8 Best Answering Services for 2020

As the saying goes, you don’t get a second shot at making a first impression. 

In the business world, a missed call or a long wait time may cost you a lead, a business opportunity, a client, potential profits…

There is a lot at stake.

To help your business make a GREAT first impression we have reviewed, ranked, and cherry-picked the best answering service for your business!

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1. RingCentral

The RingCentral virtual receptionist can greet callers, filter, route, and forward calls - basically anything a live assistant would do. Taking into account all the features and services included in the plan, at $19.99 it is practically a steal! RingCentral is the best virtual answering service for small business companies. Full Review

  • Full business communications solution
  • Toll-free telephone numbers
  • Customizable greeting recording
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The RingCentral virtual receptionist can greet callers, filter, route, and forward calls - basically anything a live assistant would do. Taking into account all the features and services included in the plan, at $19.99 it is practically a steal! RingCentral is the best virtual answering service for small business companies. Full Review

Free trial

15 days

Customer support

24/7

Live answering

No

Automated answering

Yes

Multi-level IVR

Yes

After hours

Voicemail, routing & whitelisted numbers

Message taking

No

Appointment scheduling

No

2. PATLive

PATLive receptionists are ready to deliver round the clock professional customer service. This US-based remote team can improve customer relations and help you build successful relationships with your clients. No contract is required - the plans are on a month-to-month basis and you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel any time. Full Review

  • Order processing
  • Lead collection
  • Third-party integrations
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PATLive receptionists are ready to deliver round the clock professional customer service. This US-based remote team can improve customer relations and help you build successful relationships with your clients. No contract is required - the plans are on a month-to-month basis and you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel any time. Full Review

Free Trial

14-day trial

Customer support

24/7

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

No

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

24/7 availability

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

3. Specialty Answering Service

The SAS answering service will provide your business with all the necessary services: 24/7 availability, message taking, appointment scheduling, order processing, and more! On top of that, you can use the intuitive online portal or app to check your messages and review call reports to get better insights into your customers’ engagement. Full Review

  • Spanish answering services
  • PCI compliant order processing
  • Outbound calls
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The SAS answering service will provide your business with all the necessary services: 24/7 availability, message taking, appointment scheduling, order processing, and more! On top of that, you can use the intuitive online portal or app to check your messages and review call reports to get better insights into your customers’ engagement. Full Review

Free trial

14 days

Customer support

24/7

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

Yes

Multi-level IVR

Yes

After hours

24/7 availability

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

4. PCMSI

What makes PCMSI stand out the most among competitors is the answering service cost. PCMSI offers some of the most affordable plans - with an additional minute charge of $0.75! Given the wide range of services it provides, this is one of the best deals around. Full Review

  • Best rate guarantee
  • Order taking
  • Lead capture
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What makes PCMSI stand out the most among competitors is the answering service cost. PCMSI offers some of the most affordable plans - with an additional minute charge of $0.75! Given the wide range of services it provides, this is one of the best deals around. Full Review

Free trial

No

Customer support

24/7

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

No

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

24/7 availability

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

5. Davinci Virtual

Davinci Virtual has combined the best of live and automated answering services, creating a comprehensive package of both. With the advanced call routing setup, Find Me Follow Me, callers will be able to reach you whether you are in the office or at home. It is the reason why Davinci Virtual is the best answering service for small business owners! Full Review

  • Mobile app
  • Bilingual receptionists
  • Per second increments
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Davinci Virtual has combined the best of live and automated answering services, creating a comprehensive package of both. With the advanced call routing setup, Find Me Follow Me, callers will be able to reach you whether you are in the office or at home. It is the reason why Davinci Virtual is the best answering service for small business owners! Full Review

Free trial

No

Customer support

Business hours

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

Yes

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

Automated

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

6. Moneypenny

Moneypenny receptionists work in smaller teams of four, which means your business will practically have one dedicated remote receptionist. You can be sure that your clients will always be greeted with a familiar and friendly voice. Start your 7-day free trial and benefit from the best call answering service for micro-business companies! Full Review

  • Online client portal
  • Mobile app
  • Live chat
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Moneypenny receptionists work in smaller teams of four, which means your business will practically have one dedicated remote receptionist. You can be sure that your clients will always be greeted with a familiar and friendly voice. Start your 7-day free trial and benefit from the best call answering service for micro-business companies! Full Review

Free trial period

7 days

Customer support

Business hours

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

No

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

24/7 availability

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

No

7. VoiceNation

You would be hard-pressed to find a better answering service than VoiceNation. The bilingual virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to answer calls or provide live chat support. Order processing, message delivery, detailed reports, and a dedicated account manager are available in all plans. VoiceNation claims to provide the best live answering service for all industries, but it really stands out as the best choice for lawyers. Full Review

  • Mobile app
  • Bilingual operators
  • HIPAA compliant
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You would be hard-pressed to find a better answering service than VoiceNation. The bilingual virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to answer calls or provide live chat support. Order processing, message delivery, detailed reports, and a dedicated account manager are available in all plans. VoiceNation claims to provide the best live answering service for all industries, but it really stands out as the best choice for lawyers. Full Review

Free trial

7-day trial

Customer support

24/7 support

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

No

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

24/7 availability

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

8. Map Communications

Besides providing companies with virtual receptionists and answering solutions, MAP Communications also offers call center services. Their expertise in handling high call volumes cannot be matched! Customizable scripts and pricing plans are some of the benefits MAP Communications can offer to growing businesses. Full Review

  • Client portal
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Spanish answering services
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Besides providing companies with virtual receptionists and answering solutions, MAP Communications also offers call center services. Their expertise in handling high call volumes cannot be matched! Customizable scripts and pricing plans are some of the benefits MAP Communications can offer to growing businesses. Full Review

Free trial

7-day trial

Customer support

Extended business hours

Live answering

Yes

Automated answering

No

Multi-level IVR

No

After hours

Yes

Message taking

Yes

Appointment scheduling

Yes

Best Answering Services for 2020

  • RingCentral Auto Attendant  – Best automated answering service 
  • PATLive – Best small business answering service
  • Specialty Answering Service (SAS) – Best medical answering service 
  • PCMSI – Best low-cost answering service 
  • Davinci Virtual – Best for advanced call routing 
  • Moneypenny – Best micro-business answering service 
  • VoiceNation – Best answering service for lawyers
  • Map Communications – Best answering service for growing businesses

Detailed Reviews

RingCentral
RingCentral

BEST FOR

Automated answering service

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  • Full business communications solution
  • Toll-free telephone numbers
  • Customizable greeting recording
  • Mobile apps for Android and iOS

The RingCentral auto attendant is a virtual receptionist offered in all of the RingCentral Office plans (Essentials, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate). This is an automated online assistant – not a live call answering service – that greets and routes your callers. 

You can use the default greeting, or record your own voice. All users have the option to customize the greeting to their extension. 

The auto attendant can be configured with the following advanced answering rules:

  • Forward callers to an extension or outside line 
  • Send callers to voicemail
  • Connecting message
  • Play music to on-hold callers
  • Special rules for specific caller IDs

By setting up a special rule for certain caller IDs, the auto attendant can be configured to follow the same rule for a certain customer or business partner. So, for example, all calls from a customer can be forwarded to their account manager. 

The multi-level auto attendant feature is only available in the RingCentral Office Premium and Ultimate plans. It uses interactive voice response (IVR) technology, so callers can interact with the auto attendant using their phone. They will have the option to select the location they need to be routed to by pressing a button on their phone (e.g. press 1 to be connected to a certain office).

The RingCentral Office plans start at $29.99/user/month, with the most expensive plan costing $59.99/user/month. There is a 33% discount for annual plans

A 15-day free trial is offered for all plans and you also have the option to sign up for a free demo. 

While the RingCentral auto attendant can only provide limited services, it is a low-cost answering service for small business companies.

PATLive
PATLive

BEST FOR

Small business answering service

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  • Order processing
  • Lead collection
  • Third-party integrations
  • Spanish answering services

PATLive is a telecommunications company that provides 24/7 live answering services. Its experienced US-based customer service team has been trained to handle calls for companies in various industries. 

Every plan comes with a dedicated phone number (or numbers) and around the clock phone answering service. A customized call script will be created for your business, and the agents will provide you with a summary and report of every call

Depending on the plan you have chosen, the virtual receptionist offers additional services – transferring important calls, scheduling appointments for you, processing orders, etc. 

PATLive receptionists are professional call center agents – and as such will undoubtedly increase customer satisfaction

PATLive offers six pricing plans:

  • Basic: $1.95 per minute – $39/month
  • Starter: 75 package minutes/$1.50 per additional minute – $149/month 
  • Standard: 200 package minutes/$1.25 per additional minute – $169/month 
  • Premium: 350 package minutes/$1.10 per additional minute  – $399/month 
  • Pro: 600 package minutes/$1 per additional minute – $629/month 
  • Pro+: 1000 package minutes/$0.95 per additional minute  $999/month 

Taxes and fees are not included in the prices. You will only be paying for the time agents spend talking on the phone. A 14-day free trial of PATLive answering services is available.

Specialty Answering Service
Specialty Answering Service

BEST FOR

Medical answering service

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  • Spanish answering services
  • PCI compliant order processing
  • Outbound calls
  • HIPAA compliant telephone answering

Specialty Answering Service (SAS) is a US-based telecommunications company. As the name suggests, it provides outsourced answering services for small businesses. 

SAS offers both a live answering service for small business companies and an optional automated business answering service. The employees can provide 24/7 customer service for various industries: real estate, healthcare, legal, retail, telecommunications, and many more. 

Those able to handle their calls during business hours can take advantage of the SAS After Hours Answering Service. After business hours, virtual receptionists can take over the calls and provide assistance, process orders, take messages, schedule appointments, or dispatch calls. 

When it comes to industry-specific needs, Specialty Answering Service (SAS) provides some of the best medical answering services. The call handling is HIPAA compliant and protected health information is only sent through secure channels. It also offers appointment scheduling, emergency hotline, etc. 

SAS does not only specialize in medical answering services: they can also take PCI compliant orders, make outbound sales calls, take inbound sales calls, qualify and transfer leads… you name it, SAS can do it.

If you would like to try out the telephone answering services, schedule a free demo, or sign up for a 14-day no-commitment trial. 

SAS offers eight pricing plans ranging from $31/month to $7,749/month. You can have up to 10,000 minutes included in the plan. The additional minutes cost ranges from $1.19 to $0.79 per minute, depending on the plan. You may also be eligible for the per-call billing service.

PCMSI
PCMSI

BEST FOR

Low-cost answering service

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  • Best rate guarantee
  • Order taking
  • Lead capture
  • HIPAA compliant

Professional Communications Messaging Service, Inc (PCMSI) is an experienced US-based telecommunications company providing arguably the best professional answering service. The highly trained PCMSI operators are available 24/7, all year long. 

PCMSI specializes in multiple industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Real estate
  • Service business
  • Information technology
  • Transportation
  • Utilities and government
  • Professional/small business and many more!

The phone answering service is customizable: calls can be forwarded directly to you or your business can be notified about important calls. They will work with you to create a detailed call protocol. 

In addition to this, PCMSI can cater to your industry-specific needs, such as HIPAA compliance and secure messaging services.  Their real estate answering team can access local MLS listings and provide basic information to clients. They will then contact you immediately so that you can follow up with the client. The additional services make PCMSI the best answering service for real estate investors, as well as medical practices. 

What’s more, thе full range of services comes with the best rate guarantee. What this means is that PCMSI monitors your usage and finds the best pricing package for you.

There are 15 set pricing plans, starting from $67 per month for 60 minutes to $2,200 per month for 4000 minutes. Additional minutes cost $0.75 per minute. If the set pricing plans aren’t a good fit for your business you have the option to get a custom quote.

Davinci Virtual
Davinci Virtual

BEST FOR

Advanced call routing

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  • Mobile app
  • Bilingual receptionists
  • Per second increments
  • Admin task add-on

Davinci Virtual offers a wide range of solutions, such as a virtual office, a live receptionist, an automated receptionist and even meeting spaces! 

Whether you purchase one of their live receptionist plans or automated answering services, two phone numbers are included for free. You can choose toll-free or local numbers if they are available in your area. Davinci can even purchase your existing phone number, or set up a vanity number ($100 set-up fee).

The features and services included depend on the plan you have purchased:

  • The Business Communications plan includes call screening, call forwarding, automated receptionist, voicemail management, online faxing, long-distance calling, and audio conferencing. 
  • With the Premium Communications plan, the live receptionists will schedule your appointments, process orders, make outbound calls, do administrative tasks, and handle complex call flows. Bilingual receptionists are also only available. 

Davinci also offers a virtual phone locating service – Find Me Follow Me. It allows callers to reach you by dialing only one virtual number. Depending on your business hours setting, the call may be forwarded to your desk, home, or cell phone – or all of them at the same time. If you don’t answer, the caller will have the option to leave a voicemail. 

Unfortunately, Davinci does not provide live after-hours answering services. They only answer calls Monday to Friday, 8 am – 8 pm EST. However, the automated phone system will route your calls 24/7. 

Davinci has four Live Receptionists pricing plans:

  • Business 50 (50 live minutes) – $99/month
  • Business 100 (100 live minutes) – $239/month
  • Premium 50 (50 live minutes) – $249/month
  • Premium 100 (100 live minutes) – $319/month 

There is a one time $95 set-up fee for Live Receptionist Services and a one time $50 set-up fee for Live Web Chat.

Moneypenny
Moneypenny

BEST FOR

Micro-business answering service

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  • Online client portal
  • Mobile app
  • Live chat
  • Custom pricing

Moneypenny is an outsourced phone answering service, with offices in the US and the UK. 

The default working time of the receptionists is 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday, however, a 24/7 answering service is also offered. Clients receive a local or toll-free number, and the receptionists can either take over all calls or only those the clients can’t handle themselves. 

You can control which calls will be answered, which callers and VIP, and which are blacklisted. 

Moneypenny only charges clients for live calls – there is no charge for dead air calls or ones where the caller hangs up immediately. 

Besides business answering services, Moneypenny also offers a 24/7 business live chat service. The live chat box is added to your official website. 

A one week trial is available, after which a three-month minimum contract can be purchased. The contract can be canceled with a one month notice.

VoiceNation
VoiceNation

BEST FOR

Answering service for lawyers

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  • Mobile app
  • Bilingual operators
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Dedicated account manager

VoiceNation is a telecommunications company whose team of US-based agents provide live chat and live answering services 24/7/365. 

Is it the best live answering service for small business companies though?

Let’s see. 

To get started, choose your number. You can get a local or toll-free number. You can even keep your existing one and forward it to VoiceNation. 

Once your plan is activated, you can customize the call script for your operators using the VoiceNation dashboard. A mobile app is also available. The client portal and the app allow you to manage your account, view call reports, and track minutes. Every plan comes with a dedicated account manager

Once your account is set up and the script has been customized, VoiceNation operators start handling your calls. Your virtual receptionists can take your messages, forward important calls, process orders, screen your calls for solicitors – basically everything an in-house receptionist would do. 

The variety of professional live answering services offered put VoiceNation among the best answering service for small business owners. However, if we had to pick a specific industry, we would name VoiceNation as the best answering service for legal practices

The team has a lot of experience with attorneys and law practices, not to mention the legal intake services they offer. VoiceNation bilingual receptionists can provide 24/7 professional legal intake service and immediately relay them to your firm. 

Besides serving legal practices, VoiceNation can provide professional answering services to companies working in the following industries: 

  • Medical
  • Real estate
  • Digital marketing
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Property management 
  • Construction
  • HVAC
  • Pest control and many more!

Virtual Nations offers five different plans with no setup fees or contracts. The plans are on a month to month basis.

The cost ranges from $39/month for the Basic plan to $799/month for the Enterprise plan. Additional minutes cost extra. A 7-day free trial (30 minutes) is available and no credit card information is required to start the trial. 

Map Communications
Map Communications

BEST FOR

Answering service for growing businesses

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  • Client portal
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Spanish answering services
  • Disaster recovery answering service

Map Communications provides nationwide call center and phone answering services to small, medium, and big businesses alike. The company’s extensive client list features some of the biggest companies in the USA, leaving no doubt in their ability to provide the best telephone answering service

As is the case with other providers, MAP Communications lets you choose a toll-free or local number. The company can then take over all of your calls (24/7/365), or you can go with its affordable after-hours package, to ensure you are available outside your regular business hours. 

Clients have access to a secure portal: allowing them to benefit from real-time reporting and other online tools. The call script is fully customizable, and immediate message delivery is available after each call. 

MAP Communications bilingual operators are trained to work in a variety of industries: from providing HIPAA compliant answering services to handling reservations in the hospitality industry – they can do it.

Clients can choose from the following pricing plans:

  • Standard (0 minutes) – $39/month ($1.15 per additional minute)
  • Business (125 minutes) – $149/month ($1.09 per additional minute)
  • Executive (225 minutes) – $249/month ($1.07 per additional minute)

A 7-day free trial is also available – no credit card info or deposit required. During the trial, the call volume is assessed and this can help you find the right plan for your business. If you have a higher call volume, MAP Communications can create a custom plan for you.

What Is an Answering Service?

Answering service companies handle business calls on behalf of their clients. They are a few different types of answering services: automated, live (virtual receptionists), or even call centers with a full customer service team. The typical small business phone answering service is provided by automated attendants and virtual receptionists. 

Automated answering services are usually based on an interactive voice response system. The caller hears a prerecorded greeting and is instructed on which dials to press in order to be transferred to the appropriate department.

A company that uses a live answering service, hires virtual receptionists or outsourced employees. Instead of hiring an in-house receptionist, small business companies can give instructions to remote employees which will act as a receptionist and handle the calls. Virtual receptionists can forward calls, take messages, schedule appointments, etc. 

What Are the Benefits of Using an Answering Service? 

Here are the main advantages of using a business phone answering service:

Cut down costs

One of the main reasons small businesses outsource certain services is to cut down on costs. Having in-house receptionists requires resources: a yearly salary, an office, office equipment, etc. A good way to cut down costs is to hire an outsourced service. 

Improve customer relations

Employees in business communication are trained professionals. They have customer service training and social skills: which means that they will always greet your callers in a professional manner and will be able to handle even the most difficult customers. 

Increase efficiency and productivity

The constant ringing of the phone can distract your employees. If you don’t have a separate office for your receptionists, the best option is to hire a remote receptionist.

Never miss an important business call

A missed business call can mean a missed client, a missed business opportunity, missed profit… The best answering service companies have a way around this: 24/7 availability, forwarding important calls and relaying important messages, after-hours setups, voicemail management, and more options that ensure all your calls go answered. 

How to Choose the Best Answering Service

Your industry and specific company needs will determine what best answering service for your business is. Having that in mind, we have created a simple buyer’s guide which lists all the factors you need to consider.

Live or automated?

In general, customers prefer speaking with a live call agent. However, an automated attendant may be a good option if you have a simple ‘menu tree’ or only need a system that will route the call to the appropriate department or employee. It’s also great if you prefer to have all calls outside business hours forwarded to your personal phone number. Other than that, most business owners (and customers!) would agree that the best phone answering service is provided by live, friendly, and professional call agents or receptionists. 

Business hours, after hours, or 24/7?

When it comes to availability, as a business owner you have three options:

  • Use an answering service that will handle your calls during business hours
  • Use an after-hours answering service and have in house employees handle business hours calls
  • Use a 24/7/365 answering service

Certain industries do need to be available at all times, which is why the best answering service for small business companies handle calls round the clock and all year long. Even if you don’t receive calls during weekends and evenings, you may want to extend your hours in order to grow your business – and in that case, all you would need to do is upgrade your plan. 

Privacy and Security 

Businesses that process orders need call agents that are equipped to handle payment information. Medical practices need an answering service that is HIPAA compliant. The privacy and security of client data is another important factor when choosing the best answering service for your company. 

Lead capture, order processing, appointment scheduling?

The companies we reviewed offer various types of answering services for businesses. Before purchasing a plan, make sure the company you chose truly fits your needs.

English and/or Spanish?

Bilingual support is becoming standard, though not every answering service offers it. Increase your client base by offering bilingual support. 

Wrap Up 

Outsourcing a virtual receptionist has many benefits: extended business hours, potential new leads, not to mention cost savings. 

Our curated list will help you find the best business answering service and reap all those benefits! We promise you’ll be more than happy with the results.

 

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FAQ

What is an automated answering service?

Automated answering services use interactive voice response (IVR) technology. This type of phone system uses voice recordings to interact with callers, and the callers use their keypad in the phone call. 

Example: Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Spanish.

Why do companies use automated phone systems?

The neverending press 1 and press 2 cycle is frustrating for consumers. It is no surprise that most of us are wondering why companies still use it.

An automated phone system will never provide the same level of service as a customer service representative. However, it is a good way for companies to handle a large volume of calls, reduce costs, and have the calls automatically transferred to the right department. 

If the automated phone system has simple and straightforward phone tree menus, it can represent an efficient call routing solution.

What is the best answering service?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to answering services. To find the best answering service for your business, have a look at our recommendations. If you still don’t find what you need, follow the tips in our buyer’s guide to find the right match for you.