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5 Best Answering Services for Small Businesses in 2023

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What makes a great answering service?

The best live answering services provide professional, US-based receptionists to handle calls on behalf of a business. In addition, answering services complete receptionist tasks such as scheduling appointments and answering frequently asked questions. The right solutions should be affordable and flexible and help the business elevate their customer service experience. For small businesses, offering a friendly, personable experience on the other end of a phone call is especially important to kickstart the customer service relationship. What makes an effective answering service? How can small businesses know if they are getting a good value? 


Based on our research in speaking with a variety of small businesses about what they are looking for in an answering service, these are the top qualities they are seeking in 2023: 



  • No overage fees and long-term contracts. Many live answering services tack on high costs for overage minutes. Overage minutes are defined as any minutes over the amount set in a business’s monthly package. When weighing options, it is essential to gain a clear understanding of costs that could be added on, which could quickly translate to high, unexpected fees. In addition, when exploring pricing for each answering service, many small businesses prefer the flexibility of month-to-month contracts. With flexible options, businesses can change their plans anytime, depending on seasonality and call volumes. Plus, no one likes to be locked into a year long contract! 


  • Services that include custom scripts. Look for an answering service that offers script customization in order to tailor the responses and frequently asked questions to clientele. For many small businesses, specific questions can help qualify leads. There are also many recurring questions that prospects and customers ask, so it is best to prep a receptionist on how to best answer those questions. Customization will ensure that agents can learn the necessary information from callers in the first conversation. 

Expanded response

  • Multi-channel capabilities. Customers are reaching out to businesses via social media channels and other lead platforms. For small businesses, it is critical to meet customers where they are. Some answering services include message response across platforms to ensure that businesses offer modern customer service through a variety of channels, not just over the phone. It is important to explore additional options, such as text, social messaging, and more, when researching an answering service to cover the bases and provide exceptional customer service. 

Supporting software 

  • Supported by software. Answering services with software platforms help business owners and managers check  call volume quickly, understand the types of calls coming in, and access call recordings from one easy to use platform. Choosing an answering service that has an effective online platform to monitor real time information and access invoices helps provides transparency and helps businesses understand their full return on investment. 

Personal Support 

  • Customer support delivered by real people. No one likes talking to a chatbot; that’s likely why businesses hire answering services in the first place! When looking for an answering service, it’s essential to partner with a team of people that is ready to help with all of your questions and concerns. Connecting with a real person instead of being directed to a chat bot or email address can make a world of difference, in terms of the effectiveness of an answering service. 

We’re taking a closer look at live answering services for small businesses by comparing them to give you a complete overview of these important factors. 

The Best Answering Services at a Glance

Our evaluation of answering services for small businesses is based on the criteria mentioned above: pricing, customization, expanded response services, supporting software, and personal support. These qualities are important for small business owners to achieve success with a live answering service. 


Here’s how a few of the top answering service companies stack up among those criteria:


Here is the analysis of the top answering services for small businesses for 2023, with a breakdown on how they rank in the top categories.

1. Signpost. First to respond. First to close. 


Signpost’s human and technology solution qualifies and converts leads into customers and facilitates multi-channel conversations across social media channels, chat, and more. With Signpost, businesses have a consistent backstop, 24/7, 365 days a year. Signpost’s US-based receptionists provide a personalized front office experience, delivering exceptional customer service and enabling business growth


Overall rating: 5/5 

1/1 Pricing

  • Packages start at 40 calls, with a unit price of $2.59/minute. 
  • Speed-to-lead software retails for $199 as a part of a bundled package with receptionist minutes. 
  • No long term contracts.

1/1 Customization

  • Custom scripts are included in the price, with specific questions relating to FAQs.

1/1 Expanded Response 

  • Signpost has a suite of Speed-to-Lead features that send the first reply to inbound messages through the top lead sources, like Facebook and Google. 
  • All messages are managed from the Messaging Hub, a consolidated inbox.

1/1 Supporting Software 

  • Signpost’s answering service is supported by a software platform that delivers: 
    • Full transparency into call data, inbound leads, and reputation management, including comprehensive Insights. 
    • Reputation management campaigns to generate great customer reviews on the top review platforms like Google, Facebook, and more. 
    • Marketing promotion and campaigns tools.

1/1 Personal Support 

  • Signpost offers live support to businesses, along with personalized onboarding with an onboarding specialist.

2. Ruby. Call in the communication experts.


Ruby’s virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to greet callers and website visitors when a business can’t respond or anytime it needs call coverage. Ruby aims to offer meaningful conversations, operating as an extension of a business’s  team to help outmaneuver the competition and grow the business.


Overall rating: 4/5 

1/1 Pricing 

  • Ruby’s packages range from 50 minutes to 500 minutes, with a cost of $3.65 a minute for their 50 minute package. 
  • They offer flexible, month to month contracts.

1/1 Customization 

  • Ruby offers complete script customization, or call handling, which can be updated through the mobile app anytime.

0/1 Expanded Response 

  • There are no expanded response options to reply to leads and customers through channels other than calls.

1/1 Supporting Software 

  • Ruby provides a comprehensive platform and app to stay on top of call data and to manage scripts, schedules, and more.

1/1 Personal Support 

  • Ruby offers live support, chat, and a resource center.

3. Specialty Answering Service. Answering service for $0. 

Specialty Answering Service (SAS) is a live telephone 24/7 answering service designed to handle business communications while providing great customer service. SAS agents are trained twice as long as the industry standard, with quality control measures to help clients get quality care.

Overall rating: 3.5/5 

1/1 Pricing 

  • Packages start at $38 a month for the base price, with $1.39 per minute charges. 
  • No long-term contracts.

1/1 Customization 

  • Full customization, promoting that the business has control over how every call is answered.

0/1 Expanded Response 

  • There are no expanded response capabilities with SAS.

0.5/1 Supporting Software 

  • SAS provides a portal for businesses to access call summaries and check appointment scheduling.
  • However, this portal does not support outbound texting, nor does it consolidate other messages for comprehensive communication.

1/1 Personal Support 

  • Specialty Answering Service offers live support, chat, and a resource center.


4. Responsive businesses win more clients. captures calls as they come, screening callers, booking appointments, and logging details directly into a business’s CRM and on its calendar. Real-time client data is available in a client dashboard, along with call summaries with pertinent details. also offers outbound campaigns, where their receptionists make calls on a business’s behalf, with the aim of converting more leads.


Overall rating: 3/5 

0.5/1 Pricing 

  • Packages start at $255/month for 30 calls. 
  • However, has additional add-ons for text and email call summaries (at $0.50 each), call recordings or transcriptions ($0.25), and booking appointments ($1.50).
  • Pricing plans are flexible.

0.5/1 Customization 

  • does not use custom scripts, instead it has “conversations that follow a natural flow.”

1/1 Expanded Response 

  • Live, web chat software.
  • Live agent text response.

0/1 Supporting Software 

  • does not offer supporting software. Instead, it encourages businesses to  integrate with existing software.

1/1 Personal Support 

  • offers text, call, and email channels to contact their support team.

5. Posh. You can’t be in two places at once. 

Posh’s professional team of live receptionists answer calls and schedule appointments to help make businesses successful. Customers’ questions and concerns are addressed by a person, no matter the time of day. With customizable call handling, Posh  in as often or as infrequently as the business would like.


Overall rating: 3/5


1/1 Pricing 

  • Packages start at $64 a month for the base price, with $1.99 per minute charges. 
  • No long-term contracts. 

1/1 Customization 

  • Posh offers script customization.

0.5/1 Expanded Response

  • Posh does offer the ability to text customers from their business number.

0.5/1 Supporting Software 

  • Posh offers a portal and a mobile app to help businesses manage their service, activate call forwarding, access to messages, and outbound calling. 
  • However, the app and portal do not offer dynamic insights or messaging tools.

0/1 Personal Support 

  • Posh offers support by email, but not a direct personal support line accessible from their website.


Answering services allow small businesses to provide a great customer experience to everyone who calls in. Choosing the right one can be difficult, with a variety of options. By focusing on the benefits that are most important, businesses can find an answering service to manage calls more effectively,while delighting leads and customers with a friendly, professional receptionist. 


Based on the needs of a modern small business owner in 2023, Signpost is the best live answering service, due to its transparent pricing, custom scripts, and expanded response capabilities to reach leads and customers across channels, along with its comprehensive supporting software, and personalized support.  

Choose an Answering Service FAQs

Q: What is a live answering service?


A: A live answering service provides real people to answer calls on behalf of a business. The best live answering services provide a seamless front office experience, so callers cannot distinguish between an outsourced live answering service and an in-house receptionist.

Q: Why should I hire an answering service?

A: Using an answering service saves time and money when compared to hiring an in-house receptionist. In addition, an answering service can provide flexibility for local businesses who want to answer their calls just some of the time. An answering service is a more affordable way to get 24/7 call coverage. Many businesses choose an answering service because they need additional support answering calls to ensure a real person is engaging with their leads and customers.

Q: How do I choose an answering service provider?


A: When choosing an answering service, exploring the options to determine which service aligns with your business needs is essential. For example, certain industries might have specific requirements, requiring a 24/7 answering support to field calls for emergency services. Some other considerations are services that offer bilingual receptionists, depending on the language and needs of the business’s target market. 


Q: Is an answering service expensive?


A: All answering services vary in price. In some cases, they have a base price and a per-minute rate. Add-ons for additional services, like call transferring or outbound calling, increase monthly costs. Business owners must ensure that they fully understand the costs for the full service and how much overage minutes cost. Overage minutes are defined as any minutes that go over the allotted plan amount, and sometimes live answering service companies charge more for these minutes. Ultimately, overage minutes can be expensive. 


Q: What types of businesses use answering services?


A: Any business can use an answering service. Some specific businesses utilize answering services because of their high call volume and need to be responsive with a real person. These industries include healthcare, home services, legal services, property management, and real estate, among others. 


Q: Why is an answering service more efficient than an answering machine?


A: An answering service is more efficient than an answering machine or voicemail because a real human engages with callers and helps convert more of those calls into booked jobs or appointments. In addition, an answering service helps businesses elevate their customer service, ensuring that prospects and customers feel taken care of and heard throughout their relationship with the business. 

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