Search by keyword, such as: divert, calls, chats …

9 top tips for engaging a telephone answering service

Entrusting someone else with your calls is a big step. It makes sense to shop around first, do your research and ask around. Whatever your reason for outsourcing your calls, here are just a few things to consider when choosing a provider that’s right for you:

1. Do you get your own dedicated PA?

Ensure any provider you’re looking to work with is transparent about this; if calls are going to be handled by the ‘next available operator’, this is a call handling service, not telephone answering. Having a dedicated PA ensures one person is accountable to you, working as if they are a member of your team. The only difference is they’re based at the telephone answering service itself, rather than your own office.

2. Is there a set-up fee?

A low monthly subscription may seem attractive, but will you be forking out a hefty set-up fee upon sign up? Even if you’re not tied into a long-term contract, a set-up fee means you’ve effectively bought into the service and to recoup, you’re probably going to feel obliged to remain with them until you’ve seen any value. Any telephone answering service worth its salt won’t be inclined to charge for this because they’re confident the benefits will speak for themselves.

3. Are there charges to send messages by text or email?

Once again, these are other chargeable extras rarely showcased alongside any headline fee, and you should definitely have these confirmed if you’re being offered a monthly subscription that, at first glance, appears significantly lower than other providers.

4. Are you charged to make admin changes?

Some providers go as far as charging for simple updates, such as adding new employees to your company information. Charges such as these are rarely discovered until you are days, sometimes even weeks, into your service. Be sure to ask at the outset whether these will apply for you.

5. Are you charged to have out-of-hours voicemail?

Can you see a theme developing here? A low monthly subscription fee doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily receive an inexpensive service; variable charges can rack up quickly, so crunching your numbers is absolutely key in order to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of your first month of service.

6. Are you tied into a long-term contract?

There’s absolutely no reason for you to be tied into a long-term contract, similar to a 12 or 24-month mobile phone plan. You should want to stay with a service and have the freedom to terminate whenever you like, not be locked into a service where you find yourself counting down the months before you can cancel. Be sure to check this caveat before you sign up with any provider.

7. What kind of calls are you charged for?

When your business phone number is forwarded to a telephone answering service, all calls will be managed. Some providers offer a percentage or allotted number of cold calls that you don’t have to pay for, and some even provide a bypass facility to divert selected numbers straight to voicemail, or the ability to receive calls completely free of charge via an app. It’s definitely worth thinking about the ways you can protect your ROI – after all, you don’t want to end up paying for messages from your mum!

Start by making sure friends and family know to contact you on your mobile or another personal number. To prevent unwanted canvassing calls making their way to your answering service, you can register free with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS). The CTPS is the official “opt-out register” for companies who don’t want to be contacted by cold callers. Once you’re registered, it’s a legal requirement for all organisations to cease calls to your number unless they have consent.

8. Can you access your call log online or via an app?

Tech plays an important role in the provision offered by many telephone answering services. Why is it so important? Because increasingly it forms a highly effective bridge of communication between client and PA –  making outsourced support even better than the efforts of an in-house receptionist.

Many of the bigger providers offer online platforms and apps, which allow you to communicate with the person who’s looking after your calls in real-time. This way, there’s no need to waste time sending emails or phoning your office to update your receptionist on your whereabouts. Simply change your status using cloud technology and the system updates instantly to reflect your movements and preferences: ‘In the car – email me’. You can also indicate who are VIP callers and block salespeople. As always, be sure to check you’ll incur no additional charge for activating these helpful extras.

And it doesn’t stop there – some telephone answering apps allow clients to fully take control of their service by enabling them to make outbound calls from their business number on their mobile, have voicemails transcribed into messages, record calls and even update their PA through GPS by setting their availability to change automatically according to their location.

9. Are they affiliated to any sector organisations?

Many of the more credible telephone answering providers are endorsed by national organisations and bodies, so it’s well worth an ask if you’re in a particular industry or a member of a specific organisation as you may well be eligible for exclusive rates.

The #1 telephone answering service

Moneypenny provides a world-leading Telephone Answering Service. You will have your own dedicated Moneypenny PA – someone you know and trust working exactly as if based in your office. When someone calls your business, if you’re unavailable or simply don’t want to answer, the call will pass seamlessly to us. Our Moneypenny app holds a suite of super-clever tech to help you work seamlessly with your PA and get the most out of your service – and it’s completely free and exclusive to you as a client.

Take advantage of our FREE one-week trial. There’s no set-up costs, no admin charges, and no ongoing commitment. Call us now on 0333 202 1005.

We give you amazing people and technology:


Your own Moneypenny PA to answer calls exactly as if based in your office.

Discover >
Live Chat

Amazing people, briefed by you to manage chats whenever you can't.

Discover >
Pocket Phone System

All the functions and support of an office phone system, minus the hardware.

Discover >