This is part two in a two-part series. Read part one here.

When we are asked “How much do your answering services cost?” there is, of course no one-size-fits-all price answer.

In part one of this series, we talked about different pricing structures and related fees for answering services. In this part, we continue with our explanation and advice on how, where and why to compare prices and related fees.

Usage-based Services & Charges

Usage-based services take a different approach than do flat rates.

You pay a low monthly rate for access to the service at the beginning of the month, and then at the end of the month you are billed for your actual usage. Typically, the usage rate is billed on a per minute basis – which means that you won’t be dinged for hang ups and short calls. Your recurring base rate plus your minutes of usage will create your monthly cost for answering services. Your costs may be slightly different from month to month depending on your call volume, but over time you’ll develop a good idea of how much answering services really cost. In addition, you’ll be able to save money during any “off peak” seasons when your call volume is lower.

Other Charges

The final piece of the answering service pricing puzzle is special features and services. Depending on which virtual receptionist service you choose, you may have the option for extras like:

  • Appointment scheduling – Virtual receptionists can take incoming calls and schedule consultations, service visits and other appointments for your staff.
  • Ecommerce fulfillment – Your answering service can handle all incoming orders as well as provide updates on order fulfillment to callers on an as needed basis.
  • Technical support – If your incoming callers frequently need help with basic tech problems, you can work with your virtual answering service to cover Tier 1 tech support needs.
  • Fax to Email – Incoming faxes still happen – but you don’t have to be at (or even have) a fax machine to receive them. With this option, you answering service can provide a fax line that will automatically send incoming messages directly to email.

Figuring out answering service pricing is simple when you know what to look for. By evaluating your business’s call history and typical volume, you can present any answering service with an accurate picture of your needs. From there, you can gather quotes from multiple answering services – being sure to consider the differences between flat rate and usage based services. Then you can truly make an apples-to-apples comparison of answering services and find the right virtual receptionist solution for your company.