When your customers call, you want them to be greeted with professionalism and respect. Many business owners believe this can only be accomplished by employees who work at the business and are immersed in the company's culture. However, with the right answering service, your customers can speak with a professional, courteous representative on days and during times when your business may be closed.
And if you are worried about the cost of hiring an answering service, there is good news. Many companies provide an easy way you can evaluate the service first before making a long-term commitment.
Are there free answering services?
There isn't a completely free answering service, but many companies allow you to try their answering service for free for a limited time. By leveraging one or more free trial answering service opportunities you can see which service and features are the most beneficial for your business.
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Which answering services offer free trials?
Several companies offer free trials. Below we examine trial offers from five well-known answering services.
MAP Communications Inc. offers comprehensive answering services throughout the nation. Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, the company was founded in New York in 1990 and is owned by its employees.
- 24-hour live answering service: 24-hour availability is within your reach with the help of a live answering service. MAP Communications reps can answer your customers' questions and respond to concerns using scripts that are customized for your business.
- Appointment scheduling: When you are busy scheduling appointments, you are not closing deals. However, by leveraging a free answering service online trial, you can focus on fulfilling customer obligations without sacrificing lead generation.
- Call routing: Call routing, patching, forwarding and transfer are all possible with a live answering service. This helps your clients reach members of your team, even if employees are spread out across the country.
- Customized phone scripts: Phone scripts help ensure the representative answering calls for your business effectively helps your customers and provides the same level of service as what your employees would provide.
- Local and toll-free numbers: A toll-free number can incentivize customers who are not located in or near your area to interact with your company. If you only offer local services, MAP can utilize numbers within your local area code.
Length of free trial: 7 days
Cost of MAP Communications' services: The company offers three plans, with base costs ranging from $39 to $249 per month.
PATLive, founded almost 30 years ago, handles more than 2 million calls each year. Agents are located in Florida. The company has more than 150 virtual receptionists. PATLive guarantees that calls are answered within four rings, regardless of when a call comes in. [Read our review of PATLive to learn more about why it is our pick as the best answering service for small businesses.]
- 24/7 live answering service: Your business may not be open 24/7, but your customers may wish otherwise. With a free trial to an answering service, you can find out how many opportunities you are missing before making a decision.
- Order processing: PATLive can use your online system (or their software) to not only answer frequently asked questions but process orders and returns.
- Call screening: Working with this answering service, you can set your call preferences so that only the desired calls are sent through to you or your employees.
- Third-party integrations: No matter what software you use to run your business, PATLive may be able to integrate with it to more precisely and effectively help your clients.
Length of free trial: 14 days
Cost of PATLive's services: Business owners can choose from six plans; base costs start at $39 per month and range up to $999 per month.
ReceptionHQ is a subsidiary of OfficeHQ, a company that was established in 2003. Its U.S. headquarters and operations center is located in Arizona, and global offices are located in the United Kingdom and Australia to ensure international availability around the clock.
- 24/7 live answering service: Virtual receptionists are located in Arizona during regular office hours, and ongoing coverage is provided with receptionists in the U.K. and Australia.
- Online client portal and apps: Easily manage your greeting, calls, transfers and forwarding messages instantly via ReceptionHQ's online portal or apps, which are available for iPhone and Android devices.
- Bilingual service: Representatives fluent in Spanish are available to accounts at all levels at no additional cost.
- Customized service: The company offers a dedicated account manager and customized service that allow for greater flexibility with your answering service plan.
Length of free trial: 7 days
Cost of ReceptionHQ's services: You can choose from 10 plans. Base costs range from $20 to $654 per month, plus the company offers custom corporate solutions as well.
Go Answer was founded in 2012 as a family business with two employees. The business has grown to nearly 400 employees at three facilities dedicated to providing businesses of all sizes a comprehensive answering service that fits their specific needs. [Read our review of Go Answer to learn more about why it is our pick as the best inbound call center service.]
- Extensive free trial: The 30-day free trial is double the free trial periods of many competing answering services offer.
- HIPAA compliant: For businesses such as medical facilities, doctors' offices and legal offices that handle sensitive information, Go Answer can speedily relay patient and client calls using secure methods.
- Easy access: In addition to iPhone and Android apps to facilitate system integration and notifications, you can be alerted by email or SMS (text message) when something important happens.
- 24/7/365 live bilingual answering service: Packages that include Spanish-speaking virtual agents are available.
- Multiple support options: Besides offering live answering, Go Answer offers email support, web chat and even video chat support.
Length of free trial: 30 days
Cost of Go Answer's services: You'll need to contact the company to receive a custom price quote.
Specialty Answering Service
Specialty Answering Service (SAS) was founded in Pennsylvania in 1985 as a small answering service. By 2003, it became the multilingual international company that it is today. [Read our review of Specialty Answering Service to learn why it is our pick as the best overall answering service.]
- 24-hour live answering service: Approximately 20% of SAS employees speak fluent Spanish, which means your Spanish-speaking customers receive high-quality customer service from a fluent representative.
- No credit card required: The free trial requires no commitment at all.
- Calls are recorded: To ensure the service is providing the level of customer service you're expecting from an answering service, you can listen to recorded calls.
- Digital platform: SAS provides easy access to new messages, call history, recorded calls, call transcripts and notes in one place.
Length of free trial: 14 days
Cost of SAS' services: Eight plans are available; base costs range from $31 to $7,749 per month. Custom corporate solutions are available.
Answering incoming phone calls to field questions, complaints or to accept orders in a timely, courteous, and professional manner is essential to staying in business and staying ahead of your competition. However, having to constantly manage the phone lines when you have limited staff can impede business operations.
Whether you are in a busy retail environment or a professional office space, answering services, such as the five we profiled above, can provide quality service to your customers while freeing up some additional time so you can focus on running your business.
A free trial from an answering service is a great way to determine whether your business would benefit from this type of service. However, just because a service offers a free trial does not necessarily mean it will offer everything you need. Read our comparison of the best answering services to find the right one for your needs.