Answering services use human or automated attendants to answer business calls, take messages, and route callers. Businesses use them to answer calls around the clock or at specific times or days. We evaluated several services and compared them by price, features, and ease of use to determine the top six, including the best overall.
Top 6 Answering Services for 2019
|Answering Service||Best For|
|RingCentral||(Best overall) Businesses that want a full-featured auto attendant but don’t need a live receptionist|
|Ruby Receptionists||Solopreneurs looking for a professional service designed to support mobile phones|
|VoiceNation||Small business owners who want a message-only solution at a low price|
|Map Communications||Small businesses that want custom scripting and expert customer troubleshooting|
|Abby Connect||Businesses that want dedicated receptionists to provide personalized live greetings to callers|
|Davinci||Business owners who want assistance with outbound sales, marketing, or lead generation calls|
How We Evaluated Answering Services
Answering service providers should be available to answer and route calls on nights, weekends, and holidays, when many businesses are closed; as well as offer call overflow to handle high-volume call periods. Some services provide people to answer calls while others have an automated service to greet and route callers. Many companies also offer bilingual receptionists, sales order processing, and local and toll-free phone numbers.
Therefore, we evaluated the top six answering services based on:
- Price: The answering services we evaluated offer tiered pricing plans based on the number of live receptionist minutes or features selected. To evaluate each company fairly, we compared package prices with similar per-minute and feature bundles.
- Available live receptionist service: Some services provide live receptionists to answer phone calls 24/7, year round. Others offer live receptionist service during standard business hours only but may have off-hour availability for an additional charge.
- Auto attendant: Some service providers feature an automated receptionist that greets and routes callers to specific departments or agents.
- Tailored services: Businesses use answering services for different reasons, so customized services like call overflow, custom scripts, and personalized receptionists are helpful for designing the answering service experience you want customers to have.
- Ease of use: These types of virtual answering services shouldn’t be complicated to set up and use. Accounts with the companies we evaluated can be set up easily online or in a single phone call and managed via a browser or mobile app.
- Customer support: Answering services should offer easily accessible online documentation and customer support. The companies we reviewed offer a combination of phone, email and chat support, and online knowledge bases for customer reference.
Based on our research, we recommend RingCentral as the best overall answering for small businesses that want a full-featured auto attendant but don’t need a live receptionist to answer calls. Here are how the six services we evaluated stack up when compared against each other for price, client services, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) features, and customer support.
Best Overall Answering Service for Small Businesses: RingCentral
RingCentral is a VoIP phone system with an automated virtual receptionist that greets and routes calls to agents, departments, mobile, or landline phones, with plans from $29.99 per user, per month. We believe RingCentral is best for businesses that want a VoIP phone system with an auto attendant but don’t need a live receptionist.
RingCentral’s prices for up to 10 users range from $29.99 to $39.99 per month. Unlimited user plans range from $34.99 to $59.99 per month. RingCentral’s lower-level tiers cost less than its competitors in the industry average.
RingCentral’s Tiered Features
|Unlimited Phone Calls|
|Visual Voicemail and Voicemail-to-Email|
|Multilevel Auto Attendant|
|Automatic Call Recording|
RingCentral’s first tier auto-receptionist package includes unlimited phone calls, 100 toll-free minutes, and visual voicemail. The call routing system welcomes callers with a custom company greeting and routes them to the right destination whether a caller gives an employee name or department extension.
This tier doesn’t have a large bucket of toll-free minutes or the multilevel auto attendant features found in the higher level packages. Starting at $29.99 per month, the Essentials tier is cheaper than VoiceNation, Ruby, Map Communications, Abby Connect, or Davinci. This tier is right for small teams and businesses with heavy local calling needs.
The Standard tier adds 1,000 toll-free minutes and multilevel auto attendant to the features found in the Essentials package. Multilevel auto attendant adds additional features to the auto receptionist like call routing capability for multiple locations and usability on external phone numbers.
The Standard package doesn’t offer as many toll-free minutes as the higher-level packages, nor does it come with the automatic call recording found in the Premium and Ultimate packages. Although not the cheapest RingCentral tier at $34.99, it’s still less expensive than VoiceNation, Ruby, Map Communications, Abby Connect, or Davinci. This plan is best for small businesses with more than 10 employees that want a virtual auto attendant.
RingCentral’s Premium tier adds 2,500 toll-free calling minutes, automatic call recording, and voicemail transcription-to-text to its feature list. VoiceNation also offers this feature, but the service isn’t as fully featured as RingCentral. These tools are advantageous for businesses that like to keep digital records of calls for quality assurance, training, and compliance purposes.
The $44.99 Premium package still falls short in toll-free minutes for companies that rely heavily on an 800 number to make a sale. This tier is on par with Map Communications and Voice Nation’s Message Only tier; and less expensive than VoiceNation, Ruby, Abby Connect, or Davinci. The Premium level is a good choice for medium to large companies that serve a primarily local area.
What RingCentral Is Missing
RingCentral doesn’t provide live receptionists to answer phone calls. Customers do have the option to create a professionally recorded greeting, but there is no way to have calls answered by a human on the first ring. Business owners who want that option are better off with providers like Ruby, VoiceNation, or Davinci.
What Users Think About RingCentral
Our readers are generally positive about RingCentral, with an average rating of four out of five stars. They say the service offers a wide range of helpful features that are useful for businesses of any size. However, some readers note the customer service team can be slow to respond. For more user reviews, visit the RingCentral user review page.
Where to Find RingCentral
Businesses that want a VoIP phone system and built-in full-featured auto attendant, but don’t need a live receptionist should give RingCentral a try. The company offers a free trial of its product and 30-day, money-back guarantee when you purchase an account. Check out RingCentral’s website for details.
Best Answering Service for Solo Entrepreneurs: Ruby Receptionists
Ruby Receptionists combines a local business phone number with a live receptionist answering service to answer phones, greet callers, take messages, and route calls. With plans from $299 per month, Ruby is right for solopreneurs or business owners who want a virtual business phone number that comes with a professional answering service for their cellphone or landline.
Ruby Receptionist offers two service plans for small businesses. Ruby Impress is $299 for 10 users, 100 receptionist minutes, 10 voicemail boxes. Ruby Engage is $599 for 20 users, 200 receptionist minutes, and 20 voicemail boxes.
Ruby virtual answering service features include call routing by type of call, appointment scheduling, call routing, and a toll-free phone number. Similar to Map, Davinci, Abby Connect, Ruby’s calls answered by a live receptionist. However, unlike some competitors, the company’s service plans come with a free local phone number.
Ruby offers customized FAQs and intake forms. Ruby also features a choice of seven custom hold music options along with the ability to upload your own music for an additional fee. VoiceNation features hold music as well, but customers have expressed complaints about its quality.
Live Receptionist Service
Ruby’s calls are answered by a live receptionist from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Ruby Impress plan features 100 receptionist minutes for $299 per month, and the Engage plan includes 200 minutes for $599 per month. Ruby also offers bilingual receptionists to take calls and messages in Spanish. Davinci features this option as well. However, it isn’t available with all plans.
Unlike Map and VoiceNation, Ruby doesn’t feature call overflow. Customers must update their availability manually in the mobile app or on the website, or by emailing or calling Ruby’s customer service department. This may be a significant drawback for business owners who want their calls automatically redirected when they don’t answer a call.
Ruby doesn’t offer a message-only package, nor does RingCentral, Abby Connect, Map Communications, or Davinci. Businesses that want a virtual answering service with a low-cost message-only plan should check out VoiceNation.
What Ruby Is Missing
Ruby Receptionists is missing voicemail transcription and the ability to text from your business number although, according to the company’s website, both features are coming soon. Voicemail transcription offered by services like RingCentral is handy for checking messages when calling in by phone isn’t an option, and business texting is great for personalized customer engagement.
What Users Think About Ruby Receptionists
Our readers have overall positive things to say about Ruby, giving it a five out of five stars. They say the service receptionists are warm, courteous, and professional. However, some customers report they can sometimes be too chatty, leading to an overall billing increase. You can read more on our Ruby user review page.
Where to Find Ruby Receptionists
Solopreneurs who want a business number on their personal cellphone should check out Ruby Receptionists. To hear how a live receptionist would answer your business call, it also offers an interactive online module as well as a 21-day, money-back guarantee with no long-term contracts to sign. Visit Ruby Receptionists’ website for details.
Best Answering Service for Basic Message Forwarding: VoiceNation
VoiceNation is a 24/7 answering service with pay-as-you-go messaging options starting at $79, and a low-cost message-forwarding only plan not offered by other services. This plan includes live receptionists who take phone messages and deliver them by email, voicemail, or short message service (SMS). VoiceNation is best for budget-conscious businesses that want a message-only answering service.
VoiceNation’s service plans include: a $79 pay-as-you-go plan for $1.50 per minute, 95 minutes for $129, 150 minutes for $199, 275 minutes for $329, 500 minutes for $549, and 1,000 minutes for $949, and a message-only plan with 40 minutes $49. The pay-as-you-go plans are a bit higher than the industry standard.
VoiceNation answering service features include 24/7/365 live simple order processing, call patching, local or toll-free number, schedule management, reporting, message delivery by email, voicemail, and SMS. Map, Davinci, Abby Connect, and Ruby Receptionist also offer live receptionists, but VoiceNation stands out for its message-only package. VoiceNation offers customer support via an online ticketing system, phone, and chat, similar to RingCentral.
Custom scripting allows businesses to gather precise information from each caller. It can cover basic data or drill down into content companies can use for lead generation and follow-up calls. VoiceNation offers custom scripting, but additional fees apply. Map Communications offers this feature at no additional cost.
Live Receptionist Service
All calls can be answered by a VoiceNation live receptionist 24/7/365, including major holidays except on the message only plan. This feature is also available with Davinci and Map Connection’s plans, but at a higher cost. Ruby Receptionist and Abby Connect’s live receptionist hours are limited, and RingCentral doesn’t offer the feature at all.
Call overflow can accommodate a variety of business needs. Live receptionists can take over answering calls when office lines are forwarded during the lunch hour when phones go unanswered for a certain number of rings, when a phone line is already in use, or a number of other scenarios. VoiceNation offers call overflow as part of its tailored solutions. However, the feature is included in all Map Communications price plans.
VoiceNation customers can choose the message-only package, which comes with 40 minutes and an overage cost of $1.49 per minute. The package includes a local or toll-free number, schedule management, reporting, message delivery by email, voicemail, and SMS. This is an affordable and professional way to let customers leave messages for businesses and business owners.
What VoiceNation Is Missing
VoiceNation is missing auto attendant features that allow customers to pre-record messages or automatically route calls to specific agents or departments. VoiceNation is also missing a fully featured business phone system. RingCentral is a better fit for businesses that require those tools.
What Users Think About VoiceNation
VoiceNation clients a mixture of both positive and negative reviews online. They report that the service is a good value for the money and right for small businesses. However, some VoiceNation clients say they have received complaints from customers that receptionists have been rude during calls.
Where to Find VoiceNation
VoiceNation is a great choice for small business owners who want a message-only answering service at a low price. The company offers a free seven-day trial, and accounts can usually be set up within one business day or less. Visit VoiceNation’s website for details.
Best for Custom Scripting and Expert Customer Troubleshooting: Map Communications
Map Communications answering service provides 24/7/365 live receptionists to answer phone calls, route calls, take messages, and troubleshoot issues using custom scripts, with plans from $39 per month. Map Communications is right for companies that want custom scripting and 24/7 live receptionist service, including holidays and weekends to assist callers with troubleshooting.
Map Communications Pricing
Map Communication’s Standard plan is $39 per month with no minutes; each minute is $1.15. The Business plan is $149 per month, includes 125 minutes, and additional minutes are $1.09. The Executive plan is $249 per month, includes 225 minutes, and additional minutes are $1.07. Map Communication’s pricing is competitive with similar solutions on the market.
Map Communications Features
Map Communications virtual answering service plans include live 24/7 receptionist service, text and email message delivery, nationwide 800 number or local number, and custom scripts. Ruby, Abby Connect, and Davinci also offer the same features. However, Map stands out for its call overflow service and custom scripting. Map’s customer support team is available by phone via an online contact form.
Map Communications specializes in highly customized scripts that allow businesses to manage anything from basic order processing to complex technical troubleshooting. Scripts can also include making and canceling appointments, processing payments, and screening callers for solo business owners like salons and Real Estate Agents. VoiceNation also offers custom scripting, but additional fees apply.
Live Receptionist Service
All calls are answered by a live receptionist 24/7/365, including major holidays. This feature is included with all pricing plans at no charge. This feature is also available with Davinci and VoiceNation’s plans, but at a higher cost. Ruby Receptionist and Abby’s live receptionist hours are limited, and RingCentral doesn’t offer the feature at all.
Map Communications includes call overflow in all its pricing plans. It can pick up calls after a certain number of rings, calls that come in while your office lines are busy, when office lines are forward, or according to a customized plan. VoiceNation also offers the feature as part of its tailored solutions, and Abby Connect offers call overflow, but its plan costs are higher.
Map Communication doesn’t offer a message-only package, nor does RingCentral, Ruby Receptionist, Abby Connect, or Davinci. Businesses that want an answering service with a message only plan should check out VoiceNation.
What Map Communications Is Missing
Map Communications doesn’t dedicate teams of receptionists to accounts and personalized service to callers. For businesses that need that type of specialized service, Abby Connect is a better choice. Map Communications is also missing a full-featured phone service, like RingCentral.
What Users Think About Map Communications
Based on online reviews, Map Communications receives generally positive feedback. Customers who recommend the company say the service is reliable and find the agents friendly. Clients with negative feedback report Map Communications hold music could be improved.
Where to Find Map Communications
Businesses that want a live receptionist answering service capable of troubleshooting customer issues and available 24/7, including holidays and weekends, should give Map Communications a try. The company offers a seven-day free trial with no contract or deposit required. Visit Map Communications’ website for details.
Best Answering Service for Personalized Live Customer Greetings: Abby Connect
Abby Connect is an answering service that uses dedicated teams of live receptionists to provide personalized live greetings that include your company name. Receptionists are available full-time, part-time, or for overflow calls, with plans from $279 per month. Abby Connect best for businesses that want to offer inbound callers personalized customer service.
Abby Connect Pricing
Abby Connect’s basic plan is $279 per month and includes 100 minutes. The mid-range plan is $499 per month and includes 200 minutes. The top-level plan is $1,089 per month and includes 500 minutes. Abby’s plans cost less than other services in the space and include more features.
Abby Connect Features
Abby Connect offers guaranteed live call answering, a dedicated account manager and receptionist team, bilingual receptionists, voicemail to email, unlimited voicemail boxes and minutes, unlimited users, custom transfer music, and extended call answering upon request. Other services offer many of these same features, but Abby Connect stands out for its personalized inbound call service.
Live Receptionist Service
Abby Connect assigns a team of five receptionists to each account, to answer calls live Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your local United States time zone. Answering hours can be extended for free from 9 p.m. Pacific time on weekdays, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time on weekends. 24-hour service costs extra. Davinci, VoiceNation, Ruby Receptionists, and Abby Connect also offer live call answering but do not assign personal receptionists to accounts.
Abby Connect offers call overflow to customers at all price levels, as does Map Communication. VoiceNation offers the feature as part of its tailored solutions while Davinci doesn’t advertise call overflow on either of its tier levels.
Abby Connect doesn’t offer a message-only package, nor does RingCentral, Ruby Receptionist, Map Communications, or Davinci. Businesses that want an answering service with a low-cost message-only plan should check out VoiceNation.
What Abby Connect Is Missing
Abby Connect answering service doesn’t offer appointment scheduling, basic forms, FAQs, or custom forms also aren’t available. Businesses that need these features would be better served by other answer services like VoiceNation or Ruby Receptionist.
What Users Think About Abby Connect
Abby Connect customer reviews online have generally positive things to say about the company. They report that the service has very friendly call operators and great customer service. However, some Abby Connect customers report their calls don’t get answered or that there is a lot of background noise during some calls.
Where to Find Abby Connect
Businesses that want dedicated receptionists for personalized inbound customer service and support should give Abby Connect a try. The company offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required. Visit Abby Connect’s website for details.
Best Answering Service for Outbound Call Assistance: Davinci
Davinci is an answering service with live call answering and routing. It also features outbound calling by Davinci employees for help with things like sales and lead generation. With plans from $99 per month, Davinci is good for businesses that want assistance with outbound sales and marketing calls as well as help answering incoming calls.
Davinci’s Business Plan is $99 per month for 50 live answering minutes or $239 for 100 minutes. The Premium Plan is $249 per month for 50 minutes or $319 for 100 minutes. All four price points are higher than Davinci’s competitors but offer more features for the money, like unlimited long distance and outbound calling.
Davinci’s Tiered Features
$239/month for 100 minutes
$319/month for 100 minutes
|Free Local or Toll-free Number|
|Live Call Answering|
|Call Forwarding & Screening|
|Advanced Call Routing|
|Unlimited Long-distance Calling|
|Special FAQs & Complex Call Flows|
This tier includes a free local or toll-free number, live call answering, call forwarding, call screening, voicemail, call routing, unlimited long distance calling, an auto-receptionist, and online faxing. This tier doesn’t offer appointment scheduling outbound calling, order processing, bilingual receptionists, administrative tasks, special FAQs or complex call flows found in the Premium plan.
At $99 per month and up, the price points of this tier are a bit higher than other solutions but provide more features for the money, like advanced call routing, auto-receptionist, and unlimited long distance calling. This tier is a good choice for businesses with customers across the U.S. and Canada. Davinci offers customer support across both tiers by phone, live chat, and email. Unlike RingCentral, it does not offer an online knowledge base or ticketing system.
This tier adds appointment scheduling, outbound calling, order processing, bilingual receptionists, administrative tasks, special FAQs, and complex call flows to everything the business plan has to offer. The extra features turn this tier into a virtual administrative assistant for small businesses.
At $249 per month and up, the price points of this tier are also higher than other answering service products in this space, but complex call flows, appointment scheduling, order processing, and outbound calling add value to the larger price tag. This tier is a great choice for companies that want help with outbound sales, marketing, or lead generation calls.
What Davinci Is Missing
Davinci doesn’t offer call overflow to pick up calls when office lines are busy or when workers are away from their desks. For companies that want to make sure their phone lines are never left unattended, Map Communications or Abby are a better fit.
What Users Think About Davinci
Online reviews of Davinci are generally favorable. Customers say the company is efficient, responsive, and that customer service is excellent. However, some customers report delays in setting up a phone system due to complex compliance requirements.
Where to Find Davinci
Business owners who want assistance with outbound sales, marketing, or lead generation calls should take a look at Davinci. Look for a link at the bottom of the company’s home page to learn about current specials and offers. Visit Davinci’s website for details.
Virtual answering service providers answer and route phone calls, take messages from callers, answer questions about your company, and schedule appointments. These services help businesses make sure a customer call never goes unanswered, including days, nights, weekends, and holidays.
Businesses that want a VoIP phone system with full-featured auto attendant built in and don’t need a live receptionist should take a look at RingCentral. In addition to a reliable phone service, RingCentral’s service greets and routes calls to agents, departments, voicemail inboxes, or any mobile or landline phone. Take advantage of its free trial and 30-day, money-back guarantee by signing up today.