If you’re ready to increase your customer satisfaction, reduce your staff’s stress and focus on doing what to you do better (and best!), then working with an answering service can be a great choice.

However, as you start to shop for answering service options, you may notice a stark difference when it comes to how different answering services determine their pricing. It’s hard to compare apples to apples when you’re dealing with so many different pricing structures.

For example, some companies may offer a low monthly fee – but only cover a certain number of calls per month before charging on a per call basis and have a steep start up fee to begin with. Others waive the start up fee and offer a standard per-call fee so customers can pay as you go, but charge more for perks.

The best way to start shopping for answering services based on price is to consider your own needs first. What are you looking for in an answering service?

  • Do you need live receptionists to handle incoming calls around the clock?
  • Do you want receptionists to handle appointment setting or just route calls through?
  • Do you need virtual receptionists to handle basic customer support issues or take orders?
  • Is there special training on your industry and call types that you’d like your answering service professionals to receive?
  • Do you call recording or message taking services that will help you and your team get messages as soon as possible?

All of these factors will determine how much you pay for answering services, so you can’t really determine the true value of an answering service’s rates unless you understand your own needs. From there, you can compare what different answering services offer and figure out if they have what you need as a reasonable price.

Different services, different needs, different pricing. Answering services price their services based on how much support they’ll need to offer you in terms of call volume, and what type of additional services you may need. They may charge extra for different types of calls – they’ll need to put a different tier of virtual receptionists on your account if you need them to offer tech support or advanced services, versus just having someone answer and route calls.

Look for answering services that offer package pricing on services that you’ll need. Packages can often save you money on services as a whole, and allow answering services to give you a better rate for the essentials.

Evaluate your needs, call and ask questions of any answering service you’re considering and then you’ll be able to compare true apples to apples.