What Is An Answering Service?

An answering service can provide your business a means of ensuring all your calls are answered so you can provide the best customer service. Learn more here.

What Is An Answering Service?

An answering service is a selection of well trained customer service professionals who answer telephone calls from clients and customers, handle detailed messages and provide these messages directly to a client or appropriate employee. These professionals are well-versed in speaking to people from a wide variety of industries.

Depending on what kind of solution a business partner may choose, using an answering service can be so much more than paying someone else to pick up the phone. While traditionally, answering services dealt with inbound and outbound phone calls, these days answering services also handle emails, replying to text messages, and cold calling, which are all services many clients find useful.

Answering A Few Questions About Answering Services

Below are a few topics that business partners and consumers have often wondered about, if not asked directly themselves. Given some insight into these subjects is a hope to educate and provide some helpful knowledge and education on these subjects to better aid in their understanding.

What types of answering services exist?

There are four major types of answering services in use today, often making up the whole of the available tools capable of providing a business with the assets needed. Firstly, live answering services are by far the most popular and common, providing a live human component to a business service. Offering a personal touch, an human response whenever a customer or business partner calls, can ease the minds of many and relieve the stress and annoyance of robotic automated menus that might otherwise add confusion and failure to understand those harder to process requests.

Secondly, internet answering services are typical of e-commerce or web based businesses. These answering services would also include features such as accessing your messages online, live web chat services, answering web inquiries, and order processing. It can function as a little more hands-off approach and a little more automated while still maintaining some human assistance.

Thirdly, the automated answering services are just what they sound like. They are a fully automated, oftentimes computerized menu system where one calls in and there is a touch tone menu of options to navigate and solve what issues may arise or navigate through. It is the sort of system for 24/7 companies where the live support is not necessarily needed, but can still be redirected too, if required. Generally larger companies use these as support lines or glorified answering services or to record large volumes of help calls or messages that one person cannot document or write by hand alone and a separate worker listens to, then responds to each call at a later date as sorted by the system through it’s required level of urgent needs.

Finally, call center services provide high volume management needs for companies that are largely phone based or require a multitude of the above services together. Call center services are also really good for companies who tend to spend a long time on the phone, where the time is spent qualifying a lead, or taking an order, or helping a customer. In these cases, you need many people working the phones so customers aren’t waiting a long time to speak to someone, which is why call center services are the best answering service for these particular instances.

Interactive Voice Response Systems

The interactive voice response systems or, IVR, as the acronym is suggested, is defined by wikipedia as thus: a technology that allows humans to interact with a computer-operated phone system through the use of voice and DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency)  tones input via a keypad. In layman's terms, it is the system which allows one to talk to, and dial a key tone on a touch pad of a phone to communicate to the system that one would like to pick an option or desire a function in an automated system. If a person has ever called an automated number or a 1-800 hotline and reached a pre-recorded line, then were instructed to speak or press a number, they are familiar with how this IVR system works.


This has been able to instantly provide callers with basic information, help those with certain disabilities to overcome communication challenges, and also weed out some of the more common complaints and questions to redirect through to the more complex needs of the consumer to a proper channel.


IVR has historically received criticism for its difficulty of use and a lack of appreciation of the caller's needs as well as objections to providing a voice response to an automated system.

Call Centers

A call center is a centralized department where phone calls from current and potential customers are managed. Call centers can handle incoming and outgoing calls, and be located either within a company or outsourced to another business that specializes in handling calls.


Customers have high expectations for customer service provided by businesses. They don’t only want their problems addressed, they want them handled timely and efficiently. When a time-sensitive problem comes up, customers often will go to their telephone first.


One of the biggest challenges faced by all call centers is increasingly high turnover rates. It could be due to a lack of training or experience, or even the many students applying for an entry-level job, however other things to consider are long hours and stress as well as the posture and strain for sitting over long periods of time. Handling upset clients isn’t for everyone and having the best people in place can also be a factor.

Virtual Receptionists

A virtual receptionist is an extension of a business and takes the place of a more traditional receptionist. They perform many of the same tasks as traditional receptionists, yet provide more services as well. These skills continue to increase in popularity because of their ability to handle a higher call volume than any traditional in-house solution and costs substantially less.


In-house receptionists are expensive. Virtual receptionists are affordable, always available, and trained to consistently deliver a business’s message exactly how they want it.


If they are scripted they can provide limited knowledge for the customer. There is a risk of lack of flexibility to it all. Some remote virtual assistants tend to operate mainly on a set of scripted answers. Moreover, they may lack intricate knowledge of a business, when scripted, if they need to address certain issues and topics. 

How Do Answering Services Work?

So, how does it all really work? The process is a lot more simple than most realize. It all comes down to call forwarding. Most telephones that businesses and industries have or a simple land line are capable of this feature, and some telephone companies can add it to a service if one is not available. Through the use of call forwarding, one can receive a call to their number, have it routed to a new directory and received by the answering service and managed promptly by trained professionals and handled with care. Setting this up is organized by the business owners and their answering services providers. However, it is fairly similar to switchboard operators of old, only with much faster and modern technologies and capable of so much more responsibilities and skills.

What kind of companies use answering services?

Most every modern business in effect today uses this technology and it aids them in handling and organizing their system of incoming and outgoing calls as well as deciding which calls are urgent or which are consumer versus employee or other needed company contacts. Having a quickly screened process to eliminate spamming calls from telemarketers or wasteful phone calls that would otherwise gum up the business lines, allows for a smoother, and more profitable flow of the business day.

Are they expensive?

Pricing can be very competitive, but most are subject to how much a business needs or uses this service. In short, if a business only makes or receives a couple calls a day, through one business week, it will be far less costly than a business running into many more calls and using a more demanding service volume.

Potential problems?

Some potential problems tend to be found in certain answering services over others, for instance, the automated services can have faulty programming and take time to catch. If the answering system goes down, there will be no one to notify a business of the problem. Also if a caller isn’t clear in what they desire, they may be routed to the wrong member or department, resulting in frustration for all parties involved. These are just a few examples in just one of the fields, where this could be possible and is often overlooked.

How do you access messages from a telephone answering service?

Ok, so given a hypothetical situation, a business is only interested in emergency calls to be directed through to their main line, the rest are sent in text, email or other means of technology as today’s advancements allow as messages. The takeaway is with today's technology, there are many ways to access messages and reports a company needs, and if they are very important, an answering service will have them sent back to that company. 

What are the hours of an answering service?

Any reputable company uses 24/7as a standard hour of operations, but that all depends on company needs, and company requirements these days. As explained by AnswerNet services, “They don’t need a lock on their door as it is never closed”, one such answering service, who was quoted as saying.

How Can Answering Services Save Your Company Money?

One, it’s hard to separate the term saving money, and making money where every client could represent as an example, one hundred dollars. Now if they help a client through the aid of the assistance of the services, then it’s a smoother flow of revenue. Secondly, there are many tools of languages and applications in an answering service that many in house employees cannot use or organize themselves and by utilizing these, the efficiency level rises exponentially.

How Do I Know If I Need An Answering Service Company?

In the end it all comes down to one word, volume, and also a second word, demand. If a business partner has too much volume and there is demand for it to be handled, is it cost efficient? Perhaps, however, one should first look into it as well as all the options it includes.

In summary business owners and professionals both know that customers have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing where they get their products and services. Many businesses don't have time to administer the daily workflow or the need to pay and manage additional full-time employees. If a business can have a whole team of people doing this for a small portion of what someone might pay a single person in house to do that same job, why wouldn’t a business jump on that opportunity? Ultimately, a business owner is still the best person to reach for anything, as they own the business, however, when it comes to maintaining the little things and keeping things running smoothly, let’s just face facts, a company needs to be managed and branched out into a well oiled working machine that can operate and function at a reasonable and efficient capacity. At Admin Solutions Group we provide high quality phone answering services for your business. Overwhelming a business is never a good thing, and will always lead to profit loss, or customers losing interest, or both. 

In the end, knowledge and well organized systems with today’s current up-to-date systems and technologies are helping to restructure the balance and working capacity of the economic marketplace and growth holds potential.

“At Admin Solutions, we help to focus on removing those struggles so a business partner can focus on the business, instead of the stress."

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