Last updated on March 9th, 2019 at 09:34 am
An answering service is one of the most rewarding solutions for any small business.
It’s responsible for creating the first impression about the business to a customer, and therefore it can either make or break a business.
That’s why it’s important to have the best answering service out there.
An answering service can often be the face of your business, and so selecting the best answering services ensures that the integrity and reputation of your company.
When choosing a reliable answering service, you must consider features and pricing. We researched on the top answering services and compared them closely.
#1 Answering Service: Ruby Receptionists
With a perfect reputation and arguably the best service in the answering industry, Ruby Receptionists are the best match for your small business.
They boast an unbeatable quality, offer many features, and guarantee customer and employee satisfaction.
The quality of service they offer is the closest thing you can get to a real receptionist, and therefore give your organization the perfect image.
Comparing Ruby Receptionists, VoiceNation, MAP Communication[table “23” not found /]
Ruby Receptionists: The Pros
An answering service stands between the business and the customer and this implies that the receptionist needs to do the work right.
Providing information and answering questions correctly to make client satisfied is important. The Ruby Receptionist system will assure your business will perform unlike any competing services.
- Advanced features:
Ruby provides you with an answering service that really caters to your convenience. With their service, the system can make outbound calls and answer clients on your behalf even when it comes to appointment confirmations.
It can also fill single page forms on the web, a feature that you will not find with most competitors.
- The set-up is done over the phone. You get to direct how the calls are handled with prompt questions. Through this, the service saves you the hassle of drafting instructions that may be complicated. Such features make it easy and quick to get started.
Ruby Receptionists: The Cons
- It is costly. Ruby offers the best service but with relatively high cost, one must consider if this service . For 100 minutes, your cost is $249 for a month. This is expensive since it is a double cost when compared to the competitor VoiceNation.
- Ruby does not operate on a 24/7 basis. The active service spans from 5AM to 6PM on weekday only. The rest of the time the calls go straight to voicemail. This could be inconvenient for a business operating all through the week.
- The advanced features offered with Ruby can also be offered by other services at a very low cost.
The Ruby setup is done over the phone. First you have to submit the business and account details online.
After that, you receive a call from Ruby and a representative helps you setup the answering details. Ruby extends the setup to allow natural conversation for most calls instead of using a script.
MAP Communications provide a cheap and a reliable service. With a 24/7 operation, this gives a small business a credible option. As a cost friendly solution, it also provides a variety of features.
MAP delivers excellence and is a direct competitor of Ruby Receptionists. The receptionists can schedule appointments and speak with clients directly, even when they are away from their office.
With well-defined instructions or call script, the receptionists can perform simple and basic tasks. For example, providing direction and on websites or giving directions from any location to the company’s office.
Their customized service will result in good feedback, which will provide a good impression on your clients.
Following the instructions will be a demanding process at first, but the effort will be rewarding in the long run.
This is done both over the phone and through email. The basic messaging setup can be setup in just one day.
The call scripts and call forwarding setup is a bit more complicated and this process could take a few days. The instructions are then submitted over email.
This answering service offers a bright side to Ruby’s high monthly cost, although it does not have all the features provided by Ruby.
VoiceNation offers a reliable service when it comes to answering calls and taking messages.
A major benefit of VoiceNation is that it offers various plans that you can choose from, depending on your budget.
You could also select a package depending on the amount of calls your business gets, which means your small business can scale up as it grows.
The basic package gives you 30 minutes of basic messaging at a cost of $30/month. With this package, the system will answer calls and take messages. However, its limited in that it will not connect you with clients.
A larger package at the cost of $130/month for 100 minutes allows for transfer of calls, web form and order form submission. It also has a FAQ answering feature.
The FAQ’s do need to be hosted on your site though to ensure accuracy. The web forms must be one page, cannot have a password, and must allow direct retrieval.
Setting up VoiceNation is done online. The first step is submitting your business and account details together with the type of plan you wish to subscribe to. The next step entails using a link sent to your email to create the script (follow the instructions).
Other Top Answering Services
With a pay-as-you-go at the rate of $1/call and no additional charges, AnswerAmerica offers basic services for small businesses and an affordable package.
The services are also offered 24 hours a day and therefore reliable when it comes to availability.
AnswerAmerica has no additional features except for relaying very basic information like location and hours of service. The reliability of the service is average, since it takes a little while to answer the phone and your client may be on hold for a little while.
The user reviews are somewhat negative, users who used this service had some complaints, but many also liked Answer America.
Some issues may include incorrect information communicate to clients, which can be a liability. However, Answer America provides a pay per call option, something many of their clients loved.
Given the basic services offered, the setup is simple too. This happens online and all you need is a short script for greetings and the call forwarding instructions.
For a small business, the MoneyPenny option gives a premium service that gives you a single dedicated receptionist to handle the whole organization’s answering services.
This is an advantageous feature that will work well with small business firms. This service is however disadvantageous in the following ways:
- It is costly. The price of this service is close to Ruby and yet the features provided are not as much as those provided by Ruby.
- The advanced features are minimal. Despite the high pricing, the receptionist is limited to a single dedicated one. At the same this answering service doesn’t provide the form filling option or outbound calls to the clients.
- This is a new answering service. The quality of service cannot be well established in the short time it has operated. The users service are not as much and therefore the reviews on the same are limited.
Moneypenny works well in the traditional receptionist setting. An organization looking an answering service to be integrated to their Helpdesk systems would rather consider the other answering services for this reason.
At the same time, Moneypenny is only available from 8:30am to 6pm for normal service and a 24/7 service requires an extra of $125/month.
The service offers a free trial of 7 days unlike most of the competitors giving you enough period to assess the quality of service and if it suits your business.
The setup also takes place on the phone. The business is assigned a dedicated receptionist. The receptionist helps setup your call answering.
The conversation will entail questions asked by the receptionist in order to customize your answering greeting and make it sound professional.
AnswerConnect is a US based answering service that provides a good option to replacing the answering machine with a live receptionist.
With a low cost compared to other services, it would be preferable for a small business operating on a 24/7 basis.
AnswerConnect’s service gives you advanced features in all their packages and is closely ranked to MAP Communications.
Their services include appointment scheduling, confirmation of order forms, filling of web forms, as well as the client help.
It also offers a live chat feature, which enhances the client-firm communication. This can be integrated into the company’s website, which is used by the receptionists during calls with clients.
The entire setup is done online. This is when you outline your account information in a 30 minute call.
You will provide instructions and scripts for this answering service so you can be up and running in no time.
Features by AnswerConnect
- Messages and voicemail
This feature lets the client leave a message with the receptionist and sends a message via text or email.
This allows you to have a record of left messages and can be read later on. You can then response to your clients quickly, even if you are away from your office.
- Find me/Follow me
There are situations where you will need a call from the office for certain circumstances, the service allows you to set up instructions to help in such cases under the executable instructions.
- Mobile application and an online platform
You have access to your messages, calls log and history, the billing information and provided online. The service also has application for both android and iOS platform.
- Phone email and live chat
These are part of the features and they are all available past normal business hours, except the live chat which may get delayed feedback (depending on the platform available).
However, the advanced features of AnswerConnect present a few flaws. The quality of service is a little compromised.
Reviews on the scheduling service show that a number of appointments were scheduled on the wrong time zone.
The receptionists also require a little effort and time before they gain consistency in the answering service and this can be disvaluing to an organization.
If you consider this a good option for your business, the packages are offered as follows:
- 150 minutes for $150 and +97 cents per an additional minute.
- 250 minutes for $200 plus an additional +95 cents/minute.
- 500 minutes for $400 with +93 cents/minute extra cost.
- 800 minutes for $630 and +93 cents/minute extra cost.
This packages consist of all the advanced features offered by the AnswerConnect and the minutes offered are accounted with both calls.
Live chats and the time used to transfer calls. Billing is done monthly and for the first three months you are required to pay upfront.
For another $10/month the messages can faxed to you rather than emailed and at $30/month you get a call from the receptionist that relays messages verbally as soon as they are left rather than messaging them.
Best Phone Answering Service: Package Prices
Given the different rates offered by the different answering services, the comparison equation becomes a little complicated.
We chose a standard service for all answering services and with the equivalent cost they offer for the service, we compared their cost. We took a case study of 150 minutes per month to determine what each would cost.
The minutes are inclusive of the time the receptionists are talking to clients as well as the ringing time to transfer the calls. The comparison ranks the three major services as follows:
- The cheapest among them all is VoiceNation that costs $177.50/month for the 150 minutes.
- Map Communications offers the same minutes at a cost of $221.30/month.
- The most expensive of the three is Ruby Receptionists that charges $373 per month which is as twice as expensive as the cheapest receptionist, VoiceNation.
Individual Packages for Answering Services
VoiceNation offers different packages as follows:
The cheapest package is a messaging service that costs $30/month. This are minutes for the receptionist talking only and doesn’t give transfers. This allows the receptionists to take only a message for you.
The other packages are:
- $95/month for 50 minutes
- $130/month for 100 minutes
- $230/month for 250 minutes
All three packages offer a full answering service which allows you will get calls forwarded to the respective person in the business.
For additional time on any plans you are charged $0.95 per minute. A setup fee of $75 is charged initially for all the plans.
MAP Communications packages
This is paid in a customary manner in that you pay for the minutes that you want and as well as the features you want. The offered packages are the following.
The basic messaging service costs from $42/month for 30 minutes. This is the package in which the receptionists take messages but will not forward the calls.
The other package termed to as a “scripted service” offers the advanced features at a cost starting from $50+1.11/minute.
If the business desires the additional feature of forwarding the calls to a personal phone or the office phone.
The cost is the same as the scripted service but with an additional cost of $0.15/minute which makes it $50+1.26/minute.
A training fee of $100/month is charged to the business if it has a hard set of instructions or script for the receptionists.
This could also apply when the business requires that the receptionist use a custom program that is not pre-trained.
Ruby has basically three packages as highlighted below:
- 100 minutes at a cost of $249/month with an additional cost of $2.49/minute.
- 200 minutes for $409/month. The additional cost is $2.05/minute for the extra minutes.
- 500 minutes for $819/month. This package applies an additional cost of $1.64/minute when the initial minutes are exhausted.
Major Tasks for Receptionists
Your business can benefit from the following basic functionalities of an answering service:
- Receive messages from clients. The messages can then be sent to your phone through a text message or delivered to your email.
- Receptionists allow you to transfer calls to other phones in the business.
- Answering of the frequently asked questions through structured instructions. This would be basic questions like the organization location and basic services that are offered by the business.
- Filling of web page forms that are on a single page, confirm orders by clients and also adding lead to the organization Customer Relationship Management(CRM).
These are the basic features but advanced features are offered by certain receptionists and this is at a higher cost as detailed in the individual review.
The Reputation of the Receptionists
It is well understood the image of the company is upheld by a good first impression when clients call a business.
The receptionists handle most of the customer care requests and inquiries, thereby implying that the answering service should give accurate and reliable information.
This helps you retain customers and bring in new clients as well.
All three major receptionists listed here were given overall positive reviews. This means they were professional and can be trusted as a great service.
By closely analyzing the user reviews, VoiceNation provided an excellent experience based on no calls being “left behind” and a reliable transfer of calls.
The quality of service provided by VoiceNation was so good that we barely witnessed any low ratings at all.
The only downside to the service is that they may not be available in your area, so check before you sign up.
Some reviews online also mentioned that some some operators were great, while others who answered the phone had poor training and inconsistent scheduling.
MAP Communications is also a dedicated call center like its competitor VoiceNation.
The reviews from customers revealed that they successfully followed the call scripts and instructions.
As you know, if the answering service does not have answer to some basic questions, clients can become dissatisfied. Make sure your receptionist closely adhere to the your instructions.
Being that it is an expensive answering service, Ruby is expected to deliver excellence. The user reviews confirmed an excellent rating and service.
The customers indicated that the service offers friendly and helpful information. Ruby’ service is handy in solving problems associated with the business.
The employees’ reviews were mostly positive and mentioned they enjoy working at the company. It showed that they were dedicated to helping and providing a good experience to clients.
Best Phone Answering Service: Our Final Take
An answering service is helpful to your employees and clients as well. Your business needs to uphold a positive reputation at all times.
This is the first step in customer service and helps your organization keep a positive image in your industry.
For many businesses, the best answering services will also help maximize profitability. What do you look for in an answering service?
The WiseSmallBusiness Team is full of industry experts and successful business owners willing to contribute important business articles.