Let’s take a look at the best virtual receptionist software solutions that allow you to run a telephone answering service (TAS) business.  For those who are new to the industry of telephone answering services, a telephone answering service is the outsourcing of inbound calls that your business receives.  Some businesses may outsource all of their calls to these virtual receptionists and some may only outsource some of their calls.  Agents operating telephone answer service software have the ability to either handle the call themselves, or transfer the call to the appropriate extension number for the client they’ve received the call from.  Agents often manage multiple clients, so it’s vital to have software that can handle keeping all clients organized properly. Check out this comprehensive resource on starting an answering service for a more in depth look for those new to the industry of telephone answering services.

Important Terminology & Features to Look For

When looking for the right virtual receptionist software, it’s vital to understand key concepts and features that can make or break your business. Let’s cover some basics, and then we’ll go into some more advanced items.

  • Telephone Answering Service (TAS) – A business that handles outsourced inbound calls for one or more clients, and acts as a virtual receptionist.
  • Telephone Answering Service Software – This is what powers how the calls are made and directed along with how your business processes stay organized while operators and agents interact with clients and customers.

Important features & things to consider when deciding on the right software for your virtual receptionist team.

  • Cloud-Based Solutions vs On Premise Solutions – Cloud based software means that servers are hosted securely in the cloud (internet), and managers and operators will use a web based browser to log in to an interface with a database. This is a more modern, flexible solution that allows people the ability to work from anywhere with instant access to log on with just an internet connection, USB headset, and computer or laptop with Google Chrome as the VOIP phone service is often included. On premise simply means that hardware will be required on the location of the answering service in order for it to function. This is often cumbersome, expensive, and not very remote-work friendly. In addition, you’ll likely be responsible for finding your own phone service to go with it.
  • Call Recording & Monitoring – It’s vital to have a system that can record all calls (or certain calls) for training, legal, and compliance purposes. Coaching and monitoring ability allows managers to listen in on the operators during live calls or even whisper coach or barge in to join the conversation.
  • Billing – Having a strong billing capability is essential to ease of use. It will need to track minutes and calls for each client and provide easy to read reports an ensure everyone is on the same page. Bonus points if it can integrate with 3rd party billing software such as Quickbooks via API or built in plugins.
  • Operator Interface – Operators (agents) need to have an easy to use interface so they can be as productive as possible. The ability to handle multiple calls at once, place users on hold, and make appropriate notes for the right clients is critical to running an efficient telephone answering service.
  • Omni-Channel Contact Center Communication – In the modern era, communication takes place not only via phone, but through other channels including email, text, and live chat. Your TAS software should provide the ability to engage with customers in multiple ways that suit your business.

EVS7 has been around since 1993 putting out high quality dialing software, and while this product is new to their offerings, it doesn’t lack for features and user experience.  Fox Telephone Answering Service (TAS) Software is fully cloud-based and includes texting, reporting, billing, internal chat, and unlimited calling. Unlike many other options, you won’t have to shop around for multiple vendors.  As virtual receptionists, your team can receive calls and speak with, text, and email unlimited clients and their customers all while staying organized.  Manage your team from anywhere using just a web browser. Also see Fox HIPAA Compliant Physician Answering Service Software for medical practices.

**Editor’s choice for best solutions** 

Key Features

cloud-based intuitive interface, handle multiple calls at once, simple billing reports, internal chat, HIPPA compliance, 2 way texting, email, high-level security, integrations, company white-labeling, no hardware required 

Pricing: $$

Fantastic value that includes unlimited calls, no setup fees, no contracts

CallCentre Hosting offers a cloud solution that connects with Zoiper soft phone without the need for hardware.

Key Features

Pop-ups for different clients, custom scripts, reporting, web portal for clients, sms, email

Pricing: $$$

Startel has been in the TAS industry a long time, and now has a hybrid-cloud option available for answering services.  You will need to shop around for VOIP or texting or other services.

Key Features

Auto-dispatch, forms, multiple call handling

Pricing: $$$$$

Hardware required

Small Business Answering Software for TAS

Small Business Answering Software for TAS Small Business Answering Software for TAS

nSolve offers PC based software for clients in the UK and US. This is a solution that has been around for 15 years but requires hardware and on-premise setup rather than cloud solutions. 

Key Features

Automatic billing logging, scalable, customer support, custom form designer, optional soft-phone built in

Pricing: $$$$

Hardware required

Amtelco may be the biggest name in the Telephone Answering Service software industry as it’s provided legacy hardware solutions for years since 1976.  It operates on the need for  expensive hardware and requires multiple pieces in place to implement.  They also have other divisions including 1Call which is more specific for the healthcare industry.

Key Features

Call distribution/skill-based routing, reporting, scheduling

Pricing: $$$$$

Hardware required

Virtual Receptionist Software for TAS

Virtual Receptionist Software for TAS Virtual Receptionist Software for TAS

Virtual TAS offers cloud based or PBX options for a telephone answering service. 

Key Features

Manage multiple clients, texting, email, fax, call recording, call transfers, management features, reporting

Pricing: $$$

Expensive setup fees, reasonable monthly agent fees, nickle and dime you for other options 

CTI Software’s TheAnswer is a .net based software for managing your TAS. This includes tools for handling calls and interacting with clients and customers as well as tracking billing. TheAnswer was primarily designed with medium to large businesses in mind for scalability.

Key Features

Call distribution/skill-based routing, reporting, scheduling

Pricing: $$$$

Hardware required

Additional TAS Virtual Receptionist Resources

Aside from software providers, there are a number of other important resources for TAS industry businesses to keep up with. Connections Magazine is valuable asset for anyone wanting to learn more about the industry, keep up with important trends, and dive into the multitude of topics from Legal Articles to the Rise of Cloud-Based TAS solutions.

Alliant offers Professional Liability Insurance for Telephone Answering Services. Services like Pulsar360 offer on-premise hardware solutions and have partnered with some software companies if you like the idea of splitting services up, rather than using an all-in-one solution such as Fox Cloud Virtual Receptionist Software

There are many industry groups providing valuable resources, training, mentor-ships, and conferences for learning all about the TAS industry and virtual receptionist software. ATSIASTAA, and TUNe are just a few of the many groups to consider joining.

Contact Center Software / Call Center Software vs Virtual Receptionist Software

Contact center software is more general terminology for the type of platform required to run a TAS business. Contact centers give users the ability to communicate with customers through different channels (omni-channel), including voice (inbound or outbound calls), texting, email, live chat, and more. Contact centers could suit just about any industry from insurance companies interacting with their own clients to companies doing infomercials on TV receiving large volumes of inbound calls. Virtual receptionist software (or telephone answering service software) is a specific type of contact center or call center software with specific additional features to help businesses manage handling calls for multiple clients, keeping up with billing, and staying organized. Check out a comprehensive guide to call center management software for more info on this topic.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the right virtual receptionist software can make or break your business, especially in the early stages when you’re struggling to find clients. It’s vital to know exactly what your expenses will be each month (or are there annual payments or contracts?), and you don’t want to skimp on necessary features either. Whether you decide to go cloud-based with all inclusive software, or buy hardware and phone service separately, knowledge is power. Disclaimer: Telephonelists.biz is run by EVS7 so we admit we’re a bit biased. However, we presented information for you to make your own decisions based on the facts.