Contact Communications is an answering service that includes all the key features we looked for and boasts very low per-minute usage rates. However, the high billing increments and base rates inflate the monthly bill, which is something to consider if you're looking to keep costs as low as possible. While its minute rates are among the lowest in our reviews, keep in mind that those rates are not the only factor influencing the bill. Contact Communications agents answer calls out of two locations in Vermont and New York.
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Answering Service Features
Contact Communications boasts a strong slate of services and flexible options to meet your company's needs. Contact Communications includes all the major services we looked for, plus useful add-ons like faxing and call patching. HIPAA-compliant encryption is also available for all communications.
- Live answering: Contact Communications offers live answering 24/7 or, for a lower base rate, during business hours only. Agents operate off guidelines you set rather than detailed scripts to create a more personable rapport with customers.
- Customer support: Agents are available to offer customer support, such as explaining your products, services or pricing. If agents are unable to answer customer questions, they can forward messages to your business or patch over the call directly.
- Order taking: Contact Communications agents can walk customers through purchasing products on e-commerce stores, helping to reduce cart abandonment rates and possibly upsell.
- Appointment scheduling: Agents can set appointments directly in your calendar. When a new appointment is scheduled, you can be notified by phone, email or text message.
- Technical support: Agents can offer Tier 1 technical support services to customers who need to troubleshoot your products or software.
- FAQs: Agents can keep FAQs you provide on hand for quick reference if a caller needs commonly sought information. A FAQs list reduces the need to take messages and patch calls by providing agents with the answers they will need for many callers.
Contact Communications' billing model is somewhat uncommon, consisting of a base rate plus a per-minute usage rate dependent on the number of minutes you require each month. Both rates are broken down below; add the base rate to the per-minute rate for the appropriate package of minutes to determine your monthly cost of usage (assuming no overages are incurred).
- 24-hour live answering: $40 per month ($33.50 with annual prepay)
- 16-hour live answering: $35 per month ($29.16 with annual prepay)
- 8-hour live answering: $30 per month ($25 with annual prepay)
- 24-hour automated greeting: $25 per month ($19.99 with annual prepay)
- Less than 500 minutes per month: 79 cents per minute
- 500 to 1,000 minutes per month: 73 cents per minute
- More than 1,000 minutes per month: 60 cents per minute
For all plans, the usage of a toll-free number adds $5 to the monthly base rate and 5 cents per minute to the usage rate. These add-ons are also available from Contact Communications:
- Email messages: Free, including encrypted emailing in compliance with HIPAA laws
- Text to cell: $5 per month per cell phone
- Voicemail: $5 per month
- Call patching: $1 per patch charge, plus per-minute usage
- Faxing: Per-minute usage charge
- E-fax: $9.95 per month
- Appointment scheduling: $10 per month
Contact Communications charges a one-time setup fee of $30, which is low for the answering services in our review. All services are month to month unless you choose annual or semiannual prepayment. Contact Communications offers some of the most competitive per-minute rates in our review; however, it also charges a base rate and bills in 30-second increments, which means it rounds up your usage to the nearest 30 seconds after the first minute of a call. These requirements inflate costs to varying degrees. Upon signing up, your business owes a first- and last-month deposit, along with the setup fee. Thereafter, you pay the monthly base rate plus the minute usage rate, as well as the fee for any add-ons.
The biggest drawback of Contact Communications is that it bills in 30-second increments after the one-minute mark. This means that after the first minute on a call, usage is always rounded up to the nearest 30 seconds. For example, a call that lasts one minute and four seconds will be billed as a 90-second call. Incremental billing is common in the call center and answering service industry, most often in six- or 12-second increments. Contact Communications' 30-second increments are on the high end, especially compared to the many answering services we reviewed that bill second to second. High billing increments may significantly inflate your usage totals at the end of each cycle, rendering Contact Communications' low per-minute rate less cost-effective.
Another limitation we ran into with Contact Communications is that it currently has no client portal for viewing your usage and billing or customizing your script. A representative we spoke to claimed a client portal was "coming soon," but as of this review's writing, no such portal existed. Any reporting associated with your account, therefore, can only be requested and reviewed at the end of each billing period. Most of the other answering services in our review offer at least some kind of client portal, many of which are fully functional with customization options.
Our customer service experience with Contact Communications was very good. We spoke with two patient, forthcoming representatives who explained the pricing model, onboarding process and services we could elect to use. Both representatives were also transparent about the high billing increments and additional fees. We immediately received a proposal upon request, and when the pricing changed while we were still researching answering services, one representative followed up with an updated proposal. We never felt pushed to make a purchasing decision and always received attentive customer service during our process, even when we made clear we were not yet ready to subscribe to any answering service.
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