Businesses that have global customers and/or customers who frequently call after hours can benefit from an answering service, which gives customers a person to talk to, even when your business is closed. Specialized answering services can even answer basic questions and give customers technical advice and support.

The main types of answering services are:

  • Computer automated
  • Live virtual receptionist
  • Specialized
  • Call center

Top 10 Most Reviewed Answering Services

Answer 1 provides a range of virtual receptionist services like call screening, appointment scheduling and order processing. We specialize in assisting clients in IT, legal, healthcare and service industries.
Abby Connect provides virtual receptionists to businesses and professionals from our headquarters in Summerlin, NV. Our friendly receptionists accept, screen and transfer incoming calls with customized greetings to save you time.
Davinci Virtual Office Solutions uses live receptionists to answer and forward client calls. Clients can also take advantage of mail forwarding services and hold meetings at over 4,000 spaces all over the world.
Call Ruby uses live professionals who provide virtual receptionist services so clients can make strong first impressions and work away from their desks without missing important calls. Call Ruby offers a 21-day, risk-free trial.
AnswerNet provides virtual call center services for companies that work numerous industries, including commercial vehicle, financial, real estate, pharmaceuticals and insurance. AnswerNet has 28 locations in North America.
AnswerConnect provides 24/7 live answering services so client companies never have to seem closed to their customers. The HIPAA-trained staff can notify clients via SMS or take messages during clients' busiest hours.

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What features matter most?

Hours of operation

Answering services can take calls when the business is closed or during operating hours, but not all services offer the same time coverage.

  • 24/7: These answering services take calls all day without interruption.
  • Business hours: Calls are answered during typical business hours, generally between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Global time zones: Answering services with a global presence can accommodate every time zone.


Answering services need to quickly answer the phone and address inquiries.

  • Answer time: The answering service should pick up calls as quickly as possible.
  • Average call handling time: A lower average call handling time indicates an answering service capable of quickly answering questions.

Expert knowledge

Businesses get an answering service with expert staff.

  • Terminology: Industry-specific answering services know the specialized terminology used by the business.
  • Specialized skill sets: These receptionists provide basic support and answers through their specialized skill sets.
  • Subject matter experts: These answering service employees have credentials or extensive personal experience in specific subject matter.


Answering services using high-quality and innovative technology provide more features and better service.

  • Call routing: The virtual receptionist routes the call to the most appropriate contact number instead of sending it to a general office number.
  • Voicemail transcription: Voice-to-text transcription sends a written email or text when a voicemail comes into the office phone line.
  • Emergency notification: The answering service operator sends a high priority call directly through the phone line or provides emergency notification to the company.

Call quality

Good call quality provides a better customer and client experience.

  • Voice quality: The answering service needs business-grade phone equipment and quality-enhancing technology.
  • Speech clarity: Virtual receptionists should be well-spoken and capable of clearly communicating on the phone.


Answering service prices vary widely depending on the size of the company, the call volume it handles and the contracts in place.

  • Monthly fee: Businesses pay a flat monthly fee for all answering services.
  • Price per call: Companies pay for every received call.

What are different types of answering services?


This answering service uses a computerized call system.


Virtual receptionists take calls, provide help for callers and route messages to the appropriate personnel.


Industry-specific answering services offer advanced technical and subject matter help for callers.

Call center

Businesses with high call volume may need a partially or fully dedicated call center.

Who's it for?

Businesses with high call volume

Companies getting too many calls to handle in-house benefit from the additional answering help.

Small businesses

Smaller businesses need to focus on their core competencies instead of splitting their attention on the phones.

Medical practices

Medical staff can concentrate on patient care while virtual receptionists handle patient calls.


Answering services handle job inquiries, provide basic information and set appointments for the contractor.

Company reviews

  • AnswerAmerica

    Answer America is a pay-as-you-go answering service with multiple locations across the United States. This answering service gives businesses live agents capable of capturing customer information and forwarding messages for companies lacking the resources to handle their own calls.

    • Pay as you go: Businesses pay for the calls they receive without any monthly fees or set-up costs.
    • 24/7/365 coverage: Answer America provides full call coverage at any time and day of the year.
    • Online portal: Businesses receive messages through email, text or a convenient online portal.
    • Live operators: Answer America has a fully staffed live operator service for taking messages.
    • 50 US locations: US based companies can choose the location closest to their geographic area for a close match on local accents and colloquial speech.
    • Best for Companies get a cost-effective answering service for low call volumes.

  • Specialty Answering Service

    Specialty Answering Service started in 1985 in Philadelphia, PA as a startup service. The virtual receptionists receive extensive training with many quality control measures in place so businesses know their calls get handled with professionalism.

    • Focused on small businesses: Specialty Answering Service focuses on the unique needs of small business clients.
    • Call volume-based pricing: Businesses pay based on the calls they receive so they only pay for the services they use.
    • Focused client areas: Virtual receptionists serve a limited number of clients so they can learn each company's specialized needs.
    • Three rings or fewer answering speed: Virtual receptionists answer the phone in three rings or fewer.
    • Fully custom: Specialty Answering Service provides fully customized plans for small business phone needs.
    • Best for Small businesses wanting to leverage a pay-as-you-go answering service to balance costs and service.

  • Advantage Answering Plus

    Advantage Answering Plus got its start in a small room in 1992. Today, the company helps businesses handle their inbound callers with a professional touch and quick message delivery.

    • Prompt message delivery: Virtual receptionists send the messages to the businesses quickly.
    • Live operators: This answering service focuses on live operators to handle incoming call volume.
    • Custom call handling: Advantage Answering Plus provides custom call handling services for businesses.
    • Daytime virtual reception: Small businesses, freelancers, entrepreneurs and other businesses seeking daytime call handling can use this service while they focus on work.
    • Highly trained team: Advantage Answering Plus provides an experienced team for call handling.
    • Best for Companies benefit from a flexible answering service with quick message delivery.

  • A Better Answer Call Centers

    A Better Answer is a 100 percent female-owned and operated answering service operating for 30 years. They handle legal, medical and general business answering needs with live operators and features such as customized message delivery.

    • Anytime forwarding: Companies adjust their call forwarding anytime they want with A Better Answer.
    • Priority caller list: Live operators get a list of numbers to automatically forward when calls come through.
    • Customizable message delivery: Businesses receive messages at a customized interval.
    • Legal and medical teams: A Better Answer offers virtual protectionist teams specializing in legal and medical requirements.
    • Customer service management: The answering service company can head up an entire virtualized customer service department for a company.
    • Best for Businesses with specialized needs can get custom services tailored to their exact requirements, such as medical teams needing urgent call forwarding.

  • TeleMed

    TeleMed provides answering services exclusively for the healthcare industry since 1986. They work with over 45,000 medical providers and handle their answering needs through live operators and secure messaging features.

    • HIPAA compliant: TeleMed's answering services and technology comply with HIPAA requirements.
    • Backups: Medical offices receive a backup of all messages.
    • Works with existing EMR: TeleMed's services work with a medical practice's existing patient software.
    • Appointment scheduling: Virtual receptionists schedule patient appointments for healthcare facilities.
    • Emergency messaging: Urgent calls and other emergency notifications go through the system and to the right people.
    • Best for Medical providers get a HIPAA-compliant answering service that helps them focus on their patients, instead of spending all their time and resources answering phones.

  • Alphapage

    Alphapage works with companies looking for medical call and call center services. They offer a wide range of inbound answering service features, such as call screening and dispatching, with a web-based platform that's easy to use.

    • Top-of-the-line equipment: Alphapage uses the latest technology to power its infrastructure.
    • Live and automated options: Businesses have a choice between live operators or automated answering solutions.
    • Dispatch services: Companies requiring dispatching can outsource this service to Alphapage.
    • eResponse: Alphapage's answering services also cover a company's email address.
    • Greeting box: A recording with basic business information screens customers who don't need to talk to a live person.
    • Best for Large companies get a tech-forward answering service with dispatch and medical paging services, email answering support and quick screening features.

  • AnswerFirst

    AnswerFirst provides answering services with a socially and environmentally responsible approach. Their inbound calling features recorded calls available online, quick messaging and email answering support.

    • No contracts: Answer First provides pay as you go answering services.
    • Call forwarding: Virtual receptionists forward calls to the client on the closest phone.
    • Multiple message delivery options: Companies can access messages via four channels.
    • Reservations: Professional receptionists take down reservations and handle the schedule for a company.
    • Email handling: Many companies also need help with email answering, which this service provides.
    • Best for Small to mid-size businesses benefit from a no-contract answering service with email support.

  • PATLive

    PATLive, founded 25 years ago, is a North American answering service with 24/7 coverage. They feature live operators experienced in taking messages from callers, appointment scheduling so businesses can focus on their work and many answering coverage options.

    • Data entry: Receptionists enter information into a lead-generation database.
    • Event registration: Businesses can outsource event registration processes.
    • Messaging: The receptionist creates a brief call log.
    • After hours/lunch coverage: This service covers lunch and after hours.
    • Overflow: Businesses dealing with unusually high call volume get help before customers get frustrated.
    • Best for Companies get a variety of answering services that cover call volume the businesses cannot handle, efficient call logging and even complementary services such as data entry.

  • Cloud Virtual Office

    Cloud VO, founded in 2004, provides Workplace-as-a-Service, which gives mobile workers, freelancers and smaller businesses access to a professional answering service, office space rentals and other professional services as needed. These services help smaller businesses handle their calls without distracting small teams from their work at hand.

    • Designed for freelancers and virtual businesses: Smaller businesses can outsource their call needs and focus on growth.
    • Auto Attendant: The automated phone system helps route the call to the right person without involving a live operator.
    • Live receptionist: Small business customers receive a professional greeting and are directed to the right information or person.
    • Call patching: Seamless transfers make the customer think the answering service is in house.
    • Outbound calling: Outbound calls let businesses focus on core duties while the answering service handles this work.
    • Best for Small and virtual businesses get a cloud-based answering service solution.

  • Contact Communications

    Contact Communications focuses on U.S.-based contact centers over the past 20 years. This answering service lets businesses greet all callers with a live person who can follow the company's custom script.

    • A la carte pricing: Businesses pick and choose which answering service options they want.
    • Quick set up: Contact Communications gets businesses up and running within 24 hours.
    • Live operators: Live receptionists give a professional feel to the answered calls.
    • Customizable: Companies have significant flexibility with this answering service.
    • HIPAA compliant: Contact Communications offers answering services meeting regulatory requirements for medical professionals.
    • Best for Companies of any size get more time to focus on their core business needs, while Contact Communications provides flexible services with live operators.

  • Sunshine Communication Services

    Sunshine Communication Services, based in Florida and founded in 1975, offers answering services available on a 24/7 basis. They help businesses handle inbound calling with professional receptionists, trained customer service agents and data entry services.

    • Industry specialization: Sunshine Communication Services offers answering services for legal, medical and property management companies.
    • Bilingual: English- and Spanish-speaking receptionists help more customers.
    • HIPAA compliant: The medical answering service solutions are fully HIPAA compliant.
    • Personalized IVR: An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is loaded with a personalized response flow.
    • Telephone traffic reports: Companies review reports to look at call volume and other metrics.
    • Best for Companies get an answering service with receptionists experienced with industry-specific needs, such as medical practices.

11 – 18 Most Reviewed Answering Services