Choosy business owners are meticulous about the companies they partner with.

Cost isn’t the first thing they look at, instead they want a good value for their money. It’s easy enough with some services, but when it comes to pricing answering services, things can get a little stickier. Sometimes trying to compare the prices of services is like comparing apples to oranges to lemons to trucks.

If you’re armed with the right questions, though, you can take all the information you’ve been gathering and use it to help sort out which answering service company is right for you, at the right price.

The Value of Answering Services

Price should never be the only decision point when you’re looking for an answering service, but it is something to be very aware of. After all, you want your answering service partner to ultimately provide a decent return on your investment.

It can be difficult to compare answering service quotes, since they often measure using different metrics, but asking these questions may give you a clearer picture. 

  1. Do you price individual services or do I have to buy a package?
    Answering services have a lot of different ways to price their services. Some will stick to pre-designed packages that are supposed to be a good fit for many different businesses at different levels of need. These often give you a set number of minutes and then charge you for any additional minutes.Your access to services may be limited with these packages, which is why so many people prefer to use companies that will quote customized services, essentially letting you build your own package from scratch.
  2. Are you charging by the call or the minute?
    This matters a lot. When you’re comparing apples to tractor tires, it’s hard to know which company is actually the best value. Companies that charge by the minute are easier to compare to one another, but companies that charge by the call might be a better value for your business. Find out how long that “call” is, so you can compare it to a per-minute offer. If your company tends to handle lengthy calls, the per call rate could be better than the per-minute rate.
  3. What billing increments do you use?
    When dealing with an answering service that charges by the minute, it’s vital to know what their billing increments are. There’s a huge difference in pricing at the end of the month between a company that bills in five second increments and one that charges in one minute increments. Make sure you know the difference.
  4. Do you have a minimum charge?
    Very small businesses or those that do most of their work via email and messaging may need an answering service once in a while, but not daily. In these cases, you should ask if there’s a minimum call volume or minimum charge that you’ll be rubbing up against. It’s one thing to expect to only pay for your calls and another to find out that you have to pay for your calls, or a minimum fee, depending on which is larger.
  5. Are there additional setup fees or other fees I should be aware of?
    It’s always good to ask about extra or even hidden fees. Setup fees are to be expected, especially if your needs are complex, but there shouldn’t be much in the way of other fees outside of your quote. If there are, find out what they’re for, that way you can compare these fees to those of other companies you’re interviewing.

When you’re looking for the best answering service, look for the one that’s best for the money. Choosing a cut-rate answering service company that has little in the way of options and can’t grow with your business will just create more work for you and limit your endless potential.