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What is Time Based Answering Service Pricing?
Aaron Boatin

By: Aaron Boatin on August 19th, 2019

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What is Time Based Answering Service Pricing?

How Answering Services Work

The best telephone answering services charge by the minute. It's the most fair and accurate way to account for the work they do for you. In the answering service industry, this is known as work time. Think of them as your staff on demand where you are only paying someone when they are actually working. 

This includes when the operator is speaking with callers, documenting information, and relaying that information to you. It also includes the time when updates are made to your account.

50 years ago, answering services used to charge by the call. This was before the technology existed to accurately measure time spent working for you. Nowadays, there is no guesswork, everything is tracked automatically.

What Does Answering Service Work Time Include?

Work time minutes accrue when the answering service staff is working for you on your account. It includes the different tasks that you may ask them to perform for you. Minutes are typically billed in 20-second or 30-second increments and rounded up to the next increment.

The following tasks make up work time.

  • Answering the phone and taking messages or information
  • Making phone calls to your staff or customer
  • Sending email and text messages
  • Paging
  • Making account changes or updates
  • Responding to email or text responses
  • Entering on-call information - Avoid this by using free web on-call scheduling
  • Transferring calls

What Work Time Does Not Include

The following items are not aspects that are not charged for as part of work time.

  • The time when the caller hears ringing.
  • When the caller is on hold.
  • Using the web portal to view messages, update on-call status, or run reports.

Tips to Reduce the Amount of Work Time You Use

We’re big fans of utilizing technology to send information in the fastest and most secure manner possible. Can't wake up to a text? Use a text + phone call combo. Having the text and phone call happen at the same time saves you from scrambling for a pen and paper in the middle of the night. The information is already on your phone when you answer the call. This makes life easier and saves you money.

Other ways to reduce your answering service costs include:

  • Updating your on-call information using web on-call.
  • Screen Routine Calls with a Voicemail Greeting.
  • Use Caller ID Match for repeat callers.
  • Use a database lookup to fill in known information.
  • Make sure the information that the call center is using is up to date.
  • Make sure your staff is responding to calls in a timely manner.
  • Reduce extraneous information asked of callers.

Check out our 8 surefire ways to reduce your answering service bill for more details about these cost reducing tips.

Ultimate Answering Service Guide ebook


About Aaron Boatin