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The Best Call Center Services for 2020

By Adam Uzialko,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Sep 28, 2020

Our team has compared the best call center services for 2020. See up-to-date reviews for the top-rated answering services.
Featured Sponsor
Dedicated and shared agents
Inbound and outbound services
Variety of pricing plans
Best for Inbound Services
Several pricing plans to choose from
Custom packages are available
Offers inbound and outbound services
Best Overall Call Center Service
Pre-paid-minute pricing
Second-to-second billing
Unused minutes roll over
Outbound Services
Several outbound services are available
Cold-calling is available
Company offers a consultation approach to campaigns
Best for Low-Volume Businesses
Cost-effective, low volume plans
Customer service focus
Easy-to-understand packages
Our team has compared the best call center services for 2020. See up-to-date reviews for the top-rated answering services.
Updated 09/28/20

This page has been updated with new answers to frequently asked questions about call center services.

Today, the best call center services do more than answer the phone on your behalf. They also monitor and respond to emails, moderate social media accounts and offer live webchat services. To help you find the best service, we researched more than 50 companies, scrutinizing pricing and services offered to determine the options we think are best for various businesses. Below, see our reviews of some major call center services and the specific services we feel that stand out from the crowd.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
52
Considered
10
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Go Answer TeleDirect Five Star Call Centers Signius Communications
Pricing Starts at $50 per month, plus $1.15 per minute Starts at $1,100 per month for 1,000 minutes Varies by campaign Starts at $45 per month for 50 minutes
Billing Increment Second-to-second Second-to-second Second-to-second 12-second increments
Charged for Agent Work Time? No No No No
Inbound/Out-bound Services? Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/No

Our Reviews

XACT: Featured Sponsor

Visit Site
XACT offers flexible plans and services, making it a good choice for businesses of all sizes and growth stages. Both shared and dedicated agent options are available. Solutions include a range of answering and call center services. Inbound and outbound call center services include those for customer service, help desks, appointment setting, hotlines, email management and web chat. Among the answering services available are live agent answering, message taking, order taking and appointment setting. XACT services are available to businesses in all industries.
Read Review

Go Answer: Best for Inbound Services

Several pricing plans – including a pay-as-you-go option – are available to accommodate the needs of small and large businesses.
It has a comprehensive offering of inbound services and some outbound services.
A one-time setup fee of $75 is required.
Visit Site
Go Answer is our pick as the best inbound call center due to its services, exceptional customer support and competitive pricing structure. Go Answer offers multiple pricing packages that support any call volume, from 100 minutes to 10,000 minutes. If one of their pricing plans doesn't suit you, you can negotiate a custom plan that includes the services you need at the call volume that your business typically experiences. Go Answer offers outbound services as well, including customer follow-ups, market research and lead qualification, if you provide a list of precaptured contacts. Beyond its exceptional inbound services, Go Answer is a great all-around partner and should be considered a contender by any small, mid-sized or large business needing to outsource its calls.
Read Review

TeleDirect: Best Overall Call Center Service

Prepaid pricing model allows businesses to purchase only the minutes they need.
Any unused minutes roll over to the next month – you don't lose minutes you've already paid for.
TeleDirect requires that you use 29 minutes each month for your account to remain active.
TeleDirect is our pick as the best overall call center service. It offers both inbound and outbound services, plus it offers additional features, like interactive voice response, email management and live web chat support. TeleDirect's pricing model is unique in that you purchase minutes on an as-needed basis, which roll over month to month so long as you use 29 minutes of service each month. TeleDirect offers bilingual English and Spanish support, HIPAA-compliant data security and access to complete call center reporting metrics through a real-time dashboard located within TeleDirect's web portal. Reporting includes the number of calls answered, which agent answered the call, call duration and access to a complete audio recording of the call.
Read Review

Five Star Call Centers: Best Call Center for Outbound Services

Of the companies we evaluated, Five Star has one of the most comprehensive offerings of outbound services, including cold-calling services.
It offers inbound services and shared agents for incoming calls.
A monthly minimum of $3,000 is required for outbound campaigns.
Five Star Call Centers offers an array of services that make it the best solution for businesses needing an outbound calling solution. Outbound services include upselling, cross-selling, recruiting, market research, cold-calling, direct mail follow-ups and fundraising. Five Star will also help you design your entire campaign, from drafting your script to organizing and carrying out each step of your campaign. Its personalized service and direct campaign assistance make it our best pick for outbound call center services. Few other call centers matched the services Five Star offers, even though it maintains a high minimum – $3,000 per month. The company customizes its services to suit the needs of the businesses it works with, and it doesn't require a long-term contract. In addition to the multiple services it offers clients, Five Star boasts exemplary customer service, with friendly, responsive and informative representatives.
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Signius Communications: Best Service for Low-Volume Businesses

Signius Communications offers very low-volume plans at reasonable rates, starting at $45 per month for 50 minutes.
Its specialty is providing high-quality live answering and professional customer service.
This service isn't well suited for businesses with large call volumes or omnichannel customer service needs.
Signius Communications is our pick as the best call center for businesses that have a low volume of incoming calls. It offers a simple, straightforward and cost-effective service. While the company doesn't offer outbound call services or features like email management, live web chat, or interactive voice response, its focus is on providing quality customer support services and order entry and processing for clients. It also provides robust reports that are updated daily at no extra cost to clients. October 2019: Signius Communications has updated its pricing since our last full evaluation of the call center services category. The base rate of the Starter package, which includes 50 minutes per month of answering services, is now $45 per month. Signius Communications also offers the Pro package of 125 minutes at $109 per month and the Premier package of 250 minutes at $213 per month. We will consider this pricing change in our full evaluation when we next update the call center service reviews.
Read Review

Call center services do more than simply answer phone calls placed to your business. (In fact, some services are rebranding themselves as "contact centers.") Yes, they handle incoming calls for customer service, tech support, and order processing, of course, but many also manage appointment setting, lead generation, and other outbound calling tasks. The best call centers handle email, live chat and social media channels.

Choosing a call center can be difficult: There are dozens of companies to choose from, and you need to evaluate multiple factors, including pricing, if you're bound by a contract, the types of services offered, and the quality of its customer care. Making the wrong choice is gambling with your customers' loyalty.

If your business is in a heavily regulated industry, you need a call center that specializes in working with businesses like yours and has the necessary certifications, as well as special training or licensed agents, to provide the support you and your customers need. For example, if your business is a medical practice, the service must be HIPAA compliant.  

Pricing

Call center services don't typically post their pricing online, because what you pay is determined by the specific services you select and your average monthly call volume.

If your business is highly specialized (or is based in a specialized industry, like a medical practice), or you need knowledgeable agents or agents to work exclusively on your account, that also affects your pricing. Inbound services, such as customer service calls and taking orders over the phone, tend to be less expensive than outbound services, such as lead generation calls.

Providers use different pricing models. Some charge per call or per minute, while others charge a monthly fee, which may be tied to a certain number of call minutes per month, with a smaller per-minute fee charged for call overages. Others offer pay-as-you-go plans where you pay an advance plus the call time you use.

As you evaluate services, make sure you are crystal clear on the pricing model the company uses, how it works, what features or services are included in your plan and what costs extra. For example, if a company charges by the minute, you want to find out if it bills in intervals, such as 1 second, 6 seconds or 12 seconds. You also want to find out if there's a minimum call time and if the agent's post-call actions (such as entering notes about the call into the system or relaying messages) count toward your minutes.

Various fees and upcharges apply. When you call for price quotes, ask about upfront fees (such as a fee for setting up your account) and any recurring and incidental fees (such as overages or holiday rates) that you may be charged. Before selecting a service, ask the provider if you can review the contract in advance so you're aware of all possible fees.

Buying Guide

Negotiation Tips

Because you'll most likely be working with a sales rep to design your service plan, you might be able to negotiate pricing, terms or services. These pointers can help you get a good deal.

Figure out what you need. Before you call any companies for quotes, determine your average monthly call volume and exactly what you need the call center to do. This will help you get accurate quotes.

Get a ballpark idea of how much call center services cost. Although most companies don't post their pricing online, some do. Examine pricing tiers, fees and included services, then consider which one best aligns with your business. Use this information as a gauge as you evaluate additional companies.

Gather price quotes from at least three companies. Besides monthly rates, ask how much it costs to get set up, how long the contract is, what fees you'll pay and if there are monthly minimums. Ask if the company is running any specials or promotions. Finally, ask the sales agent to email you a quote and a contract to review.

Compare rates, fees, contract terms and services. Of the companies on your shortlist, read the contract and talk with the sales rep. Ask about any fees you don't understand or that weren't disclosed in the quote. If you were quoted lower rates, fewer fees, better terms or bonus services elsewhere, ask if the service you'd like to use will match them.

Finally, many of the services we evaluated offer a free trial period. Take advantage of it to ensure the service will truly help your business. During the trial, make several test calls so you experience their customer service firsthand. If there are issues, work with your sales rep or the customer service team to correct them. If you're pleased with the trial and satisfied that you're getting a good value, go ahead and sign up. Otherwise, consider the next company on your list.

Features Offered by the Best Call Center Services

Below are the criteria we looked for when evaluating call center services. Customer support is critical, because call center representatives are ambassadors for your company, and their interactions with your customers directly affect your business.

Services Offered 

The best call centers provide several types of inbound and outbound calling services. Many companies assist with lead generation, market research, seminar and event registration.

Inbound calling services are critical, too. Some popular inbound calling services handle customer assistance and technical support for a program or software.

Many call center services now offer live webchat support as well as email and social media management services. Consider which services your business needs by determining where your customers are most likely to contact you (and what channels are most convenient for them) and then choose your call center partner accordingly.

Campaign Success Features

Look for a call center solution located in the U.S. to ensure a positive customer experience. Many call centers are located overseas and hire employees for whom English is a second language. This may be an issue if your customers have a difficult time understanding and communicating with representatives, which can cost your business money. Every company on our list is based in the U.S. and employs native English speakers.

Another tool that can contribute to a successful campaign and a positive customer experience is script development. The best call center services help you create a script that the service's representatives follow when speaking with your customers. This script helps call center reps provide knowledgeable, professional customer service to your clients. It also ensures that the representatives deliver consistent information, which is important for marketing and sales.  

Reporting 

Many call centers provide call completion and refusal reports. A call completion report shows how many agents completed the entire script with a customer before the call ended. A refusal report shows the number of agents who were not able to complete the script or how many individuals declined to make a purchase or take the survey. Many companies offer customizable reporting options, so you can receive key statistics on the progress of your campaigns.

The frequency of reports is another important factor, especially if you are contracting with a call center on a time-sensitive campaign. Many call center companies give you the option of receiving daily reports so you stay abreast of your campaign.

Help and Support

The support you receive from a call center service is critical. After all, call centers interact with your customers, and you want them to receive the best assistance possible. All of the services we evaluated provide phone and email support. In addition, many have online resources, such as FAQs and articles, for finding answers on your own.

Our Methodology

We began our research by drafting a list of call centers. We searched the web and consulted other lists and reviews. We ended up with 50 call center services to examine. 

From there, we visited the websites of each vendor to compare pricing and features. We scrutinized services (inbound, outbound), invoice requirements, call minimums and additional features. Services that did not meet our initial requirements were eliminated.  

Next, we contacted the remaining services, posing as a customer. We wanted to go beyond the marketing rhetoric and get a feel for how the companies handle actual customer interactions. We asked each customer service rep the same set of questions about the company's features, options and pricing, and we recorded our observations about the experience.

Our ultimate decisions were based on several factors, including which ones offered the best balance of affordability, useful features and how professional and helpful the services' representatives were.

Which Call Center Service Is Right for You?

Some call center services offer every service under the sun; others specialize in particular areas. To more easily determine which service is right for you, consider whether you need an inbound service, an outbound one or perhaps a hybrid of both types of services.

Inbound vs. outbound call center services

Inbound call center services take incoming calls from customers, clients, suppliers or partners. In other words, the call originates outside the call center and an agent is answering the phone on your behalf. Inbound call center services include message taking, customer service and complaint management. Inbound call center services can also include omnichannel support, such as live web chat support or email management.

Outbound call center services involve a call center agent making calls on your behalf. These services are typically considered more sophisticated and generally require the skills of a dedicated agent. Outbound call center services include services like lead generation, polls, surveys and market research.

Most inbound services can generally be performed with less-expensive shared agents, while many outbound call center services require a dedicated agent. This is not a hard and fast rule; it is a general expectation you should keep in mind when evaluating various services.

Contracts 

Some call centers have minimum requirements you must meet, such as a minimum time commitment and/or a minimum number of calling hours within a defined time frame. For example, you might have to agree to at least 100 hours of representatives interacting with your customers. If you fail to meet these requirements or break your contract early, you could be charged a fee or for the hours remaining in your contract, even if you have not used them.

Issues to Consider

Call centers can be great resources, but they're not always necessary. Use our checklist below to determine whether you need a call center service. If several of the statements below are true, consider trying a call center solution.

  • My employees and I spend too much time answering phone calls.
  • My company is losing sales because we don't have time to follow up on leads.
  • I don't have time to run my business because I am answering customer questions.

  • We miss many customer calls because the phone lines are busy.

  • It takes my team longer than 24 hours to return customer phone calls because there's so much to do.

  • We have a hard time keeping track of appointments.

  • My team doesn't have time to call and remind clients about upcoming appointments.

  • Several of our customers speak languages other than English, but none of my staff can assist them.

  • I know we need help, but I don't think we have enough work to hire a full-time receptionist to answer phones.

  • Customers often call asking for help with placing their orders, and we don't have the staff or extra time to guide them through ordering processes.

  • We want to improve our customer service, but we don't currently have the resources to do so.

  • Our customers call at all hours, and we can't always answer the phones when our clientele needs us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do call centers work?

A: The companies we reviewed are U.S.-based and available 24/7. All of them have bilingual agents who speak Spanish, as well as English, and several can help your customers with other language needs.

You can instruct representatives to do any number of things with your calls. They can take messages from inbound calls or transfer calls to you, they can set appointments and help with order processing, or you can have agents handle technical calls following a custom script about your business and its products or services. Some companies charge extra for custom scripts, especially for complex ones. Keep this in mind when shopping for a call center service.

You can have the call center perform outbound calls in addition to taking inbound calls. Outbound call services include administering surveys, placing scheduled calls to customers for follow-up purposes, lead generation services and even cold-calling, though some call centers no longer participate in cold-calling if you do not have the customer's information in your system already.

Q: What are the benefits of a call center?

A: Call centers free up your and your employees' time so you can focus on the important aspects of running your business while others handle your phone calls. A call center is a good way to improve your customer service without taxing your current resources, and it's a cost-effective solution, especially if you purchase a plan that lets you pay for minutes you use them.

Call center services also help you close sales since someone is available to assist with order processing and appointment setting. You can also have call centers follow up with your customers and work on converting leads into customers.

Q: How much do call centers charge?

A: Call centers vary significantly in their cost from company to company. While many advertise per-minute rates, more goes into pricing than just the rate alone. Many charge a setup fee, and some charge additional fees for certain services. Some round usage up, which can inflate costs; some round to the nearest 6-second increment, while others round up to as much as the nearest minute. A call center that rounds up usage might have a lower rate, but your total bill will likely be much higher. The best call centers will explain your rate and any additional charges.

The features you choose and your average monthly call volume also influence how much you will pay for a call center service. On average, call centers charge 75 cents to $1.15 per minute, which, depending on your call volume, could total several hundred dollars a month. Further, if you want a dedicated agent, you'll pay an hourly rate, which can range from $25 to $65 per hour.

Q: How do inbound call centers work?

A: Inbound call centers typically involve what is known as a shared agent environment, where several representatives handle your account alongside other clients. Inbound call centers manage incoming calls from a customer to your business, including customer service inquiries, order taking, complaints and more.

Every call center is slightly different. Some simply capture caller contact information and take a message, while others manage the call from start to finish without transferring it over to you. Most inbound calls can be handled by shared agents, although some more advanced functions might require dedicated agents, which are more expensive.

Q: How do outbound call centers work?

A: Outbound call centers almost always require expensive dedicated or semidedicated agents, which are focused on only your account, or your account and just two or three other businesses. Outbound calling campaigns involve telemarketing, lead generation and market research, such as polls and surveys.

Outbound call centers typically focus on drumming up new leads or gathering market insights to inform broader business strategies. They tend to be campaign-driven, rather than continuous like inbound call center services. Outbound call center services are commonly used by larger companies.

Q: How can call center outsourcing help business growth?

A: Call center outsourcing can help small businesses grow by improving customer service and the overall customer experience without detracting from operational resources. Call center agents are trained in customer service and professionalism; they are tasked with boosting customer satisfaction and increasing retention rates. For small businesses that have general staff manning the phones in addition to their other duties, a call center service agent takes the pressure off and frees up staff to focus on other tasks.

Q: What companies outsource call centers?

A: Businesses that commonly outsource customer service to a call center include retail businesses, banks, property management businesses and more. Some businesses might prefer using an answering service, which tends to be more narrowly focused on a specific type of answering, such as for an attorney's office or a medical practice.

The best candidates to work with a call center are businesses that have trouble managing their day-to-day communications with customers or those that have unexpected spikes in call volume. Additionally, some businesses partner with call centers for after-hours support so their customers have a professional representative to reach around the clock. For some businesses, call centers serve as a tool to drum up new leads and business, helping them to grow when they've reached a plateau.

Q: What is a call type?

A: A call type refers to how calls are categorized. More specifically, it defines the routing scripts for calls. The call service can create and adjust call types to accommodate the kind of service the caller wants. There are both inbound services and outbound. Examples of specific types of call types include lead generation, market research, crisis management, message taking and customer service.

Q: Where are most call centers located?

A: According to a 2018 Statista report, Texas has the highest call center employment in the country, with Florida being a close second. The United Kingdom has the most call centers, followed by the U.S., the Philippines and India, based on a report from the Site Selection Group.

Whether you work with a domestic or offshore call center is a key decision. Offshore call centers tend to be significantly less expensive than domestic call centers. However, they might not have as many services or as high security standards. Additionally, offshore call centers might employ agents with thick accents, which can reduce customer satisfaction.

Q: What are the disadvantages of outsourcing a call center?

A: When outsourcing your call center services, you may run into a few hiccups that affect your company's service and reputation. For example, if you outsource to a different country, your customers and employees may struggle to communicate through language barriers or different accents, which can affect the quality of service clients receive.

As a business owner, you won't have as much control over the call center's employees as your in-house ones. You're entrusting a big part of your customer service to another company's team, and it could be hard to manage and guide them if they fall short of your standards. There are also inherent security risks in outsourcing, because you are placing your business and client data in the hands of a third party you don't interact with daily.

Community Experts on Call Center Services

We asked some of our small business owner readers which call center they use for their businesses. Brad Cook, partner development for Alfred International Inc., said his company uses mindStart, based in Austin, Texas, and are very happy with their experience and their team.

"This is our first call center relationship, and although we did review several options before signing on with mindStart [in February 2019], their considerable experience, North American-based location and team members, as well as … existing clients in the technology sector were all critical attributes for us," Cook told business.com. 

Matt Schmidt, CEO of Diabetes Life Solutions, said he uses VoiceNation and is pleased with the service they receive. He likes that in addition to their staff being properly trained to speak to clients, they get a text message notification and an email with a recording of the phone call.

"Being a virtual agency, they have helped us immensely handling these incoming phone calls instead of us assigning an employee to pick up the calls on top of their additional duties," Schmidt said.

For Alistair Bambridge, founder, Bambridge Accountants, Ruby Receptionists has been a good choice. He said their staff is very polite when answering calls and the messages they provide are detailed. "[The] Cost is good as well, and they split out cold calls, so you don't keep getting charged for those," Bambridge said.

What to Expect in 2020

In 2020, customers will increasingly look to live web chat for assistance. More than 41% of customers already expect a live chat channel to be on a business's website, according to Kayako. Live chat is no longer a nice bonus – it is a competitive necessity. Live chat is expected to grow by 87% within the next year or two, so it is important to offer your customers this channel to avoid falling behind the competition. Call center services can often help you set up and manage a live chat tool embedded directly on your existing website.

Many call center services are also implementing artificial intelligence to better serve their client companies' customers. For call centers, AI has made a big impact with interactive voice response (IVR), the automated phone trees that many customer service departments use to improve efficiency. AI-enabled IVR tools can better interpret customer accents and intonation, and assign incoming calls to the appropriate agents.

Modern business is driven by big data and granular insights. Call center services are increasingly deploying solutions for their clients to access their data analytics to help them make more informed marketing decisions. Data-driven insights can reveal your customers' preferences and help you determine where there is room for improvement in customer satisfaction so you can build a strong brand, capture new customers and gain repeat business.

June 2020: A recent market analysis conducted by Technavio suggests the global call center outsourcing market could grow by more than $13.5 billion through 2023, representing a compound annual growth rate of 3%. A major driver of the growth, a plurality of which is expected to occur in North America, is the introduction of robotic process automation in call center operations. RPA is designed to automate and streamline common call center processes, such as customer identification or call routing to the correct agents. The report also states that the industry will continue to be highly fragmented through 2023.

Call Centers and Answering Services Infographic

Understanding Call Centers and Answering Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

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How do you handle returning a phone call you forgot about?
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David Mans
David Mans
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Hi Denise, I am the kind of person that would forget their head if it weren't sewn on. So I know exactly what your client is experiencing. In regards to etiquette, I would suggest he refrain from stating that he was "too busy" to return a call. That immediately implies that the caller is of no importance to him. Instead, he should apologize for not calling sooner. In regards to systems being put in place, this is paramount. If your client is lacking organizational skills, there are...
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How do I get genuine campaigns for a call center?
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Christian Glahn
Christian Glahn
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If you offer benefits over a company hiring their own inbound agents, what you could do is look for companies that are hiring full-time inbound agents, maybe use Craigslist, Monster.com, Dice.com ... and newspaper classifieds. Once you find those that are seeking inbound agents, approach them by phone, email, in-person or by sending a brochure outlining why they could use you, rather than internally staffing their company.
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Is there a "good" way to cold call?
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Robert Minskoff
Robert Minskoff
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Absolutely. Like most things in life, your success will depend on several factors. Having a firm, but a flexible process. Phone, email, etc... Knowing your prospects inside and out. In other words, do your homework. Have a clear, engaging, and consistent message. Time of day and week can depend on the verticals you are calling. I like early mornings and late in the day. Always get the next action. When speaking to a "gate-keeper", don't make it a sales call. For example, you want to schedule an...
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Sherry Holub
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Hi Georgia, As it looks like you're finding out, making it easy doesn't always mean that a customer will actually leave feedback. What I call "natural" feedback is the type that tends to be given when something really does not meet a customer's expectations/is really bad, or it was so amazing that they're inspired to leave feedback. If you want to coax everyone else to leave some feedback, try incentivising it. For example, do the feedback cards offer the customer anything for their...
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Other Services Considered

Featured Sponsor
XACT
With 22 locations across the U.S., XACT is a flexible answering service and call center with a variety of pricing plans and services suitable for businesses of all sizes. It offers both shared and dedicated agents. Available services include live operator answering, message taking, order taking and appointment setting. XACT also provides call center services, including those for customer service, help desks, appointment reminders, hotlines, email management and web chat.
Ansafone

Ansafone Contact Centers offers both answering services and call center services, with a variety of plans and features to suit a wide range of business needs. Ansafone creates custom programs for its clients, including both inbound and outbound services. Live answering is available around the clock at each of Ansafone's contact centers, which are located in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida and California.

AnswerConnect offers answering services as well as inbound and outbound call center services for businesses of all different sizes and service level needs. Whether in its basic message-taking services or more advanced functions like order processing, AnswerConnect can tailor a program for any business.

BPO American is our pick as the best customizable answering service. It offers both answering services and call center services. (The primary difference between both types of services is that answering services are a specialized version of call center services, geared specifically toward small offices, unique businesses and niche industries.) BPO American has six different pricing plans for various call volumes and can develop custom packages for clients with specific needs.

  • Live answering: BPO American offers 24/7/365 live answering by agents who work off scripts generated based on details you provide. Agents can answer basic questions, capture caller information, transfer calls and take messages for your business.

  • Order taking: BPO American agents can help callers navigate e-commerce platforms and create new orders.

  • Transfers: Live transfers can be set up so that agents can directly transfer a call to the relevant party if a caller needs to speak to a member of your organization.

  • Lead capture: BPO American allows you to set five custom questions its agents can ask callers in order to obtain lead information. You can always change these questions (and other details) in the client portal.

  • Appointment setting: You can add appointment setting to your answering services so agents can automatically schedule appointments on a digital calendar and alert you when a new appointment has been set.

  • Email response: BPO American offers email management services and can respond to email inquiries as well as phone calls.

  • Web chat: BPO American can implement a live chat feature on your company website so customers can ask questions and receive a timely response.

BPO American has six service plans, starting at $29 per month and topping out at $369 per month. There is no setup fee, and all plans run month-to-month with no penalty for canceling.

Here's more about the price structure of BPO American's answering service plans:

  • Plan A: This plan costs $29 per month and includes 25 minutes with text message delivery, email delivery, transfers. The overage rate is $1.09 per minute.

  • Plan B: For $89 per month, you get 75 minutes and all the features of Plan A, plus online reporting. The overage rate is 95 cents per minute.

  • Plan C: This package costs $109 per month and comes with 100 minutes. It includes all the features in Plan B; the overage rate is 90 cents per minute.

  • Plan D: For $139 per month, you get 125 minutes and all the features of Plan C. The overage rate for this plan is 85 cents per minute.

  • Plan E: This package costs $229 per month and includes 250 minutes and all the features of Plan D. The overage rate drops down to 80 cents per minute.

  • Plan F: For  $369 per month, you get 425 minutes, plus all the features of Plan E. The overage rate for this plan is 75 cents per minute.

BPO American offers custom packages as well. Contact a sales representative to discuss your options and to get a custom price quote. BPO American offers a three-day, no-credit-card-required free trial with 75 minutes included.

Call Center Sales Pro offers both answering services and call center services tailored on a client-by-client basis. In addition to answering services and both inbound and outbound call center services, the company offers consulting services. Call Center Sales Pro maintains four domestic call centers in Tennessee, California and Ohio.

Call Experts offers both inbound and outbound services. The company maintains a dozen monthly subscription plans that range from 50 minutes to 5,000 minutes, all of which are priced at competitive per-minute usage rates.

OnBrand24 offers a strong list of both inbound and outbound call center services, with every core feature we looked for and then some. It's a great choice for businesses with a diverse set of needs, specialized requirements or the desire to scale with their call center partner. However, the company charges a high monthly minimum for its shared agent model, making it cost-prohibitive for small businesses on a budget and those with low call volumes.

Specialty Answering Service (SAS) is our pick as the best overall answering service. It offers inbound and outbound call center services and several flexible pricing plans, making it a scalable service that can accommodate the needs of your growing company. All calls are answered in the company's California-based contact center.

Here's more about the key features SAS offers businesses:

  • Live answering: SAS' operators answer your business's phone calls 24/7/365. Agents use a client-provided script, which you can customize at any time.

  • Message taking: Agents can take down caller names, their contact info, reason for calling, and then forward the message to your business via phone, text, or email.

  • Order taking: If your business needs some extra help facilitating orders, SAS' agents can assist your customers with e-commerce purchases. Agents can enter and confirm payment information, and can upsell and cross-sell products to your business's customers.

  • Lead capture: For inbound calls, agents can capture lead information and details about where the caller is in the buying journey, which can help your business follow up on potential new sales opportunities.

  • Appointment scheduling: If your business needs help scheduling appointments, SAS agents can set new appointments, which appear in a shared calendar. Each time a new appointment is scheduled, you are notified. All appointments can be viewed in real time on the shared calendar.

  • Bilingual support: SAS agents can assist English and Spanish-speaking callers.

SAS has eight pricing plans designed to suit the budgets of small and large businesses. Its rates are competitive for its high-volume packages and somewhat more expensive for its lower-volume plans (but are not cost prohibitive). It offers a pay-as-you-go plan for low-volume businesses. A 14-day, no-obligation free trial is available for businesses to try before making a buying decision.

SAS' pricing plans are as follows:

  • Plan A: $31 per month base fee, plus $1.19 per minute

  • Plan B: $117 per month for 100 minutes, plus a $1.09 per-minute overage

  • Plan C: $199 per month for 220 minutes, plus a $1.09 per-minute overage

  • Plan D: $490 per month for 500 minutes, in addition to a 99 cents-per-minute overage

  • Plan E: $925 for 1,000 minutes, plus a 95 cents-per-minute overage

  • Plan F: $2,200 for 2,500 minutes, plus an 89 cents-per-minute overage

  • Plan G: $4,199 for 5,000 minutes, in addition to a 85 cents-per-minute overage

  • Plan H: $7,749 for 10,000 minutes, plus a 79 cents-per-minute overage

Service is month-to-month. (No long-term contracts are required.) Clients can change plans on a monthly basis if they expect a spike or dip in call volume. There is a $50 setup fee; however, SAS typically waives the fee if you become a client following the 14-day free trial.

SAS bills in 1-second increments, meaning that clients are only charged for the time that is used. Many call centers and answering services round up to 6-or 12-second increments, and some round up further. SAS does not round up time and only bills for the time that its agents are engaged with callers.

Image Credit: bernardbodo / Getty Images
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