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Answering Service vs Voicemail: Which One Is Better for Your Business?



If you run a business, you know how important it is to answer your phone calls promptly and professionally. Phone calls are often the first point of contact between you and your potential or existing customers, and they can make or break your reputation and sales. 


However, answering every phone call yourself can be challenging, especially if you have a high volume of calls, multiple lines, or limited staff. Many businesses use an answering service or voicemail to handle incoming calls. 


But what are the differences between these two options, and which is better for your business? We will compare answering service and voicemail regarding their features, benefits, drawbacks, and costs. We will also explain the value of answering service and why it is a superior choice for most businesses.

What Is An Answering Service?

An answering service is a service that provides live operators to answer your phone calls on your behalf. An answering service can:


  • Answer your calls 24/7, even on weekends and holidays.
  • Greet your callers with a customized script that reflects your brand and tone.
  • Take messages, schedule appointments, process orders, or provide information according to your instructions.
  • Transfer urgent or important calls to you or your staff as needed.
  • Send you the call details via email, text, or fax.

What Is Voicemail?

Voicemail is a feature that allows your callers to leave recorded messages when you cannot answer the phone. Voicemail can:


  • Record your callers’ messages when your line is busy, unanswered, or disconnected.
  • Play a pre-recorded greeting that informs your callers that you are unavailable and invites them to leave a message.
  • Store your messages in a mailbox that you can access by phone or online.
  • Notify you of new messages by phone, email, or text.


Benefits Of An Answering Service

An answering service offers numerous advantages for your business, including:

Enhanced customer satisfaction

Answering services improve customer satisfaction by providing a personal touch and tailored experiences. Customers prefer interacting with a live person over a machine, valuing respectful and courteous treatment. Additionally, answering services reduce customer frustration by avoiding extended wait times, busy signals, or dropped calls.

Increased sales and lead generation

An answering service can boost sales and lead generation by ensuring every opportunity is captured, and every caller is effectively engaged. These services address queries, furnish information, handle objections, and persuade callers to take desired actions. Moreover, answering services excel at upselling or cross-selling your products or services based on callers’ needs and preferences.

Efficient time and resource management

Answering services save both time and money by liberating your resources. They adeptly manage routine and repetitive tasks that consume significant time, such as message taking, appointment scheduling, or order processing. Moreover, these services cut costs by eliminating the necessity of hiring, training, or managing additional staff or equipment.

Improved brand image and reputation

Utilizing an answering service is a strategic move to enhance your brand image and reputation. These services leave a positive and professional impression on your callers, highlighting your commitment to top-notch customer service. Consistency in quality, accuracy, and confidentiality fosters customer trust and loyalty, further contributing to an improved brand image.

Expanded market reach and accessibility

Answering services broaden your market reach and enhance accessibility by catering to a diverse global clientele. They operate around the clock, every day of the year, ensuring no call or opportunity goes unanswered. Furthermore, they provide multilingual support, accommodating customers of various languages and dialects.

Enhanced data collection and analysis

By collecting and analyzing caller information, answering services offer valuable data and insights for your business. Key metrics such as call volume, duration, origin, and outcome can be tracked. Additionally, they can solicit feedback from your customers, allowing you to measure their satisfaction and loyalty and identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement for your business.

Drawbacks of Voicemail

Voicemail presents several drawbacks for your business, including:

Loss of customers and revenue

Voicemail can lead to a loss of customers and revenue by creating a negative impression and missed opportunities. Customers may perceive voicemail as impersonal, unprofessional, or indifferent, potentially causing them to lose trust or interest in your business. Moreover, customers may hang up without leaving a message or opt to contact their competitors.

Reduced efficiency and productivity

Using voicemail can diminish efficiency and productivity by causing a backlog and delays. Accumulated voicemail messages require sorting through and responding to, creating time delays. This delay in response time can affect your customer service quality and overall efficiency.

Heightened stress and hassle

Voicemail can increase stress and hassle by adding to your burden and distractions. Managing numerous voicemail messages alongside other tasks can be overwhelming, diverting your attention from core activities and priorities — ultimately affecting your overall productivity.

Cost Comparison: Answering Service vs. Voicemail

The cost of answering services and voicemail varies depending on the service or feature type, quality, and provider. However, in general:

Answering service

An answering service tends to have a higher initial cost than voicemail but proves more cost-effective in the long run. It typically involves a monthly fee based on usage, either in minutes or calls. The average cost of an answering service ranges from $0.75 to $1.25 per minute or $50 to $250 per month. 


Despite the initial cost, an answering service can demonstrate its value by boosting sales and leads, enhancing customer retention and loyalty, and saving time and money.


On the other hand, voicemail has a lower upfront cost than an answering service but may accumulate higher expenses over time. It is often a free or inexpensive feature bundled with your phone service or system. The average voicemail cost usually ranges from $0 to $10 monthly. 


However, while voicemail is more affordable initially, it can cost your business more in the long run, resulting in customer and revenue loss, decreased efficiency and productivity, and increased stress and hassle.


Businesses commonly use answering services and voicemail to handle calls. However, when the two are compared, answering service emerges as the superior option for most businesses. It provides several advantages, including increased customer satisfaction, sales and leads, and overall time and money savings.


Conversely, voicemail can result in customer and revenue loss, decreased efficiency and productivity, and increased stress and inconvenience. Regarding cost-effectiveness, answering service is the better long-term choice, generating significant value for your business that outweighs the costs associated with voicemail.

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