Specialty Answering Service Review

By
Adam Uzialko
,
business.com writer
| Updated
May 19, 2020
Image Credit: bernardbodo / Getty Images

Specialty Answering Service (SAS) is our pick for the best overall answering service. It offers several flexible pricing plans and all of the features we looked for in an answering service as well as inbound and outbound call center services, making it a scalable service that can grow with your company. All calls are answered in its California-based contact center.

Specialty Answering Service

Specialty Answering Service

The Best Call Center Services for 2020

The Verdict

Specialty Answering Service is the best overall answering service because of its highly flexible pricing plans and exceptional service. It offers inbound and outbound call center services, making it a scalable offering suitable for growing businesses.

For all of our answering service recommendations, visit our best picks page.

Pricing

SAS has eight different 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 not cost-prohibitive). It offers a pay-as-you-go plan for very low-volume businesses. A 14-day, no-obligation free trial is available for businesses to try before making a buying decision.

Specialty Answering Service's pricing plans are as follows:

  • Plan A: $31 per month, 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 an 85 cents per-minute overage

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

Service is on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contracts required. You can change plans on a monthly basis if you expect a spike or dip in call volume. There is a $50 setup fee, but SAS typically waives it if you become a client following the 14-day free trial.

SAS bills in one-second increments, meaning that you are only charged for the time you use. Many call centers and answering services round up to the nearest six or 12 seconds, and some even round up to the nearest minute. SAS does not round up time and only bills for the time that agents are engaged with your callers on the phone.

Call Center Features

When it comes to call center services, Specialty Answering Service met all of our requirements and expectations that we specifically look for. The company offers some useful services that can improve a business's internal processes as well.

These are some of the most important call center services SAS offers:

  • Customer service: SAS agents can act as an outsourced customer support department, providing a higher level of service beyond just answering the phones. With information you provide, agents can answer your customers' questions, explain your product and service offerings, and field complaints and feedback.

  • Call forwarding: If an agent is unable to assist a customer from the information you've provided, they will forward calls directly to a staff member at your company who can better address customer concerns.

  • Help desk: SAS offers an IT help desk and technical support hotline. These services include specialized training and integration with ticket systems to assist your customers.

  • Sales: This service can assist your business with inbound sales calls using a script (and FAQs) that you provide.

  • Dealer locate: Callers can be directed to suitable vendors in their area for the products and services they need to better run their businesses. (Dealer-locate services are built into the inbound call center program.)

  • Third-party verification: Third-party verification helps reduce identity theft and fraud. SAS agents can walk consumers through a verification process that ensures security for your business and customers.

  • Market research: SAS will assign an outbound telemarketing team to conduct market research through polls and surveys to give you more insight into the needs and wants of your customer base.

To see all of our call center service recommendations, visit our best picks page.

Answering Service Features

SAS provides everything we looked for in an answering service, including around-the-clock live operator phone answering and advanced functions like appointment scheduling. Bilingual support is also available.

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

  • Live answering: SAS operators will answer your business's phone calls 24/7/365 during regular business hours, after hours, or if you need assistance with overflow calls. Agents use a script you provide, which you can customize at any time.

  • Message taking: Agents can take down callers' names, contact information, and reasons for calling and then forward the message to your business by phone, text or email.

  • Order taking: Agents are trained in assisting customers with e-commerce purchases and facilitating orders. They enter and confirm payment information and can upsell and cross-sell products to your business's consumers.

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

  • Appointment scheduling: If your business needs help scheduling appointments, SAS agents can set them in a shared calendar and notify you each time a new appointment is scheduled. You can view all appointments can be viewed in real time on the shared calendar.

  • Bilingual support: SAS agents support English- and Spanish-speaking customers.

You can create a custom script that SAS agents use when speaking with your customers. This script can be submitted through the client portal, which is available on any web browser and through the SAS mobile app. The SAS customer service department will help you write the script if you like, and if you need to change the script at any time, the service will work with you to develop an updated script. You can add or remove services through the client portal as well, and all changes display in real time for SAS agents.

The client portal is also where you can find several reports, allowing you to drill down into your usage and glean important insights about callers. As a client of SAS, you can get detailed reports on data like call volume by geography, which can provide valuable insights into your business. General overviews can be emailed to you at the end of each day. Reports are updated on a call-by-call basis in real time, so you always have access to the most recent data.

Limitations

We found few drawbacks with SAS, save for the high cost of its low-volume plans. While the company offers several flexible plans suitable for low-volume businesses, including a pay-as-you-go plan, the plans all cost roughly $1 per minute or more. It's not until the 2,500-minute plan that its per-minute usage rate becomes more competitive with other call centers and answering services we evaluated.

Customer Service

The customer service from SAS was among the best we experienced in our review process. We spent a lot of time on the phone with its representatives, who gave us a thorough explanation of the company's services, pricing plans and the onboarding process. They provided several scenarios where a company might benefit from certain services SAS offers, such as third-party verification or dealer-locate services.

We expressed early in our calls to customer service representatives that we were not ready to make a buying decision. They remained fully engaged and attentive. We never felt pressured to make a purchasing decision or that representatives were disinterested in the questions we had about the company.

Editor's Note: Is your business looking for a call center service? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 

Specialty Answering Service

Specialty Answering Service

The Best Call Center Services for 2020

The Verdict

Specialty Answering Service is the best overall answering service because of its highly flexible pricing plans and exceptional service. It offers inbound and outbound call center services, making it a scalable offering suitable for growing businesses.

Adam Uzialko
Adam Uzialko
Adam C. Uzialko, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University in 2014 with a degree in political science and journalism and media studies. He reviews healthcare information technology, call centers, document management software and employee monitoring software. In addition to his full-time position at Business News Daily and business.com, Adam freelances for several outlets. An indispensable ally of the feline race, Adam is owned by four lovely cats.