Small businesses have limited time, and answering customer calls yourself takes your attention away from actually running the business. The problem is that diverting calls to voicemail often gives off the wrong impression.
Automated answering services can help and allow you to receive calls and relay messages, all with that personal touch. Below we’ve assembled the best automated answering services that money can buy.
The Top 5 Best Automated Answering Services
- VoiceNation — The Best for Immediate Activation
- SAS — The Best Call Receptionists
- Davinci — The Best for Administrative Task Assistance
- Ruby — The Best Mobile App
- BPO American — The Best Customizable Service
Those are our top picks for the best automated answering services. Let’s take a closer look.
VoiceNation — The Best for Immediate Activation
- Instant activation service
- Account manager on all plans
- Mobile app for portable management
- Easy custom call scripting
VoiceNation is the ideal answering service for small businesses that need to get up and running as quickly as possible.
VoiceNation stands out because it can start taking calls as soon as you finish the sign-up process. There’s no need to wait 24 hours like other answering services commonly require—you simply start using it.
Instant activation is just one part of the attractive offer, though, and all VoiceNation plans include an account manager available when you need them. There’s also message delivery by voicemail, email, or text, a complete mobile app to manage things on the go, as well as straightforward custom call scripting.
You’ll have access to analytics that can further your business, and there are no contracts or setup fees either.
The Basic tier of VoiceNation starts at $59 per month for 20 receptionist minutes, and its plans go up to $889 per month for 600 receptionist minutes on the Enterprise tier. A 7-day free trial is also available and gives you 30 minutes as well as 24/7 live answering, basic message taking, and instant activation.
SAS — The Best Call Receptionists
- Highly trained call agents
- Toll-free 1-800 numbers
- Simple live relay service
- SSL message data encryption
SAS is widely known for its excellent service and is available to help small businesses 24/7/365. While you’ll be able to find good call agents elsewhere, SAS has over 300 employees with years of experience, its agents get trained twice as long, and they can take your calls every day of the year.
SAS directly assigns a highly trained live representative to cover you while you spend time elsewhere. The receptionists are bilingual and can speak both English and Spanish. You also get toll-free 1-800 numbers, a live relay service, and live phone ticketing. If you need more or less from SAS, you can choose to upgrade or downgrade your service at any time.
On the pricing side, eight scalable plans are available, with the “Economy” plan set at $34 per month + $1.29 per used minute, going up to $8599 per month + $0.89 per additional minute on the “10,000 Minute” plan. All calls are protected with SSL encryption to keep data safe, and there are no cancellation fees.
A free trial gives you full access to the software (and call agents) for two weeks or when your 200 minutes run out. No credit card is required.
Davinci — The Best for Administrative Task Assistance
- Admin task assistance service
- Multiple toll-free numbers
- Unlimited long-distance calling
- Custom hold music
Davinci is a virtual office and receptionist answering service for those needing help with administrative tasks. In fact, Davinci is one of the very few answering services that provide it in the first place.
On the premium plans, you get a dedicated receptionist who can perform admin tasks such as scheduling deliveries, planning travel, confirming appointments, handling calendars, and even processing orders—this gets charged at per-minute increments. For those small businesses who want to work smarter, it’s more than handy.
On top of that, Davinci offers a toll-free 888, 855, 866, or 877 number, which gets applied to your phone or fax line, unlimited long-distance calling so you can talk to customers whenever you want, and a voicemail management system that enables custom hold music.
Prices start at $129 per month for 50 live answer minutes on the “Business 50” tier and go up to $319 per month for 100 live answer minutes on the “Premium 100” plan. Only the premium, more expensive plans include admin assistance, customer care, outbound calls, FAQs, and complex call flows.
Unfortunately, no free trial is available, and there’s a $95 one-time setup fee. You’ll also have to wait up to two business days for activation. Despite these drawbacks, you get a solid service, which offers great value for the right business.
Ruby — The Best Mobile App
- Mobile app call forwarding
- Greet and screen callers
- HIPAA-compliant service
- All plans include mobile app
Ruby is a trusted answering service that can help you grow your sales and better use that all-important thing we call time. Of particular note is its mobile app, which can seamlessly forward calls to virtual receptionists, take messages in the form of voicemails and text, and stay connected to clients with real-time notifications.
Moreover, the mobile app can access call records and messages sent from receptionists, and you can make calls or receive texts from your business line while keeping your number private. You can even set your status in the app, and receptionists will change how the calls get handled.
The app can place an outbound call on your behalf and is available on both iOS and Android.
With Ruby, you’re getting a lot more besides that. Receptionists can greet and screen callers, answer questions, and schedule appointments, and you can customize greetings so that agents accurately represent your business and its values.
Plans start at $219 per month for up to 50 receptionist minutes on the Ruby 50 tier and go up to $1499 per month for up to 500 receptionist minutes on the Ruby 500 level. It’s important to note that all Ruby plans include the mobile app, voicemail transcriptions, live-transferring, personalized greetings, and a customer success team.
There’s no free trial, although one extra is that you can opt-in for a HIPAA-compliant service, so messages, voicemails, and call details are available in the app and online portal alone.
Ruby provides a 21-day money-back guarantee. It’s best to reach out for a bespoke plan that covers the features your business needs most.
BPO American — The Best Customizable Service
- Custom call packages
- Ask five personalized questions
- Instant activation service
- Only pay for what you use
BPO American is the best service if you need to be able to customize what you want from an automated answering service precisely. It offers six different pricing plans for various call volumes, and you can develop entire custom packages for specific needs.
You can choose to purchase blocks of minutes in bulk at $0.85 per minute, and there’s the ability to ask five custom questions to keep clients happy while you’re away.
The service also offers both answering and call center services, as well as hard-to-find instant activation. You can add other popular services, too, such as appointment settings, live web chat, and order taking—the option to mix and match is easy.
The operators are highly experienced, helping callers create new orders and reducing the risk of cart abandonment or general customer confusion. Additionally, you can set up live transfers, so agents transfer a call to the appropriate party if a caller needs to speak to someone in your business.
Plans start at $29 per month for 25 minutes of service with text message and email delivery, transfers, and a $1.09 per minute rate and go up to $369 per month for 425 minutes with a 75 cents per minute rate. The call center services require a quote from a sales representative and a $750 setup fee, although most small businesses won’t need this.
BPO American uses one-second increments, so it never rounds calls up to the nearest minute, and you only ever pay for the time you use—this is different from the six-second billing increments found across most of the industry.
A three-day free trial follows activation and includes all available features.
How To Find the Best Automated Answering Services For You
When we think about automated answering services, it’s important to understand the difference between answering services and call center services and those that offer everything in-between.
The key distinction is that call center services are (almost) always for larger, more established companies while answering services better suit small businesses and niche industries, such as attorneys or those in the medical industry.
From there, we can break things down further. There are automated answering services that provide some call center features and those that don’t offer any, preferring to focus on small business features throughout the entirety of the service.
Some businesses will need more of the hybrid approach, while others will prefer just a standard answering service. On our list, most of the services we picked are geared towards small businesses, although BPO American offers various features for many different business sizes.
Most automated answering services will offer an interactive voice response—the central part—in addition to a live answering service where agents answer calls and represent your company. A 24-hour answering service typically costs more because you gain access to a remote receptionist for every call.
With those differences discussed, it’s critical to think about the following areas to arrive at the best automated answering service for you.
Type of Operator
One of the most critical areas to consider is the type of operator you require for your business. While you can just opt for an automated voice response service, these don’t provide that crucial personal touch. Instead, operators (or agents) can take calls and ensure customers get suitably taken care of overall.
The type of operator you need is essential to get right. For example, some businesses will need a lively and energetic operator, while medical practices and funeral homes will need calm and composed call agents. The aim, of course, is to represent your company correctly, so take time to get this part right.
Lastly, and below that, be sure that all operators can adapt to the caller’s needs, regardless of the industry. Look for those with experience and extensive training for the best results.
24/7 Service vs. Set Times
The best automated answering services tend to be those that can cover your business 24/7, so things flow smoothly at all times of the day. A service that extends all day and night will be vital to some companies.
That said, other businesses will just want a service between set times, such as between 9-5, or to cover evenings. Remember that 24/7 services cost more, so you’ll need to factor that into your budget if you need it.
An important area, but perhaps less so, is whether you need to have an online interface or not. For example, some answering services offer a text or fax transmission of messages without the ability to check them online or via a mobile app.
Most businesses want to see current and past messages, and services with a web portal or mobile app give you more control.
Of course, not all businesses will need an online interface, and the price tends to increase with the additional functionality. Be sure to consider the type of interface and functionality you need.
The Top Automated Answering Services in Summary
Automated answering services help businesses create the right impression and boost sales, allowing you to spend time elsewhere.
VoiceNation is a smart choice for an instant setup, while SAS provides the best call agents to keep things professional. Ruby offers a powerful mobile app so you can deal with calls on the go, while Davinci throws in admin task assistance on its premium plans. For service customization, you can’t go far wrong with BPO American.