image. 

Their highly trained representatives offer professional services who can ensure your clients receive high-quality support, showcasing your company in the best light possible. 

They will customize your clients’ experience, offering personalized greetings and answers for each individual caller. 

They can also provide 24/7 assistance, even out of your company’s working hours, during weekends and holidays. 

Additionally, these agencies employ talents who speak several languages to serve your multilingual customers. 

All these factors will contribute to enhanced customer service, increased customer satisfaction and better user loyalty. 

Benefit #4: Easy Tracking 

Outsourcing phone answering services will give you access to cutting-edge reporting tools to track your inbound and outbound calls. 

These tools can generate monthly reports automatically and provide you with insights into who is calling your business and for what purposes. 

They can also track key info on callers and numbers that you can later leverage for your sales and marketing campaigns. 

In addition, these tools will measure how much time your agents spend assisting your clients, which helps monitor the billing. 

Benefit #5: Boost In Sales 

It was established that excellent customer service is a major factor that influences client satisfaction and retention. It is the key to building loyalty and driving repeat purchases. 

Phone answering service agents can make all the difference by offering professional support and efficient problem resolutions. 

This will contribute to more returning clients and sales boosts. 

How Much Do Telephone Answering Services Cost? 

Telephone answering services are subscription-based. Providers typically charge: 

  • Per-minute: This structure is based on the minutes the agents spend talking with clients. 
  • Per call: The business pays a flat rate for each received call. 
  • Per month: This fee includes a set number of calling minutes per billing cycle. 

Phone answering service prices in the United States usually start at $30+ and go as high as a few thousand dollars per month. 

The cost ranges from one company to another and these few factors may influence it: 

  • The number of services used 
  • The coverage time 
  • The agency’s reputation 
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How To Select The Most Reliable Answering Service For Your Business 

To choose the most reliable call answering service provider for your business needs, consider the following factors: 

1. Industry experience

Ask if the prospective agencies have experience in serving companies in the same sector and industry. If they do, it means that they are already familiar with the ins and outs of your business, as well as the needs and the major concerns of your clients. 

Agents with previous industry experience can serve your callers more effectively and efficiently, contributing to a greater reputation of your company. 

2. Time coverage

Think about the time you need these experts to assist you. Do you need them during your working hours, after your working hours or only for weekends and holidays? 

Some phone answering service companies in the U.S. work 24/7/365 while others only offer their support at a specific time of the day. Before making your choice, ask these companies for their time coverage plan. 

3. Client feedback

Find out what other clients say about each potential agency by reading their reviews on independent, third-party websites. 

This form of feedback will showcase their capabilities and strengths but also highlight their weaknesses. You will discover how reliable and flexible they are, what processes they have and whether they can provide exceptional customer service. 

4. Reporting

See what reporting tools these agencies have access to and ask how often they will provide reports and what they will include. 

A great phone answering service company will ensure their monthly reports include key data like number and types of calls received, number of issues solved or not solved, the time spent on each call and more. 

5. Bilingual agents

Learn whether telephone answering service companies employ bilingual representatives. This is particularly important if you live in an area where English is not the only spoken language. 

Considering that Spanish is the most spoken foreign language in the U.S., you might want to partner with an agency that has Spanish-speaking agents as well to serve the Hispanic customer base. It all depends on your location and customer base. 

10 Questions To Ask Telephone Answering Service Companies 

  1. What industries does your team have experience in? 
  2. What type of systems and technologies do you have access to? 
  3. Do you offer any additional services to call answering? 
  4. Do you use local numbers? 
  5. What time coverage do you offer? 
  6. How can you ensure the quality of your services? 
  7. Do you have an emergency backup plan? 
  8. Will you provide me with monthly analytical reports? What metrics will you track? 
  9. Where are your agents located? Are they fluent in English? Are they bilingual? 
  10. How much will your services cost me and what is included in the contract? 

Takeaways On Phone Answering Services 

Phone answering service companies in the USA can help you: 

  • Manage your client communication more efficiently 
  • Handle routine tasks to reduce workload 
  • Provide marketing and sales support 
  • Improve customer experience 

Hiring them may cost you between $30 and a few thousands of dollars per month. 

The benefits of partnering with a telephone answering service provider include: 

  • Reduced cost 
  • Increased productivity 
  • Enhanced customer service 
  • Easy call tracking 
  • Boost in sales 

To choose the best agency partner for your business needs, consider these factors: 

  • Industry experience 
  • Time coverage 
  • Client feedback 
  • Reporting 
  • Bilingual agents 

Good luck with your research! 

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