PCMSI is our pick as the best low-cost answering service because of its low-volume plans and incredibly low per-minute rates. With several tiered plans that range from 60 minutes to 4,000 minutes per month and rates as low as 55 cents per minute, PCMSI is an exceptionally cost-effective solution. PCMSI agents handle all calls through the company's office in Erie, Pennsylvania.
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Answering Service Features
PCMSI offers several types of services for businesses. It met all of the features we look for in an answering service and then some. Here's more about PCMSI's key services and features:
- Live answering: PCMSI agents are available 24/7/365 to answer phones on clients' behalf, using a script developed by the client in cooperation with the PCMSI account manager. If you need to make a change to the script agents use, you'll work with your PCMSI account manager.
- Call transfers: Agents can transfer calls directly to you or specified staff members when required, connecting customers directly with you without placing them on hold.
- Appointment scheduling: PCMSI agents can schedule appointments that can be viewed in real time by all users who have access to the master calendar. When new appointments are set, you and your staff are notified via email or text message.
- Order taking: Agents can take orders from your customers and provide detailed product information and customer service.
- Lead capture: With each call, agents capture the names and contact information of leads for later use. Agents can also follow up on captured leads.
- Help desk: PCMSI offers a Level 1 helpdesk service that offers basic technical support for products and software. If an issue requires technical assistance, PCMSI agents can dispatch calls directly to your company's IT departments.
If your business is in the healthcare sector, PCMSI offers HIPAA-compliant services and encryption. Other features include employee call-out lines, emergency dispatching and event registration. Services are all flexible based on your business's needs and can be set up with a PCMSI account manager.
PCMSI offers four different tiers of plans. It's Business and Enterprise plans offer some of the lowest rates among the answering services we evaluated. The Enterprise plan of 4,000 minutes per month has a rate of just over 55 cents per minute. Even the mid-tier plan is an affordable option for businesses on a budget. Overage fees for each plan are 75 cents per minute, which was on the low end compared to other answering services we evaluated.
- $67 per month, which includes 60 minutes
- $99 per month, which covers 120 minutes
- $154 per month, which includes 240 minutes
- $219 per month, which includes 360 minutes
- $285 per month, which includes 480 minutes
- $355 per month, which includes 600 minutes
- $425 per month, which includes 720 minutes
- $515 per month, which comes with 900 minutes
- $570 per month, which covers 1,020 minutes
- $700 per month, which includes 1,260 minutes
- $825 per month, which includes 1,500 minutes
- $1,100 per month, which includes 2,000 minutes
- $1,375 per month, which includes 2,500 minutes
- $1,650 per month, which covers 3,000 minutes
- $1,925 per month, which comes with 3,500 minutes
- $2,200 per month, which includes 4,000 minutes
There is an additional fee for some other services. Here's more about those services and their related fees:
- Pre-operator announcement: $10 per month
- Voicemail: $20 per month
- Patching: 10 cents per minute
- Appointment setting: $40 per month for PCMSI online calendar
- Additional phone lines: $10 per month, per number
- Secure text message: $6 per month (HIPAA-compliant accounts)
- Faxing messages: $10 per month
- Email management: 75 cents per email
PCMSI bills in 1-second increments, which means there is no rounding up in terms of minutes used. If a call lasts for 1 minute and 5 seconds, clients are billed for 65 seconds. The industry standard is to bill in 6-second increments. PCMSI stands out in this regard. It also does not charge for post-call work time, meaning that you only pay for the time agents are on the phone with callers.
There is a one-time setup fee of $35, which was low, too, compared to the setup fees other answering services we assessed charge. You'll need to remit a deposit for the first and last month of service. After that, you are billed each month for your plan plus any overage fees incurred. All calls are recorded and stored for review if needed.
A major limitation of PCMSI is that there isn't a client portal on its website that you can access to view monthly usage information, call details, or to customize your call script. As a client of PCMSI, you can set up email and text message notifications to receive the information typically available to you through a portal; however, that information isn't available to you at a moment's notice.
The representative we spoke with told us a client portal could be coming soon, but at the time this review was written, no portal was available.
A second limitation is that if you need to make any changes to your script, you'll need to call or email the company and coordinate with them to implement those changes.
Our customer service experience with PCMSI was exceptional. We spoke with a knowledgeable representative who patiently walked us through their services and explained their billing structure. The representative was friendly and thorough, offering us insights into billing policies like second increments, deposits and setup fees. After requesting a follow-up email with more information, the representative quickly reached out and followed up multiple times to see if we had any additional questions. Even after we explained we were only in the research stage and wouldn't be making a buying decision, he remained engaged and attentive and was never pushy.
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