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Best Call Centers and Answering Services for Businesses

Best Call Centers and Answering Services for Businesses
What to look for when offshoring a call center / Credit: Call center image via Shutterstock

If you've got a business that fields a lot of calls, or if you want to improve your outreach without burdening your staff and interrupting your day-to-day operations, you need a call center service. Call center services offer entrepreneurs a way to engage with their customers and provide professional support without requiring an in-house staff, making them valuable tools to retain current customers and also, in many cases, expand your customer base as well. In order to find the call center services you can trust with your business in 2017, we reviewed 30 companies that offer inbound and outbound calling services. Here is a roundup of our best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.

Ready to choose a call center service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: If you're looking for information to help you choose the call center that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.

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TeleDirect was selected as our best overall call center service for small businesses primarily because it boasts a complete selection of both inbound and outbound services, including some of the harder-to-find features like cold-calling services. TeleDirect's services are also available 24/7/365, meaning your customers will always have someone to speak with, even on weekends and holidays. Depending on your particular needs, you can select shared agents, who conduct multiple campaigns, or dedicated agents, who will be focused solely on your business. TeleDirect also supports English and Spanish, as well as a number of other languages depending on the requirements of your clientele. Find out more about TeleDirect on the call center service's website, or see our full review for more information.

If your business doesn't field a lot of calls, it can be difficult to find a call center service that will truly be cost-effective. Xact Telesolutions has packages featuring low monthly invoice requirements or call minimums, making it an affordable solution for even the smallest businesses. Xact's agents are prepared to answer calls 24/7/365, and the company enables you to monitor any phone call in real time using a supervisory tool. Xact also offers one of the most comprehensive language services, with agents fluent in English and Spanish, and a third-party translation partner that can support more than 100 additional languages. Find out more about Xact Telesolutions on the call center service's website, or see our full review for more information.

Medical practices have unique needs in communications. Not only do medical practices have to ensure security, but they also have to do so in accordance with the federally required HIPAA standards. Specialty Answering Service offers a HIPAA-compliant answering service at affordable rates. There are a number of plans to choose from based on your expected call volume, from the pay-as-you-go economy plan all the way up to the massive 10,000-minute plan. Specialty Answering Service also offers an extremely effective appointment scheduler, complete with follow-ups, which adds a layer of redundancy to your practice-management system's scheduler. Find out more about Specialty Answering Service on the answering service's website, or see our full review for more information.

We take the process of recommending vendors seriously, so we invested substantial time in researching various call center services and their features. We gave each vendor equal consideration. 

We started the process by coming up with a comprehensive list of vendors that offer call center services. To do this, we searched the web and consulted other lists and reviews of the most popular vendors. We ended up with a list of about 30 call center services to examine further. 

From there, we visited the websites of each vendor to compare pricing and features. We looked at all of the details, including inbound services, outbound services, invoice requirements, call minimums and additional features. We used this information to narrow down our field of 30 candidates to 15 finalists. 

Next, we called all the services we were considering, posing as a customer. Beyond just the marketing rhetoric on websites, we wanted to get a feel for how the companies handle actual customer interactions. We asked all of the customer service reps the same set of questions about features, options and pricing, and we noted our reactions to the experience. Company representatives who were friendly and forthcoming got higher marks, and those who were less than helpful or too pushy scored lower.

For our overall best picks, the decision came down to which company offered the best balance of affordability, useful features and effectiveness of call center agents.

Editor's note: If you're looking for information to help you choose the call center that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.

buyerzone widget

Here is a list of 30 call center services we reviewed and a summary of what each company claims to offer. The alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

24-7 InTouch – 24-7 InTouch offers both dedicated and shared call center agents, as well as an option for social media management. As the name suggests, 24-7 InTouch's call centers are open 24/7/365. The company can also integrate a live-chat option into your business's website. http://www.24-7intouch.com/

AbbyConnect – AbbyConnect, formerly TelAssistant, is an inbound/outbound call center service that provides dedicated agents who understand the nuances of your business. It is available 24/7/365 to support your customers on holidays and weekends. http://www.abbyconnect.com/

All West Call Center – All West Call Centers was our runner-up pick for best overall call center service for small businesses. All West will work with you to develop a customized call center service that suits your needs and budget. http://allwestcallcenters.com/Pages/default.aspx

Ambs Call Center – Ambs Call Center is a service that focuses on tailoring a custom plan to fit your specific requirements. The service is accessible 24/7/365 and can include an answering service, virtual receptionist, appointment reminders, secure text messaging and automated attendants. http://www.ambscallcenter.com/

Americall – Americall has been in the call center business for 75 years and offers both inbound and outbound services. Americall's offerings include conducting surveys, processing orders and providing answering services for specific industries. http://www.americall.com/

AnswerConnect – AnswerConnect offers a 24/7/365 call center service and specialized answering services for a number of industries, including e-commerce, finance and health care. In addition to inbound call center services, Answer Connect is also able to design websites for your business. http://www.answerconnect.com/

AnswerForce – AnswerForce bills itself as a "scalable call center solution," particularly for medium-size businesses looking to expand. AnswerForce engages in customer service functions, order processing, appointment setting and virtual-office functions. http://www.answerforce.com/services/call_center

AnswerNet – AnswerNet call centers offer both inbound and outbound services, including order processing, customer support, telemarketing and lead generation. AnswerNet also offers delegation services for "virtually any business process that can be done by phone, fax or email." http://www.answernet.com/

Call Center Pros – Call Center Pros boasts a strong selection of both inbound and outbound services, including lead generation and customer support, and can also embed a live-chat support system on your website. In addition, Call Center Pros offers email support. http://callcenterpros.com/services/

Call Experts – Call Experts offers a customizable service designed to scale with your business. The company's 24/7/365 service includes encrypted messaging, order processing, lead generation, help desk services and appointment setting. http://www.callexperts.com/

CallNet – CallNet offers general call center services as well as industry-specific answering services. Some of the major functions Call Net performs are order processing, lead generation, appointment setting and application services. Services operate 24/7/365. http://callnetservices.com/services/call-center-services/

Callsbo – Managed by A1 Small Business Marketing, Callsbo is a call center that offers telesales, appointment scheduling, answering services and more. Callsbo featured some of the more expensive pricing plans we reviewed and included a "setup fee." http://www.callsbo.com/

Continental Message Solution – CMS Call Center is focused on inbound call services and supports over 200 languages, the most out of any call center we reviewed. CMS operates 24/7/365. https://www.continentalmessage.com/

Contact One – Contact One call centers accommodate large companies and small businesses alike. The 24/7/365 call center includes a 24-hour help desk, appointment scheduling, order processing, surveys and dedicated agents, to name a few. http://www.contactonecallcenter.com/

Enablx – Enablx is a customizable call center that primarily engages in tech support, order processing, customer follow-ups and help desk services. Enablx supports both English and Spanish and also offers text and email services. http://www.enablx.com/

Global Response – Global Response partners with a lot of large brands, including Toyota, Lane Bryant and Anthropologie. The call center offers inbound and outbound services, as well as social media management and a branded customer care program. http://www.globalresponse.com/

Go-Answer – Go-Answer call centers offer both inbound and outbound services, as well as an internet answering service that completes the same functions as the call center. Go-Answer offers order processing, customer service, help desk services and appointment scheduling.

Infinit Contact – Infinit Contact offers inbound, outbound and social media services, including customer service, tech support, order processing, surveys, lead generation and customer retention. Infinit Contact also offers back-office data-management services in addition to its call center. http://www.infinitcontact.com/

LiveOps – LiveOps is a cloud-based call center service that provides exceptional reporting quality and analytics. The company provides both inbound and outbound services, including lead generation, customer service and inbound sales. http://www.liveops.com/agents-on-demand

NotifyMD – NotifyMD specializes in the health care industry, meeting HIPAA-compliance regulations and offering the major functions a medical practice requires, such as patient scheduling and follow-up. The company offers a 30-day free trial. However, NotifyMD has no outbound services. http://www.notifymd.com/

OnBrand24 – OnBrand24 provides both inbound and outbound call center services, including customer service, help desk services, order processing and live-chat support. OnBrand24 also offers lead-generation services, appointment setting, customer "win-back" and database scrubbing. http://www.onbrand24.com/outbound-call-center

Reps Direct - Reps Direct is a unique solution for your contact center needs. They provide dedicated customer support reps that only work for your company, which provides a higher level of inbound/outbound phone, live chat and email support. http://RepsDirect.com

*Specialty Answering Service – Specialty Answering Service is our best pick for answering services for medical practices. This secure inbound/outbound call center service provides 24/7/365 coverage for your business. Features especially useful for a medical practice are appointment setting, patient follow-up, emergency hotlines and solicitation of customer feedback. However, Specialty Answering Service does not offer lead-generation or cold-calling services. To find out more, visit the company's website or check out Business News Daily's full review.

Solid Cactus – Solid Cactus is a customizable call center service that allows you to create a plan based on your business's needs and budget. Choose from features like inbound sales, return management, after-hours support, customer service and live chat. http://www.solidcactus.com/call-center-services

*TeleDirect – TeleDirect is our pick for best overall call center service for small business. It was chosen for its wide range of both inbound and outbound services, exceptional customer service, and availability of dedicated agents. TeleDirect is also able to provide support for a variety of different languages, making this company a versatile option for small business owners no matter the industry. To find out more, visit the company's website or check out Business News Daily's full review.

USA800 – USA800 call centers operate in a number of different industries, from health care and insurance to government and education. In addition to inbound and outbound solutions, USA800 offers disaster-recovery services, live web-chat support, email engagement and automated services. http://www.usa800.com/CallCenterServices.aspx

*Xact Telesolutions – Xact Telesolutions is our best pick for call center services for small businesses that have low calling volume. Because Xact has no monthly calling requirements or invoice minimum, you simply pay for the services you use with the company. Xact offers most core inbound and outbound services, as well as support for more than 100 languages. The company also offers a supervisory tool, so you can monitor calls in real time to ensure you're receiving quality service. To find out more, visit the company's website or check out Business News Daily's full review.

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.