When working outside of normal business hours, your office may receive a large volume of phone calls from clients and potential clients. Even if you have a receptionist on duty, it may be inadequate if the volume of calls exceeds a certain limit. However, not every business requires a receptionist. An automated answering service can effectively route calls to the appropriate operator and can be customized to suit the specific needs and requirements of your business.
In the business world, second chances are rare. Missing a call can cost you a potential lead, client, or significant business opportunity. But with automated answering services at your disposal, you can ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities.
All answering service portals are user-friendly, so you don’t need a technical expert to set them up. To choose the best-answering service for your business, consider your current business needs and align them with your vision. This will help you make the right and most effective decision.
What Is an Automated Answering Service?
Some companies use live operators to handle phone calls and take customer messages, but they also use automated answering services to take care of calls when the operators are busy with other tasks. Automated answering services are also useful for individuals who receive important calls but can’t answer every call themselves.
In simple terms, an automated answering service is a type of virtual receptionist that handles customer requests and inquiries without making them wait on hold. It’s important to note that an automated answering service is different from an automated calling service, as it primarily manages incoming calls rather than outgoing calls. Additionally, an automated answering service typically includes a self-service option that uses advanced AI technology to answer customer questions.
An automated answering service generally works in three different ways
- Answer the calls on your behalf using your existing phone number
- Play a pre-recorded greeting message that is tailored to your business requirements
- Guide customers through a series of menus and ask them for their intent and gather all relevant information
An automated answering service collects information from the caller and routes them to the appropriate department. It can also use call deflection to handle the high call volume.
Factors to Consider While Choosing an Automated Answering System
With the information provided about the top 10 automated answering systems for 2023, there are also other considerations to keep in mind when choosing an automated answering system. By taking these factors into account, you can make a more informed and efficient decision.
Multi-Level Call Attending
Automated answering systems route your client’s call directly to the specified operators by guiding the client through a simple menu. However, in case of multi-level call attending, this service goes up a notch by creating custom paths that allow for multiple callers.
For example, one path might be reserved solely for accounting whereas another might go for technical support.
Account and Call Monitoring
When choosing an automated answering service, it is important to consider the call analytics feature. Many businesses use a dashboard to track customer interactions and this feature is activated every time a customer calls. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the dashboard is user-friendly, and up-to-date, and allows for easy management of users, permissions and various aspects of phone calls.
Live Call Answering Feature
While automated answering services can be helpful, having a live person available to answer calls can also be beneficial. Some clients prefer talking to an actual person rather than having a machine answer their query. Having a live person on the line can provide customers with better satisfaction as they have direct access to someone who can assist them with their inquiries or concern.
A live call answering feature is a valuable addition to a phone plan. Therefore, it’s important to check if the automated answering service you are considering has this option available.
Many businesses operate 24/7 and require answering services that can work continuously. On the other hand, some businesses only require automated answering services during regular working hours. Therefore, it’s important to select a company that offers flexible operating patterns that align with your business hours and requirements.
In addition to the factors mentioned previously, here are some additional features to consider when choosing an automated answering service:
- Web/Mobile Chat
- Post-Call Surveys
- Conference Calling
- Voicemail Transcription
- Call Recording
- CRM Integration
Top 10 Best Automated Answering Systems
Selecting an automated answering system is a significant change for businesses of all sizes. When making this decision, it’s important to consider how the system will improve and streamline operations for your business.
In order to make the best choice, you need to have the most suitable automated answering system. With many options available, it can be challenging to make a decision. That’s why we have compiled a list of the top 10 best automated answering systems for the year.
|Best For||Small Businesses|
Nextiva is a full-service VOIP phone system designed for businesses, but it can also function effectively as an automated answering service. It comes with several features that enable you to create a personalized greeting and set answering rules based on your business hours.
With these features, you can route calls based on factors such as area code, time zone, and other factors that dictate your call-handling process. Nextiva acts as a virtual receptionist, eliminating the need for a physical receptionist to answer calls before, during or after business hours.
Nextiva’s user-friendly administrative portal makes it ideal for small businesses and can be accessed from a computer or the company’s mobile app, allowing you to manage the entire admin portal. Additionally, Nextiva offers scalable features as your business grows, including advanced customer contact features, VoIP, video chat services, virtual voicemail, and more. It also has plans available that include a multi-level auto-attendant for more complex call routing.
|Best For||24/7 Customer Handling|
Answer First provides businesses with a professional digital presence 24/7 by giving access to features such as message taking and response, appointment scheduling, and assistance with purchasing and ordering. The company has a certified and dedicated customer service team, made up of professionals who have been connecting people with answers since 1998.
Here are some of the services that are available to you when you sign up with Answer First: 24/7 Dispatching, Systems and Security Management, Live Transfer, Message Taking, Scheduling and Reservations, Virtual Receptionist, and Voice Mail Services.
Answer First is an advanced automated answering service that offers exceptional customer service to all clients. It offers a wide range of third-party integrations and customizable pricing plans tailored to your specific needs and requirements. With Answer First, you can ensure that you never miss a potential lead, client, or business opportunity, and can always make a positive impression on your customers. The service’s 24/7 availability, live transfer, and message taking feature, scheduling and reservations, virtual receptionist, and voicemail service ensure that you are always reachable and able to provide professional and efficient customer service.
|Best For||All types of businesses and Customer Experience Management|
As a business owner, you are constantly seeking out solutions that can meet all of your business needs, including 24/7 coverage. PATlive’s digital receptionists provide professional customer service around the clock, which can significantly improve your customer relations and strengthen your relationships with current clients. With their help, you can make sure that your customers have a positive experience with your company at all times, even when you are unavailable.
Additionally, the digital receptionist service guarantees that you never miss a potential lead or business opportunity, which can help you grow your business. PATlive offers a 14-day free trial feature that allows you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the product before making a decision. Additionally, the bilingual service feature enables you to communicate effectively with people speaking a language different from yours.
With PATlive’s digital agents, you can easily book, manage, and keep track of your appointments using the software’s web-based calendaring service. This feature allows you to schedule, reschedule, and cancel appointments, as well as view upcoming appointments in a calendar format. This functionality can help you to manage your time more efficiently and productively.
|Best For||Live Call and Chat Answering|
Voice Nation offers top-quality automated answering services that are available 24/7 for your convenience. By signing up with Voice Nation, you gain access to a bilingual virtual receptionist that will answer your calls and respond to texts on your behalf. This feature ensures that you never miss an important call or message and can provide professional and efficient customer service to your clients.
Additionally, when you sign up with Voice Nation, you also gain access to additional services such as order processing, message delivery, detailed reports, and a dedicated account manager that is included in each plan. With this automated answering service, you never have to send your customers to voicemail again, as you can personally attend to each customer at any time of the day. This can help you improve customer service and strengthen your relationships with your clients.
With Voice Nation, you can customize your call script to match the type of business and clients you have. The service also offers a mobile application that is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, providing you with flexibility and convenience.
|Best For||Solo Enterpreneurs|
Every business has a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets it apart from the competition, and it’s important to effectively communicate that USP to customers. Grasshopper’s software includes an auto-attendant feature that allows you to use pre-recorded scripts from the software’s database.
You can assign different scripts for different client paths to help answer your incoming calls more professionally. For an additional fee, the software also offers a professional voice studio. Grasshopper’s software allows you to switch between live operators and digital receptionists depending on your preference, giving you the flexibility to choose who handles your calls. Grasshopper offers an easy 4-step process to add a business number and integrate your smartphone with a virtual phone system, allowing you to never miss a call and present a professional image to your customers.
|Best For||Small Businesses without IT Departments|
Ooma is specifically designed for small businesses and includes an auto-attendant feature when setting up an account. It has a text-to-speech enabled feature and callers are greeted by a virtual assistant every time they call. You can select and assign a customized greeting which will be read out by a computer-generated voice to the caller. Additionally, the software’s dashboard includes a control panel that enables you to record audio files, which is a useful option if you are considering a virtual receptionist.
Ooma is loaded with numerous features such as HD Audio, low international calling rates, a virtual fax system, mobile app integration, a complimentary toll-free number and free local phone numbers. These features are intended to enhance customer service, boost productivity, and improve overall business communication.
This automated answering service also offers a mobile application compatible with both Android and iOS, allowing you to check voicemails on your phone anytime and anywhere. As a small business owner, cost-effectiveness is a priority, and Ooma offers smart plans for every user. As your business grows, Ooma will ensure that your phone bill remains low. Therefore, not only does your business advance, but you also have the opportunity to make significant savings on your phone bill.
|Best For||Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs|
If you are looking for a solution to manage your metered subscriptions, phone.com is an automated answering service specifically designed for businesses with lower or fluctuating call volume. The software offers both metered and non-metered subscription plans. This allows you to customize and integrate your plans based on your specific needs and requirements. Additionally, phone.com provides access to various additional features such as live receptionist, international numbering and dialling.
The global numbers and international calling feature will be particularly beneficial for businesses with multiple marketing campaigns. Additionally, phone.com offers a wide range of features such as voice, video, text, call management, and other collaboration features commonly found in enterprise phone systems.
Furthermore, this answering service is highly versatile and can seamlessly switch between computer and phone. It offers a variety of options such as local, toll-free, and vanity numbers.
|Best For||All Businesses including Micro Businesses|
Irrespective of the type and size of your business, it is important to have a flexible and cost-effective business plan that can help your business to grow without incurring high phone bills. An ideal plan would provide you with the necessary communication tools while keeping costs low.
This can include features such as virtual phone numbers, call forwarding, voicemail, and auto-attendant, all of which can help to improve your customer service and increase your productivity. Additionally, many business communication solutions offer affordable pricing plans with different features, so you can choose the one that best fits your business needs and budget.
Vonage offers a variety of flexible options, including over 50 phone features with the ability to add advanced features at an additional cost. The basic plan includes 18 standard features such as call recording, internet fax, conference bridge, virtual numbers and more.
Additionally, a self-service mobile application that is compatible with both Android and iOS is available, enabling you to deploy third-party apps without needing professional services. Vonage offers a wide range of services such as contact centres, customer engagement, mobility, remote work, and more.
|Best For||Unified Business Communication|
8×8 is an automated phone attendant service that operates in over 48 countries and is ideal for companies with a large number of international clients. Additionally, the software has an economical subscription plan that allows you to save money on international calls.
The auto-attendant software has phone number support flexibility in over 100 countries, allowing your business to expand virtually in areas where you do not have a physical presence. However, the software’s collaboration features are currently limited to file sharing and video meetings.
Furthermore, the software utilizes AI to assist you in monitoring and managing your voice interactions, helping your team leaders and managers. The software also has an app that is compatible with both Android and iOS, allowing you to access all your business communication such as chat, video messages, voice calls, and more.
|Best For||Integration with CRM and Helpdesk Tools|
Aircall is a cloud-based auto-attendant software that is perfect for e-commerce companies, enabling them to make their call centre more remote and efficient. It is an IT-approved, cloud-based solution that is ideal for sales and marketing teams.
This software is also easy to set up and enables you to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. Aircall also comes equipped with CRM features, helpdesk solutions, and other essential apps that provide all the necessary information to clients when they call.
Aircall allows you to manage and monitor your work, analyze calls, and measure your call metrics to make measurable improvements. It also includes features such as a cloud-based IVR menu, skill-based routing options, and more.
Regardless of the type of business you run, an automated answering service can greatly benefit your business and contribute to its growth. An automated answering service allows you to customize it to provide all necessary information to your callers. By doing so, you can greatly reduce operating costs, time and staff resources. High-quality customer service is heavily dependent on your telephone system, and customer satisfaction improves when exceptional customer service is provided.
What is the best phone system for business?
The best Business Phone Systems are as follows
What is the automated phone answering system called?
Interactive voice response (IVR) is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information and routes calls to the appropriate recipients.
What is an IVR dialer?
An IVR Dialer is an automated dialer that dials numbers from a given database and plays IVR (Interactive Voice Response) messages when connected.
What are the limitations of telephone answering machines?
The Disadvantages of Using an Automated Phone Answering System
- Automated Phone Systems Can Alienate Customers.
- Automated Phone Systems Can Confuse Customers.
- Automated Phone Systems can Malfunction
- Automated Phone Systems can be Inefficient