How Much Does an Answering Service Cost and What Are Common Hidden Fees?

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Be sure to read this article if you’re on the hunt for an affordable and quality answering and messaging service. Being in the telecommunication’s industry for 3 decades, we have compiled the most common questions to how much does an answering service cost and what are the common fees hidden in fine print.

Here at A Courteous Communications, we have no hidden agendas and love giving you behind-the-scenes access into our call center. Let’s get started!

How much does an answering service cost?

Basic Answering Service Rates

Every business answering service that you interview will have a basic, flat rate charge to answer your incoming calls. This rate varies as several factors are taken into consideration when quoting services to you. Factors include your:

  • Average Monthly Call Volume
  • Level of Information Needed from Callers
  • Industry, Field or Specialty
  • Need for Custom Services Offered (scheduling, FAQ handling, dispatching calls, etc.)

Since all of these factors contribute to an accurate answering service quote for your business, let’s just skim through the most basic and universal packages offered.

Low User Basic Answering Service

Monthly Fee: $19.95

Per Call Fee: $0.45

If your business telephone lines only ring every so often, the low user basic service package will be suitable for you. This low cost package is ideal for new businesses that just need phone coverage while they’re first starting out. An ecommerce business that does most of their transactions on-line may also fit into this category.

All of our low user and low volume customer accounts are gifted 50 free calls a month.

• Basic Answering Service

Monthly Fee: $49.00

Per Call Fee: $0.45

This basic answering service package is our most popular amongst small and midsized businesses. You have a low to midrange caller volume and only need to gather basic information from your callers. This package is also ideal if you already have an in-house receptionist but need phone coverage after-hours and throughout the weekend.

All of our basic answering service customers enjoy 100 completely free calls per month from our digital call center.

• Specialty Answering Service

Monthly Fee: $49.00

Per Minute Fee: $0.78

A specialty answering service is ideal for businesses that require more than the basic name, telephone number and reason for calling message. If you’re needing a virtual receptionist to add appointments to your calendar, process payment information, book tables in your restaurant or answer your office’s frequently asked questions, this package is for you. Professional offices like law, accounting and brokerage firms that would like to offer 24-hour client services can benefit greatly from this package.

With this specialty package, A Courteous Communications will gift you 60 minutes of customer service support each month.

• Medical Answering Service

Monthly Fee: $59.00

Per Call Fee: $0.55

If you’re a doctor, physician’s office, hospital or medical facility, price is important but there are other important factors to consider as well. You will need a medical answering service that is HIPAA compliant; offers secure message delivery systems; and, provides empathetic and compassionate patient services. We first started A Courteous Communication back in 1986 with just 1 virtual receptionist (the owner and founder of our call center) answering for 1 physician’s office. Now, we have the honor of answering and handling millions upon millions of medical calls each year.

All of our medical professionals enjoy 100 complimentary medical calls per month in this package.

As you can see, “How much does an answering service cost?” is not as simple of a question as you might have previously thought. Click here to check out our competitive packages and review them in detail.

Standard Message Delivery Fees

We have now accounted for the cost of the actual answering, messaging and custom services available. You may not realize, but most answering services will also bill you for delivering your messages to you. This is a standard message delivery fee but try to outsource to a business answering service that charges you a monthly fee for the delivery of all your messages.

For instance, here at A Courteous Communications we charge a monthly flat rate fee of $5 to deliver all of your messages in real-time. This monthly fee is added to whatever service package you select. You have the choice of getting your messages delivered via email, text or facsimile. Stay clear of call centers that try to charge you a “per message” delivery fee.

Common Hidden Fee: Monthly Maintenance

Be sure to check the maintenance, activation and other setup fees. A state of the art digital call center will employ an on-site equipment technician; we do! But a call center worth outsourcing to will just have a one-time or minimal activation/setup fee.

The majority of our customers are only charged a nominal and one-time setup fee of $15. There are rare specialty and highly customized accounts that require a more in-depth setup and are charged accordingly. Only work with a call center that is 100% upfront and honest about what it’ll take to get your account activated into their system.

To prevent being sideswiped by your first answering service bill, be sure to speak with an account specialist to confirm the costs associated with setting up and maintaining your account. Ask for their rate, quote or proposal in writing so you have your commitment in black and white.

Common Hidden Fee: 24/7 Phone Coverage

This section will be short and sweet. Ask the answering service pointblank if they charge additional fees for after-hour, weekend or holiday phone answering services. We here at A Courteous Communications offer free around-the-clock, 24/7 phone answering services in all of our service packages.

Common Hidden Fee: Cancellation Fee

Savvy business owners pay attention to the clauses and provisions that discuss any and all fees associated with canceling a service. So like any other business contract, make sure you review the cancellation policies in detail. You want to work with a call center that give you the freedom to cancel services at any point and doesn’t require long-term or annual commitments.

Our business answering service runs on a month-to-month contract; allowing you to cancel our services at any time for any reason. Read the cancellation fine print before outsourcing your business telephone lines.

Important Questions to Ask

To catch other common hidden fees, be sure to ask the following questions of all business answering services you’re interviewing:

  • Will I be charged for making changes to my account information?
  • Do you charge extra for bilingual or multilingual telephone agents?
  • Is a monthly call log free?
  • What do you consider an outgoing call? What do you consider an incoming call?
  • For timed billing, do you round off to the nearest second or ¼ of a minute?
  • Am I charged more if I request a paper invoice to be mailed to my office?

Final Tips for Hiring the Best Answering Service

We want to leave you with one final tip/food for thought. A lot of business owners get overwhelmed and anxious when viewing their first answering service invoice. Why is that? Well, we find that a lot of the time, entrepreneurs underestimate their true call volumes in hopes of getting a cheaper answering service package.

Remember, you’re going to be charged for each and every call that is handled on your behalf. Lowballing your call volumes will not save you money in the long run; it’ll just surprise you when you’re billed twice the amount you budgeted for. Just be honest from the onset and asked the above listed questions and you’ll be fine.