Table of Contents
- What Is A Virtual Answering Service?
- How Do Answering Services Work?
- How Do Virtual Answering Services Bill You?
- Some Points to Consider
- Reviews of the Top 5 Live Answer Virtual Phone Services
- Answer Connect
- Specialty Answering Service (SAS)
- Stericycle Communications Solutions
- Professional Communications Messaging Service (PCMSI)
- Conclusion: Which Is The Best Virtual Answering Service For The Money?
What Is A Virtual Answering Service?
Assuming you are a business owner and the volume of telephone calls that you get is extremely high and you can’t handle them efficiently. But at the same time, you do not want to hire more employees, then, in this case, an answering service becomes an ideal option to handle your customer calls, while your employees can be utilized for other important duties.
Live answering services provide people who can answer your phone calls, fix appointments, take messages, take care of sales, etc. Answering services are commonly used in many industries especially in retail, healthcare, etc. particularly in the small and mid-market segments.
If your business is very small and your staff is already overburdened, answering services help you to provide customer service to your clients without overloading your employees or hiring new people. Answering services have professionals who can answer customer queries and resolve complaints. They provide these services even after the close of regular business hours.
The answering services answer all your incoming calls and respond to customer queries by following a script provided by you and you can add whatever information you feel is required into the scripts. Most of the answering service companies have options that can be customized so that the agents answering the calls have complete knowledge about your products or services as you desire.
The services of the answering service companies are billed differently. Commonly, many answering service companies bill by the minute. If your calls are short, then this type of billing works very well. Some other companies bill per phone call. This is especially beneficial if the incoming calls are long.
Nevertheless, despite whatever billing system the answering service company follows, you must ensure that they do not bill you for hang-ups, spam calls, misdialed calls towards your call volume or fixed monthly time. The answering services must provide toll-free or local numbers, call patching facility, good customer service and daily reports.
When you are using an answering service, you must remember that not all services may be helpful. Ensure that the answering service that you hire meets the requirements of your customers by being able to answer their queries and resolve their issues effectively. For instance, if your customers need to make appointments, then ensure that the answering service you select provides you this function. If you require that the answering service should be able to process orders, then you must provide adequate information, so that the agents are trained properly to answer calls as required by your customer.
When it comes to customer service and superior features, Answer Connect is a fantastic answering service. Answer Connect offers order processing, appointment scheduling and most importantly, it offers 24×7 service. The company trains its agents in-depth, as per your requirements and offers a wide range of features such as bilingual options, scripts, online account, etc.
The team of Answer Connect is professional, enthusiastic and ready to handle calls round-the-clock. They deliver all your messages efficiently and almost act as a seamless extension of your business. All your calls are answered live, 24×7 and the calls never timed out. All your messages will be delivered to you irrespective of where you are via text messages, thus helping you keep up to date with your customers.
Answer Connect offers a seamless presentation to your callers and answers your calls with your business name and then quickly patches the call to you. In case you are not available to take the call, they will take a message on your behalf and ensure that you get it immediately via email, text or via the online portal. If you sell products or a service, then Answer Connect can answer all the queries that the buyer may have and you can close a sale, thereby enabling you to sell your products and services round the clock.
Whether you are in real estate, law, personal care or healthcare, Answer Connect enables you to meet your schedules and also ensures that your workload is maximized by offering appointment-based businesses. You can make use of Setmore, the partner online appointment software of Answer Connect or they can book the appointments using your business’ system. You can conveniently log into your account and review messages, change your plan, make bill payments, etc.
Answer Connect has 3 basic plans
- Standard: 135-minute plan at $149.99/month
- Business: 225-minute plan at $199.99/month
- Premium: 450-minute plan at $399.99/month
- Answer Connect has a very responsive and comprehensive customer service.
- Multiple plans to choose from.
- A variety of features to fulfil your needs.
- Services of Answer Connect are not very affordable.
If you are looking to extend the hours of your business by increasing your phone lines to the maximum, then SAS can be a great plus for your business. It is a good idea to always choose an answering service that can match the demands of your business.
SAS offers services that are suitable for most small businesses and their services are feature-rich. SAS offers a plethora of services such as voicemail services, taking orders, setting appointments, bilingual operators, lead generation services, etc. SAS offers inbound telecommunication solutions for several industries such as real estate, medical practices, attorneys and lawyers, contractors, etc. SAS is HIPAA compliant and follows all HIPAA regulations, so it can also be used a medical answering service. You can use the service to schedule all your customer and patient appointments.
SAS offers additional services such as telemarketing, market research, virtual assistants for following up direct mail, etc. SAS also provides personalized training to meet your requirements for more specialized services that can help to maximize your business potential and benefit you in every possible way.
All this is possible via SAS’s software that streamlines all your business requirements. You can retrieve messages, access your meeting schedules and also track your metrics on the online portal. SAS services are available to you 24×7 and 365 days in a year including holidays.
You can set up your services with SAS very quickly and they can start answering your phones right away. SAS charges a one-time setup fee for setting up the software, scripting, etc.
SAS offers 4 packages you can choose from:
- Economy: $29.00/month
- 100 Minute: $109.00/month
- 220 Minute: $189.00/month
- 500 Minute: $469.00/month
- SAS offers order processing and appointment setting at no extra charge.
- HIPAA compliant.
- Reasonably priced.
- The customer service of SAS may not be very responsive, as they don’t respond to emails promptly.
VoiceNation is a very popular answering service that offers seemingly endless options for you to choose from for your business. They are in sync with the requirements of the industry and offer services that any small business requires to stay on top of their game.
VoiceNation is HIPAA compliant and offers setting up medical appointments and the answering service has agents who are bilingual. The VoiceNation agents are available 24×7 to answer your phones and all your information is recorded on your online account, which also includes usage reports, messages, etc. You can track the type and frequency of calls received. VoiceNation also offers services like a reseller platform, usage reports and disaster recovery, i.e. if your phone lines are down, the agents from VoiceNation can take over the answering of your calls.
The VoiceNation website has a FAQs page that answers all your queries and you can also contact VoiceNation via their live chat option and email.
VoiceNation pricing packages are quite budget-friendly and flexible and the answering service charges per minute and the account can be set up in just one day. There is no setup fee charged for the basic plan. However, if you want VoiceNation to handle your order taking and processing, there is a setup fee and the fee depends on the training required and the complexity of your order process.
- 40 for 40: This is the most basic package and they offer only message taking in this plan.
Price: $40.00/month (+$1/minute)The full-featured plans are:
- Quick Start: 0 minutes included, $1.15/minute additionally.
- Business: 75 minutes included, $1.10/minute additionally.
- Pro: 125 minutes included, $1.05/minute additionally.
- Platinum: 250 minutes included, $1/minute additionally.
- Executive: 500 minutes included, $0.95/minute additionally.
- VoiceNation’s executives are bilingual.
- Call recording feature to track every single call that comes in.
- Disaster recovery system in place in case your phone lines are down.
- No trial period offered.
- Live chat support available only from Monday-Friday.
If you are in the medical business and are on the lookout for an answering service, then you could consider Stericycle Communications Solutions, as it is probably the only live answering services dedicated to the requirements of the medical community and medical-based businesses.
The answering service is HIPAA compliant ensuring that all the patient information is kept confidential and the agents of Stericycle Communications Solutions are well-trained to take medical-related calls. The agents are provided with comprehensive training to handle all medical-related queries.
Stericycle Communications Solutions offers appointment setting and they can also do order taking and order processing if you have your own website and software for the agents to enter all the information. Stericycle Communications Solutions is the only live answering service that offers a combination of agent and live services, patient engagement platforms and outreach technologies that are automated. Stericycle Communications Solutions are geared to handle all your internal initiatives as well as your patient requirements and the best part is that they share all the information gathered on your behalf with you and your employees.
Stericycle Communications Solutions offers round-the-clock customer service and their bilingual agents are fluent in English and Spanish.
If you want to setup your account with Stericycle Communications Solutions, it takes around 10 days, which is the much longer than other services in the same space. The long time is due to the employee training given by Stericycle Communications Solutions and the time taken for software setup and scripting.
The company also charges the highest setup fees compared to other answering services in the market. The cost of the service is based on the monthly call usage. Stericycle’s monthly costs are also the most expensive compared to the other service providers.
- Company specializes in healthcare services and is HIPAA compliant.
- They offer a range of features that automate a lot of their services.
- Well-trained staff.
- No live chat support.
- Relatively expensive.
PCMSI is an answering service that offers customized plans, a wide variety of features and a “Best Rate Guarantee”, which makes it a service worth considering.
You can use the PCMSI answering service to schedule your appointments and the agents can make use of your scheduling software or their own at no extra cost. The appointments are made in real time, so that your employees can monitor the appointments as and when they are scheduled. Once the appointment is made, you and your customer get an automatic reminder via email.
PCMSI is HIPAA compliant, which makes the answering service suitable for healthcare services or medical offices. PCMSI can also take and process orders on your behalf and the agents can enter the information into your existing software or if you don’t have one, they use their own software at no extra charge.
The answering services from PCMSI are available 24×7; however, it does not have an online account portal where you can view all your details and it also does not have bilingual agents. The customer service can be contacted via email.
You can set up your account with PCMSI in just one day. The company charges a one-time setup fee and the billing is done at the end of the month for the number of minutes. Of all the answering services reviewed, PCMSI is the least expensive and is very affordable. So, if you’re on a budget, then this is probably the answering service to consider.
- Most affordable answering service with most competitive rates.
- Account setup in just one day.
- Does not have bilingual agents.
Conclusion: Which Is The Best Virtual Answering Service For The Money?
If you’re looking for a virtual answering service that has trained professionals on an industry by industry basis, you might really like PatLive.com. Whether you’re a dentist or an hvac contractor, they have special phone scripts just for your industry… which makes a HUGE difference compared to regular live answer services that just cater to everyone. (it feels more generic when you call, and doesn’t sound as professional since they might be taking a locksmith call the same way they would for a dental office… not the greatest)
Selecting an answering service for your business is a very serious matter. Today, there are many different options available and you must select a service based on the specific requirements of your business and on the basis of your budget. As a doctor, you may need an answering service that can handle medical queries and keeps in mind the needs of your patients first, or you may be looking for a service that can handle all your order taking and processing that can boost your business. So, whatever is your business requirement, you must evaluate the offerings of the answering service vis-à-vis the pricing and decide on the option that will be the best for your business.