How Much Does an Answering Service Cost Per Month?
In general, the monthly cost of an answering service falls between $85 – $190, with actual operator minutes used being the determining factor. This guide will help you calculate your potential monthly cost.
In the fast-paced world of business, availability can be as crucial as the quality of the goods or services offered. Missing a call can mean missing a potential client or sale, which is why many businesses turn to answering services as a solution. These services ensure that no call goes unanswered, providing professional assistance to your clients whenever needed. If you’re considering employing an answering service, one of the primary considerations will undoubtedly be the cost. Let’s explore the factors that influence how much an answering service might cost per month.
Understanding Answering Services
Before delving into costs, it’s important to understand what an answering service does. Typically, answering services provide a range of offerings, from basic message-taking to full-scale customer service solutions, including order processing, appointment scheduling, and emergency dispatching. These services can be tailored to the needs of businesses of all sizes, from solo entrepreneurs to large corporations.
Average Cost Per Month
The monthly cost of an answering service can vary widely based on several factors, which include the level of service required, the volume of calls, and any additional features needed. However, to give you a general idea, prices can range from as low as $75 per month for the most basic plans to over $600 per month for comprehensive services.
Answering services often use different pricing models:
- Per-Minute Billing: This is the most common model where you are billed for the actual time the answering service spends handling your calls. Rates can range from $1.39 to $1.55 per minute, depending on the provider and service level.
- Per-Call Billing: While rare, some services charge by the call, which can be advantageous for businesses that receive fewer calls but require more extensive engagement for each call. The services that you offer this program generally charge between $1.50 a call to two dollars a call.
- Monthly Plans: Many providers offer monthly packages that include a bundle of minutes. Once you exceed the allotted time, you’re typically charged an additional per-minute rate. For example, some companies will offer you 50 minutes of operator time for a flat rate of $75, and in the event you exceed the 50 minutes, they will bill you somewhere around $1.40 for each additional overage minute.
- Flat-Rate Billing: A less common model is a flat rate, where you pay a set fee per month, regardless of call volume. This can be beneficial for budgeting but may not be cost-effective for all businesses. As you can imagine, this type of program can be easily abused by a company who is looking for someone to answer 1000 calls a month for a flat rate of around $150. It’s simply not economical, an asset it’s very rare to find companies that offer this program anymore.
Factors That Affect Cost
Here’s what can influence the cost of your answering service each month:
- Call Volume: The number of calls you receive is the most significant factor. The more calls you have, the higher the cost.
- Hours of Operation: If you need 24/7 coverage, including holidays and weekends, the service will be more expensive than standard business hours coverage.
- Services Offered: Basic message-taking is less expensive than services that require specialized training or additional tasks like order taking or appointment setting.
- Customization and Integration: Custom scripts, integration with your business software, or special handling instructions can increase costs.
- Industry-Specific Needs: Certain industries, like medical or legal, may require operators with specialized knowledge or certifications, which can raise the price.
Additional Costs to Consider
When budgeting for an answering service, consider these potential additional costs:
- Set-Up Fees: Some companies charge a one-time fee to set up your service.
- Overage Fees: If you exceed the allotted time in your plan, overage fees apply.
- Holiday Fees: Answering services may charge extra for calls handled during holidays.
- Cancellation Fees: Be aware of any fees associated with ending your service contract early.
Monthly Answering Service Cost by Niche
Different industries have unique demands for answering services, which can reflect in the cost structure of each niche. From medical practices to HVAC companies, the intricacies of the field and the specifics of the service required can significantly influence the monthly cost.
Medical Answering Service Cost Per Month
Medical answering services are specialized to handle sensitive patient information and often require HIPAA-compliant procedures to protect patient privacy. Due to the complexity and legal requirements, medical answering service costs can range between $200 to $1000 or more per month. The variance in cost is dependent on several factors:
- 24/7 Availability: Medical concerns are not limited to business hours, so around-the-clock service will increase the cost.
- Bilingual Services: Offering support in multiple languages can also increase the cost due to the need for specialized staff.
- Appointment Scheduling: Integration with practice management systems for real-time scheduling can add to the cost.
- Emergency Call Routing: Prioritizing and routing emergency calls requires a higher level of training and protocol, thus raising the price.
Attorney Answering Service Cost Per Month
Attorney answering services cater to the legal industry’s need for confidentiality and precise message delivery. These services might range from $150 to over $500 per month. Costs can increase or decrease based on:
- Call Screening: More advanced screening to differentiate between new cases, current clients, or solicitation calls can affect costs.
- Customization: Tailored services that include legal intake, conflict checks, or appointment setting for consultations can elevate the monthly rate.
- Urgent Response Handling: The ability to discern and handle urgent legal matters promptly may also raise the price.
HVAC Answering Service Cost Per Month
For HVAC companies, the answering service needs to be adept at scheduling, dispatching, and handling high call volumes during peak seasons. The cost can vary from $100 to $600 per month. Factors affecting cost include:
- Seasonal Fluctuations: During peak seasons, the call volume can increase dramatically, impacting the cost.
- After-Hours Service: Providing 24/7 emergency repair services will lead to higher costs due to the need for constant availability.
- Technical Knowledge: Operators may need a basic understanding of HVAC terminology to effectively communicate with callers and route them correctly, which can increase costs.
24-Hour Answering Service Cost Per Month
The cost of a 24-hour answering service is contingent upon the industry and the call volume but generally starts at around $200 and can go well beyond $1000 per month. Here’s what influences the cost:
- Continuous Operation: The necessity for operators around the clock is the primary driver of the higher cost.
- Holiday and Weekend Service: Coverage during these times is often at a premium.
- Industry-Specific Training: Operators might require specialized training to handle calls appropriately, depending on the industry.
Factors That Might Decrease or Increase Cost
Regardless of the niche, there are common factors that can lead to an increase or decrease in service costs:
- Efficiency in Call Handling: The quicker an answering service can handle a call without compromising quality, the lower the cost could be.
- Automated Solutions: Employing IVR (Interactive Voice Response) for basic inquiries can reduce live operator time, thus decreasing costs.
- Package Deals: Some answering services offer discounts for long-term contracts or higher-volume packages.
- Overage Rates: Exceeding the planned number of calls or minutes can lead to significant additional charges.
On the other hand, factors like requiring highly specialized industry knowledge, integration with complex business systems, and handling of sensitive information necessitate additional training and security measures, all of which can significantly increase the cost.
An answering service can be a valuable addition to your business, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to connect with a client. The cost of an answering service per month can vary greatly depending on the factors mentioned. It’s crucial to thoroughly assess your business needs, understand the different pricing models, and read the fine print before selecting a service. By doing so, you’ll find an answering service that not only fits your operational needs but also aligns with your financial constraints, ensuring that the investment contributes positively to your bottom line.