Voicemail or Answering Service?

Every business owner wants to make their business sound extremely professional from the first contact on� A receptionist will probably be the first choice of most business owners, however, many small businesses simply cannot afford the costly addition of a new hire.

If a business owner must have a professional phone solution, there are three options he/she can choose to employ.

Voicemail

The least expensive option, voicemail for businesses starts at $4 a month and offers real value for the startup small business. Some features you can expect, for additional fees, at some voicemail providers:

– call forwarding

– voicemail forwarding to email

– fax to email

– call screening

– multiple mailboxes (one for sales, one for accounting, etc.)

– remote access

– web control panel

Answering Service

However, some companies must have a live operator answering their phone. This is much more expensive, but still more affordable than a receptionist. Some answering service plans are as inexpensive as $30 per month, but beware. Voice answering services usually offer only a small amount, if any, of the live answers in the lowest plan.

In other words, there is usually a $1 charge for each additional call above what the original plan includes. Of course, if you buy the $30 (approximately) plans many of these services offer, you will end up with only 5, if any, operator assisted calls within the month. So, let’s say you end up with 10 calls a day, or 50 calls per week. Now, that’s not an unreasonable amount of calls.

You’d be left with a call charge at the end of the month for $600, just in overages. Because of this potential charge, you may want to choose a larger plan that gives you more calls per month.

Many people choose the lowest plan with the idea of upgrading, but it really makes more sense to choose a more expensive plan and downgrade once you see just how much you will be using the service.

Building a virtual office is a great way to professionalize your business, but be sure to pay close attention to your calls as the month proceeds to avoid the costly overages that you may incur if you did not estimate your call usage correctly.

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