What Is an Answering Service?

Happy, smiling, blonde female answering service agent with a headset on.

As a leading phone answering services company, AnswerMTI aims to educate clients on the benefits of our services. Answering the phones is an important duty. However, it can take a lot of time away from other business-related tasks. Plus, customers, clients, vendors, associates, patients, and others may need to reach you after hours or on weekends. A phone answering service allows your business to serve them any time, day or night.

Telephone Answering Services Defined

A phone answering service is one that handles calls on your behalf. Any calls not answered by your office are received at an off-site call center by a trained agent. However, what a provider can offer goes beyond simply picking up the phone when someone calls. A customized call answering service can provide customer support, take messages, and create a more personal connection than an automated message.

Handling incoming phone calls can be demanding for a small business—or any business, for that matter. You can receive calls at any time, even off-hours, and all are important opportunities to provide great service or grow your business. When the phone rings, you need someone there to answer the call. This is what a phone answering service is for.

An answering service enables your business to outsource telephone answering. Various levels of service are offered. It may involve simply answering the phones and taking messages, or remote receptionists may serve as customer service agents or virtual receptionists. Generally, people can reach your business 24/7. An agent is available whenever someone has a question, requires customer support, or has an urgent situation on their hands.

Benefits to Companies

What is an answering service if not a solution that improves business operations? A custom, flexible plan can enhance customer service, brand loyalty, and your company’s reputation. It also leaves time for tasks associated with running your business. Callers always get the help they need from someone with industry knowledge. Live answering is also more affordable than investing in the staff and infrastructure yourself.

Common Reasons for Choosing Answering Services

Businesses often use phone answering services for things such as:

  • Virtual Receptionist: A live receptionist can answer questions, take messages, qualify leads, assist with scheduling, and provide customer service.
  • Bilingual Answering: If your business serves a Spanish-speaking audience or region, trained experts can ensure there are no communication barriers with your customers.
  • Emergency Answering: Responsiveness during urgent situations makes your business stand out. Thanks to built-in redundancies and backups, our agents continue answering the phones in an emergency event or unanticipated crisis.
  • Appointment Scheduling: Utilizing a shared web-based calendar, receptionists can schedule appointments for clients. This is a great way to keep your appointment books full while getting to focus on your work without distraction.
  • After-Hours Answering: Just because a business shuts its doors in the evening, it doesn’t mean the phone stops ringing. After-hours answering services allow companies to continue providing great customer support and even capture additional leads after they’ve gone home for the night.
  • Call Overflow: Sometimes more calls come in than an in-house staff can handle at one time. A call overflow answering service acts as a backup. Calls roll over to remote receptionists to handle when a business is busy and can’t answer.

What Types of Answering Services Exist?

Male answering service representative wearing a white shirt and blue tie with black headset on.

There are three main types of answering service to choose from: interactive voice response systems, call centers, and virtual receptionists.

Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVR)

An interactive voice response system or automated answering service is characterized by the automatic answering of calls and several menu options. This system offers self-service to callers, transferring them to appropriate departments when certain menu options are selected.


Automated solutions like IVR systems offer businesses easy scalability, allowing them to add or subtract menu options as needed, and with little effort.


Most interactive voice response systems are incapable of understanding human tone and context. They also cannot respond to anything that falls outside of the responses with which they’ve been programmed.

Another common challenge of interactive voice response systems is their inability to handle end-to-end interaction with customers efficiently. For example, an IVR may continuously fail to understand a customer’s verbal request or complete actions for a customer that the customer could have completed themselves.

Call Centers

Call centers are a traditional type of answering service. They employ real people who work in large buildings for companies selling items and services or who offer technical support for their products via phone.


One advantage that call centers have is their size; because a single call center can contain hundreds of employees, large volumes of calls can be handled quickly and simultaneously.

Another advantage of the call center is that every call is answered by a live person and not an automated voice or system.


Call center agents represent a business, but calling them won’t put you in touch with an employee from that business.

Although a call center agent is human, they process calls according to a script they must follow. As well, because many call centers exist for sales and marketing purposes, their main specialty is making calls and not answering calls, which are two very different services.

In addition, because the number of employees at a call center is so high, the training they receive is often less intensive than that of virtual receptionists who exist in smaller and more specialized groups.

Virtual Receptionists

Virtual receptionists, like call centers, offer callers a way to speak with a human when connecting with a business. However, these individuals do not work at a business’s physical office; rather, they represent a business, but from another virtual location.


A significant advantage of virtual receptionists is that there is no way to tell that they aren’t speaking from the physical office of a business.

Just like a traditional answering service or receptionist, virtual receptionists are experts at answering questions, recording information, transferring and answering phone calls, and more.

Virtual receptionists like the professionals at AnswerMTI specialize in providing even the smallest of small businesses with the kind of answering service one would find at a large corporation.

However, they are anything but impersonal; virtual receptionists offer each and every caller the benefit of a live and meaningful connection that goes well beyond saying “hello.”


AnswerMTI offers live receptionist services that are completely customizable and scalable. In fact, there are so many options that it can be a little overwhelming at first to decide what you need them to be able to do and say, and figuring out how it will all fit together.

When you choose to work with the AnswerMTI team, you’re choosing a nationwide leader in virtual receptionist services. We put our experience to work for you, creating a professional script completely customized for your business.

Our virtual receptionists have been trained to provide exactly what you need. So, if you’re a medical office that needs emergency answering services, the ability to also schedule patient appointments and send a text message for urgent assistance, AnswerMTI receptionists can do that.

How Do Answering Services Work?

A telephone answering service is typically a subscription-based service that you pay for each month. Once you sign up for a plan, the service can be tailored to your requirements. Often, an agent familiar with your industry can assist callers with any matter they may have pertaining to your business. They greet callers using your company name and follow a script unique to your organization.

At AnswerMTI, we partner each client with an account specialist who works to understand your brand, goals, and the challenges you face. Learning what you want to accomplish with our services, our representative can create a call script that ensures proper communication with your callers. In fact, we’ll even build a profile of your typical customers and their needs, so our agents will be able to take care of your callers just like you would.

What Kinds of Companies Use Answering Services?

AnswerMTI provides answering services and call center solutions for businesses of all sizes across industries: entrepreneurs, doctors, plumbers, attorneys, real estate agencies, hotel operators, HVAC companies, government institutions, and more.

What Are the Business Benefits of Working with Answering Services?

Landline telephone with headset at office.

  • Always Take Calls: There’s always a friendly voice to answer the phone, so a customer knows you are available to address their needs. Whenever a sales call is received, you won’t have to miss out on any opportunities. Anything you invest in marketing and other business purposes is money well spent.
  • Cost Savings: The monthly fee you pay for the service is much less than hiring a receptionist and paying a salary. A phone answering service also avoids having to pay for space, equipment, and maintenance, which can all save money for a business owner.
  • Screen Calls: Instead of taking calls all day, your team can focus on growing your business. Our agents will forward the most important calls to you, answering any common questions a customer has; this reduces the number of distractions and increases productivity.
  • Customer Service: Callers receive personalized support any time. Based on a script you provide, our receptionists can use a greeting and persona that sounds like your company. They can take basic inquiries based on the information you give about your products and services.
  • Access Your Messages Anywhere: Get your messages by logging into our system. Everyone in your company can be informed, whether they receive messages within the platform or by text or email.
  • Illusion of Size: A small business startup or entrepreneur can use the same services as a large corporation. Therefore, you can compete with the best by providing outstanding customer service at any time, with a script that represents your personality and brand.

Other Phone Answering Services that AnswerMTI Offers

Available to businesses in every state and city, our representatives are relied upon for services such as:

24-Hour Answering

Every customer receives prompt, attentive service, no matter when they call. Your business hours are essentially extended; customers will never be on hold or have to listen to a pre-recorded message. The benefits include improved satisfaction and potentially a boost in reputation.

Call Patching

Our virtual receptionists can keep callers on the line and patch the call through to the appropriate person or department in your company. They’ll ask questions and determine exactly who to transfer the call to.

Inbound Call Center

High call volumes can strain any business, especially if you’re lacking staff or resources. We can handle call overflow and provide a professional voice, while helping customers avoid long wait queues. You won’t miss a call or have to deal with frustrated customers.

Medical Answering

Your medical office may not be open 24/7, but our receptionists can help patients with health issues at any time. Our team can provide advice, instruct callers in a crisis, or relay their situation to available medical personnel. The AnswerMTI medical answering service is HIPAA-compliant.

Whistleblower Hotline

We provide a third-party whistleblower hotline that ensures callers’ confidentiality and employs our knowledge of best business practices. Our service includes accurate reporting of workplace incidents so they get to the appropriate agencies. This can also help discourage unethical behavior.

What to Look For When Hiring an Answering Service

Choosing the right answering service is an important consideration, but which one is the best choice for you? The right company will possess the following characteristics:


The more experienced an answering service company is, the higher the quality of service they’ll be able to offer your business, and the more options you’ll be able to take advantage of.


No matter which company you’re considering to handle your incoming calls, training will be everything. Any service you choose should send you individuals who have been professionally trained to answer questions specific to your service industry and type of business.


Imagine being able to create your own unique answering service by mixing and matching from individual options. This is exactly what the right company should offer.

Pricing that Makes Sense

Some companies may not mind adding hidden fees and other unwanted surprises to your bill, but these kinds of services will only cost you money in the long run. Find one who will charge you for what you use, and nothing more.

Answering Service Solutions Are Available with AnswerMTI

phone answering service professionals

We provide answering services and call center solutions for businesses of all sizes across industries: entrepreneurs, doctors, plumbers, attorneys, real estate agencies, hotel operators, HVAC companies, government institutions, and more. Our customized plans are designed to improve your communications and meet any telephone answering requirement you may have. To learn more, sign up for your free trial by calling 844-798-1027.