In our business we are often asked by people considering using our Call Center “How much does it cost?” A friend once said he answers with “How long is a piece of string?” Unlike a loaf of bread, the cost of having someone answer your phones doesn’t have a fixed price. Usually there is a “base rate” which includes a number of minutes and then a charge for extra minutes used each month. There are many variables you need to consider.

The first is call volume and the reason you are considering the service. If you need your phone answered 24 hours a day because your most important client may call with a 3 am emergency, once or twice a month — you need a low base rate – but if you have 1000 patients who call with appointment changes you need a higher base rate that includes a substantial number of included minutes.

Next think about how you want us to deliver your message to you. Do you want each one simply emailed as soon as it arrives, or do you want us to follow up with your staff in 5 minutes to ensure it was received, with escalation procedures to follow if they are not available? Most services can do either one to accommodate your business model — but one costs more than the
other obviously.

Seasonality is another concern. If you provide snow plowing and landscaping services — you will get fewer calls in summer — so you may be better to have a lower base rate throughout the year and just pay some over usage charges in January. Some places may offer a “flat rate” — but keep in mind that an “all you can eat” restaurant may seem like a good deal — but if you
just have a plate of salad it becomes a very expensive plate. Flat pricing is usually set to ensure that the service gets substantially more than enough to cover the cost of providing service.

So when you ask a salesperson “what does it cost to have someone answer my phones” expect them to ask a few questions before giving you an estimate. If they just blurt out a price beware that you may not be getting the best deal for your particular business.