How much does an answering service cost is a common question for us.
We know it can be confusing to figure out the cost of a telephone answering service because many providers price their packages differently, and there can be add-ons that you have to look through.
It can also seem difficult to put a price on the benefits of having your business phone lines answered by real people – compared to the alternative of sending a caller to voicemail or having a call ring out.
This is easier than you’d think though.
That’s because customers who don’t think they can rely on you to be available when they need you are less likely to do business with you.
This loss of revenue due to poor service can be significant, as can the reputational damage.
So when thinking about how much an answering service costs, you should frame it as an investment against how much money you could lose because of poor service, or against the cost of hiring a full or part-time receptionist to answer your phones.
Here are the main things to think about when it comes to the costs of investing in a call-answering service:
Average Answering Service Costs
In the UK, call answering service providers tend to charge either a flat rate or a per-call basis.
Prices vary widely, with some providers claiming to provide answering services for around £5.99 per month and others charging upwards of £200.
Obviously, there is a wide gap in the quality of service you can expect to receive at either end of the spectrum.
Even at the lower end of many reputable answering service bundles, £200 may seem like a lot of money for simply answering phone calls. Remember that half of customers will likely become repeat buyers after a good experience.
An answering service helps you achieve this and boost your sales over the long term.
While PAs must meet high standards – they play a hands-on role in dealing with customer enquiries and relaying relevant information to you – for small and large businesses alike, an answering service with quality PAs is still a more cost-effective solution.
At Face For Business, for example, our message-only call answering service starts at £45 and scales up based on the number of messages you expect us to take per month, and also whether you add additional services like adding minutes to your package.
This may seem like a lot when you get closer to a few hundred pounds a month for call answering.
But when you compare it to the cost of hiring a receptionist, it’s clear to see why a call answering service is the better (more cost-effective) option.
Average Receptionist Salaries
The average starting salary for a receptionist in the UK is about £19,000 a year (£23,000 in London).
That’s a monthly salary of £1,583 (£1,916 in London).
Even at the top end of our inclusive minutes package, it would cost nearly double to hire a full-time receptionist (who can only handle one call at a time).
And that’s before you get into the additional costs of an employee like benefits, tax, pensions and holiday pay.
Not to mention the costs of finding, hiring and training your receptionist in the first place.
Plus, if you hire an experienced receptionist, you could be looking closer to £35,000 a year.
Bundles and Additional Features
Telephone answering service providers work hard to entice businesses to choose them and will often offer bundled packages that include features such as:
- Number of answering service talk minutes per month
- No charges for telemarketing or scam calls
- Message dispatching and relaying
Naturally, you’ll benefit most from a package that contains features you’ll use.
More important, however, is the quality and reputation of the answering service.
Premium services with higher standards for their PAs translate to better representation of your company to customers.
Better yet, they’ll appear to callers to be one of your employees with their superior industry knowledge and professionalism.
Understanding the Quality of Service You’ll Receive
Telephone answering service providers can promise the world, and on their websites, they will undoubtedly put their best foot forward.
But can they justify all those power phrases?
Read below some questions that may help you understand the reality of the service you are getting:
- Do they charge for telemarketing or scam calls?
Paying for some low-end answering services can increase your costs and then just pass on the headache.
- What % of calls will they answer in 3 rings or 9 secs?
When you transfer your calls, you need to understand that they are being answered quickly and not just ringing and ringing until someone is free. Many large and seemingly reputable companies miss a high % of calls and don’t have the right resources to answer all the calls.
- Can you judge their quality and listen to the call recordings of the PAs handling the calls for you?
When you outsource, this is particularly important for you and at the end of the day, it’s your business, so instant access to judge the quality is key.
- Having listened to the call, how responsive are they to feedback?
A telephone answering service provider needs to be seen as a partner to your business, so being able to say well done for the good calls or provide development feedback to make things better moving forward is key.
- How well trained are the PAs that will answer your calls, and will they be trained on your business and what you need from the call?
These are the people you trust your business with, so looking out for a good reputation and quality-managed business is key.
- Do they provide good customer testimonials, and do they have customers you can speak with?
Often available online or via Google and Trustpilot reviews sites, why not see what customers think?
- Do they provide a free trial where you can judge the service and ensure the service meets the above questions?
This is the biggest opportunity for you to really see whether a call answering service provider really can deliver for you.
- Do they charge for out-of-hours calls?
Many telephone answering services will try to entice you with talk of offering out-of-hours call handling (even offering 24/7 in some cases).
But when you look closer, they’ll charge extra for dealing with these additional hours.
- How is their pricing calculated?
Many telephone answering services charge for packages made up of inclusive minutes.
But how do they actually charge you?
For example, at Face For Business, we charge for calls handled to the second, so you only pay for the time you’ve paid for.
Not all call-answering service providers can say that.
Instead, some will round up your calls to the nearest minute.
For example, if a call lasts 2 minutes 15 seconds, you’d actually be charged for 3 minutes.
This may not seem a lot in isolation, but it can add up very quickly.
Try our telephone answering free for 7-days
There are numerous benefits to investing in a call answering service, but you don’t have to take our word for it.
Instead, you can experience the benefits yourself with a 7-day free trial of Face For Business’ telephone answering service.
We’ll onboard you and give you access to a private client portal where you can find all your calls and recordings and manage your service.
You’ll get a team of PAs to answer your calls and a lead PA who will work with you to make sure we understand your business, what calls you deal with and how you want calls to be answered.
If you’re not convinced at the end of the 7-days you can simply end the trial and walk away.
So, what do you have to lose?
06th November, 2023
Posted by Face For Business