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Specialty Answering Service Review

Best Answering Service Overall

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

After conducting considerable research and analysis of call center services, we recommend Specialty Answering Service as the best overall answering service in 2019.

Specialty Answering Service (SAS) is our pick as the best overall answering service. It has decades of experience across several industries, multiple flexible pricing plans and a strong slate of services. SAS also offers HIPAA-compliant answering services; its agents are trained to handle sensitive communications in a secure manner. It's focused on numerous verticals, including the healthcare, legal and finance industries.

In addition to answering services, SAS offers inbound and outbound call center services, which is a good option for growing companies and bigger businesses that need help with technical support, market research and dealer locate services.

To read all of our call center service recommendations, visit our Business News Daily best picks page.

Editor's note: If you're looking for information to help you choose the call center that's right for you, fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

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Specialty Answering Service is the best overall answering service because of its competitive pricing and extensive features. SAS has decades of experience working with companies in the agriculture, construction, energy, entertainment, financial, healthcare, legal, real estate and retail industries. It complies with HIPAA regulations and trains its agents on handling sensitive communications.

SAS' services can be customized to suit your business. Whether your business is based in a highly specialized field, or you need help with order taking or urgent response, SAS covers all the bases. Its range of pricing plans make it a suitable option for businesses small and large, and it can easily scale services to accommodate the needs of a growing company.  

AS offers eight pricing plans. The highest call volume plan has a highly competitive rate of 77 cents per minute, and the pay-as-you-go plan costs $1.19 per minute. The monthly subscription packages make Specialty Answering Service a flexible company that is a good solution for businesses that have a low volume of calls and those that have phone lines that are constantly busy. The company offers a 14-day free trial; you don't need to provide a credit card in advance, and there are no obligations once the trial period is up. Here's more about Specialty Answering Services' eight pricing plans:

  • Plan A: $31 per month, plus a $1.19 per-minute overage fee
  • Plan B: $117 per month for 100 minutes, plus a $1.09 per-minute overage fee
  • Plan C: $199 per month for 220 minutes, in addition to a $1.09 per-minute overage fee       
  • Plan D: $490 per month for 500 minutes, plus a 99 cent per-minute overage fee
  • Plan E: $925 for 1,000 minutes, plus a 95 cent per-minute overage fee
  • Plan F: $2,200 for 2,500 minutes, in addition to an overage fee of 89 cents for each additional minute
  • Plan G: $4,199 for 5,000 minutes, plus an 85 cent per-minute overage fee
  • Plan H: $7,749 for 10,000 minutes, plus a 79 cent per minute overage fee

SAS charges on a month-to-month basis. (You're not bound by a long-term contract.) Plans are flexible; you can upgrade or downgrade according to expected call volume, a convenient feature for seasonal businesses. It charges a one-time setup fee of $50, which was average based on the fees other answering services we evaluated charge. However, the company often waives the setup fee for clients that sign up for service immediately following their free trial.

In the answering service industry, many companies bill in 6-second increments, which means call time is  rounded up to the nearest 6-second mark. For example, a call lasting 1 minute and 1 second would be billed as 1.1 minutes, or 1 minute and 6 seconds. Incremental billing inflates usage, reducing the number of remaining minutes allotted to your business each month. SAS bills by the second, meaning call time is never rounded up. You are only billed for the time that agents spend with callers.

SAS is more heavily focused on inbound call services, but it can perform outbound telemarketing as well.

Here's a look at some of the key services the company offers.

  • Live answering: Using a script that you provide, SAS agents will assist your customers 24/7/365. Your business can utilize SAS during business hours, after hours or for overflow calls only.
  • Message taking: SAS will capture callers' basic info, like their name, contact information, reason for calling, and will forward it to a point of contact in your company via email, text message or whichever method of notification you prefer.
  • Order processing: If you operate an e-commerce site, SAS agents can help your customers with questions and their purchases. It has a PCI-compliant portal and network.
  • Lead capture: SAS can capture the details of callers inquiring about a product or service and update your company's CRM accordingly.
  • Appointment scheduling: Agents can set new appointments using a shared calendar. You can view the schedules in real time, in addition to receiving a notification when a new appointment is set.
  • Bilingual support: SAS agents are fluent in both English and Spanish.
  • Client portal: A client portal, which can be accessed through the web or on SAS' mobile application, details account usage in real time, including the number of calls coming in, the duration of each call, the result of each call and more. You can also dig into the statistics deeper to learn who is calling, the commons reasons behind calls and where callers are located. Last, you can easily make adjustments to your script, which are then updated in real time for SAS
  • Help desk: SAS' call center can function as an IT help desk for callers needing assistance troubleshooting software or technical products. If agents aren't able to resolve the issue to the caller's satisfaction, the call is then referred to a point of contact in your company.
  • Sales: SAS can act as an outsourced sales department for inbound calls. Its agents can conduct common sales functions, including up selling and cross-selling.
  • Dealer locate: If your business uses distributors, agents can help callers find suppliers in their area.
  • Market research: SAS agents can conduct polls and surveys to generate new insights into your target audience.

SAS' per-minute rates for its lower call volume plans are higher compared to the rates charged by other services we evaluated. For its higher call volume plans, however, the rates are very competitive. For small businesses on a tight budget, though, the higher rates for the low-volume plan could require a second thought. For growing, mid-sized and larger businesses, however, SAS is a cost-effective and feature-rich option.

SAS provided some of the best customer service we encountered. We placed calls to more than a dozen call centers and answering services – the SAS representative we spoke with was very friendly and knowledgeable.

We told the representative early on that our hypothetical business was not ready to buy – were only in the research stage. That did not discourage the representative from spending a great deal of time on the phone with us explaining aspects of SAS' service, such as onboarding, pricing, the typical services SAS provides to businesses and how we could potentially scale with the service.

Despite the representative's obvious enthusiasm for SAS, we never felt pushed to make a buying decision. Following the call, the representative quickly followed up with additional materials and checked in to see if we had any questions, again never pressuring us to sign up. Overall, our customer service experience with Specialty Answering Service was exceptional.

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, fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

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Adam C. Uzialko

Adam C. Uzialko, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University in 2014 with a degree in political science and journalism and media studies. He reviews healthcare information technology, call centers, document management software and employee monitoring software. In addition to his full-time position at Business News Daily and business.com, Adam freelances for several outlets. An indispensable ally of the feline race, Adam is owned by four lovely cats.