Business answering services leverage either human or automated attendants to answer incoming calls, receive messages, and route callers to extensions. Organizations can use them to take calls at all hours or at specific times. We looked at the best answering services on the market and evaluated them based on price, usability, and feature set.
Top 6 Answering Services for 2020
(Best Overall) Businesses that want a full-featured auto-attendant instead of a live receptionist
Solopreneurs looking for a tailor-made mobile answering service
Teams looking for an affordable, no-frills answering service
Organizations looking for custom scripting and customer troubleshooting functionality
Businesses that need dedicated human receptionists to provide a live experience to callers
Managers who want features to help with outbound sales, marketing, or lead generation calls
last updated on 04/8/20
How We Evaluated Answering Services
Business answering services should be able to take incoming call traffic and greet your customers either with a live human receptionist or automated attendant. However, the best systems should also be intuitive and affordable enough for small business use or include advanced features like sales tools and receptionist scheduling.
We evaluated answering services based on the following:
- Available live receptionist service or auto-attendant
- Custom scripting and tailored services like call overflow
- Ease of use
- Customer support
Based on these criteria, we recommend RingCentral for most companies looking for a new answering service. The service is easy to use, affordable, and provides a robust automated attendant. The fact that it also comes with a complete business phone system makes it ideal for most small business teams.
RingCentral: Best Overall Answering Service for Small Businesses
RingCentral, a business voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system with an automated virtual receptionist that greets and routes calls to their desired extension, has plans from $24.99 per user, per month on an annual basis. It also comes with video conferences for up to 200 people per meeting as well as a wide range of business phone features. RingCentral is best for businesses that want a VoIP phone system with an auto attendant but don’t need a live receptionist to answer calls. As an effort to assist during the difficult COVID-19 times, RingCentral is now free for K-12 educators, health care providers, and nonprofits.
Includes a robust, multilevel auto attendant
Does not employ a live receptionist
Smooth, modern user interface
Lacks unlimited international calling
Video chat, file sharing, and other advanced features
Settings can be overwhelming at first
- RingCentral’s small business pricing for two to 19 users ranges from $19.99 to $44.99 per user, per month on an annual basis
- Volume discounts are available as you add more users
In an attempt to ease some of the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, RingCentral has temporarily made their Office Premium tier free for K-12 educators, healthcare providers, and nonprofit organizations. This provides, among other things, a free automated attendant and video conferencing for up to 100 people. You can read their COVID-19 offer page for more details.
- Custom scripting: RingCentral allows you to fully customize what the auto-attendant says to customers when they call your organization. You can also upload an MP3 file into the system to serve as your hold music.
- Call overflow: If all of your lines are tied up and there is no one to answer the call, RingCentral can be configured to automatically put callers on hold or send them directly to a preconfigured voicemail inbox.
- Call screening: While RingCentral may not have a live attendant to screen calls, it does come with screening tools like caller ID and call blocking.
- Call whisper: In addition to call screening, RingCentral can act as a virtual gatekeeper by allowing you to set your phone system to announce a call so that you can decide whether to accept it or send it to voicemail while the person on the other side continues to hear ringing.
- Conference calling and mobile access: RingCentral is a full-featured business phone system, which means in addition to a virtual receptionist, you are also gaining access to audio and video conference calling as well as a mobile app to help you with your business calling needs.
For more information about RingCentral’s service plans, capabilities, or user reviews, visit the RingCentral user reviews page.
Ruby: Best Answering Service for Solo Entrepreneurs
Ruby combines a live answering service with a phone system that can take calls, greet callers, take messages, and route calls. With plans from $309 per month, Ruby Receptionists is right for solopreneurs or business owners who want a virtual business phone number that comes with a professional answering service for their cell phone or landline.
Offers customized FAQs
Custom hold music costs extra
Gives you a choice of hold music
Does not support call overflow
Provides bilingual assistance in all plans
No guaranteed service
- Ruby 100: 100 monthly receptionist minutes for $309 per month
- Ruby 200: 200 monthly receptionist minutes for $589 per month
- Ruby 500: 500 monthly receptionist minutes for $1369 per month
- Custom scripting: Ruby offers customized frequently asked questions (FAQs) capabilities along with an intake form module.
- Hold music: You can choose between seven different 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 Receptionists’ calls are answered by a live receptionist from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time on weekends.
- Bilingual answering: Ruby also offers bilingual receptionists to take calls and messages in Spanish.
VoiceNation: Best Low-cost Live Service That Includes Answering Minutes
VoiceNation is a 24/7 answering service with service plans starting at $30 per month. Each VoiceNation service plan includes a bucket of minutes that cover the time that a live receptionist spends taking phone messages and delivering them by email or short message service (SMS). VoiceNation is ideal for budget-conscious businesses that want a low-cost answering service that doesn’t charge a fee every time a call is answered by a live receptionist.
24/7/365 live answering service
Limited configurations for custom scripting
Email and text message delivery
Unintuitive user interface
Affordable per minute pricing plans
Lacks automated attendant
- 30 for 30: $30 per month for 30 monthly minutes, no custom scripting
- Business: $75 per month for 50 monthly minutes
- Professional: $225 per month for 150 monthly minutes
- Executive: $525 per month for 350 monthly minutes
- Live receptionist service: VoiceNation offers 24/7/365 answering service by live receptionists at no extra cost.
- Call overflow: Receptionists can take over answering calls when office lines are forwarded during the lunch hour, when a phone line is already in use, or other scenarios.
- Call patching: You can configure the system to forward all of your calls all of time, or just some calls, or no calls based on what is best for your schedule.
- Schedule management: VoiceNation allows you to schedule receptionist times in advance so that the service is there exactly when you need it.
Read our VoiceNation user reviews page for more insight into the service’s plans and added benefits.
Map Communications: Best for Custom Scripting & Expert Troubleshooting
Map Communications, which offers plans starting at $39 per month, is an answering service with 24/7/365 availability, call routing, and more. It also offers some of the most robust custom scripting features of all of the solutions we examined. It is a great option for those who want to gather powerful insights from their call answering system.
Map Communications Strengths
Map Communications Weaknesses
Best in class call overflow service
Expensive per-minute fee if you go over monthly allotment
Powerful custom scripting
Receptionists are not dedicated to your account
24/7 live answering
Does not support custom hold music
Map Communications Pricing
- Standard: $39 per month, no monthly minutes, $1.15 per minute
- Business: $149 for 125 monthly minutes, $1.09 per extra minute
- Executive: $225 for 225 monthly minutes, $1.07 per extra minute
Map Communications Features
- Custom scripting: Map Communications offers customized scripts that allow businesses to manage anything from basic order processing to complex technical troubleshooting. The scripting module can also include scheduling appointments, call screening, and payment processing for solo business owners like salons and real estate agents.
- Live receptionist service: All calls are answered by a live receptionist on a 24/7/365 basis, even on major holidays, and is a feature is included with all plans.
- Call overflow: Map Communications picks up calls after a preconfigured number of rings, when your lines are busy, or according to a customized plan.
- Message delivery: Messages can be delivered by either text or email.
- Phone numbers: Map Communications can be used with either toll-free or local numbers.
Abby Connect: Best Answering Service for Personalized Live Customer Greetings
Abby Connect is a live receptionist answering service that uses dedicated teams of employees that are available on either a full-time or part-time basis. Plans start from $279 per month and go all the way up to $1,089 per month. It is ideal for teams that want a team of receptionists that are assigned to their specific organization.
Abby Connect Strengths
Abby Connect Weaknesses
Guaranteed & dedicated live answering service
Expensive per-minute answering plans
Custom transfer music
Cannot be utilized as supplemental outbound sales service
Highly rated receptionist quality
Lacks appointment scheduling
Abby Connect Pricing
- Abby 100: $279 per month for 100 monthly minutes
- Abby 200: $499 per month for 200 monthly minutes
- Abby 500: $1,089 per month for 500 minutes
Abby Connect Features
- Dedicated staff: Abby Connect provides customers with a dedicated account manager that is there to help small businesses get the most out of the system.
- Call overflow: If you have a high incoming call volume, Abby Connect offers call overflow functionality to make sure that all of your customers are eventually connected with a human staff member.
Davinci: Best Answering Service for Outbound Call Assistance
Davinci is an answering service that comes standard with live call answering and routing functionality. Other features include outbound calling by Davinci employees that can provide assistance to your team via sales and lead generation calls. The service, which starts at $99 per month, is good for companies that need help with their telephony operations and want to effectively outsource their sales work.
Features outbound call support
Does not support call overflow
Easy to use
Complex compliance requirements
Online fax capabilities
Can get expensive
- Business Plan: $99 per month for 50 monthly receptionist minutes, or $239 for 100 minutes per month
- Premium Plan: $249 per month for 50 minutes or $319 for 100 minutes (and adds outbound calling and appointment scheduling)
- Outbound calling: In addition to answering your calls, the service can also make outbound sales calls for you.
- Custom scripting: Davinci allows you to deploy FAQs and configure your own call flows for your phone system. It also offers call scheduling functionality.
- Auto-attendant: Davinci offers an automated attendant in case no human staff are available to answer a call.
- Live receptionist service: The service offers the use of their receptionist staff to take calls on behalf of your organization.
- Bilingual answering: Those who upgrade to the Premium Plan get access to a bilingual receptionist who can also speak Spanish.
Virtual answering systems are helpful to small businesses because they effectively handle all incoming call traffic. These products help organizations ensure that a customer call never goes unanswered. This can take the form of either a live service or an automated attendant.
Companies looking for a complete VoIP system with an answering service should consider RingCentral. Its automated attendant is powerful and can help route all of your incoming calls. Click here to try a 15-day free trial of RingCentral today.