How do you decide the best live answering service for your business? It’s all about choosing the company with the best features at the most affordable price. Today, we compare Smith.ai to AnswerFirst virtual receptionists.
Discussion: It’s easy to feel more comfortable when committing to a new service when you can try it out for free first. AnswerFirst does not provide a free trial period; Smith.ai does. Additionally, setup takes an estimated "60 to 90 minutes" with AnswerFirst, and customers are billed for this time at the live-operator rate (varies by plan type, but it will be between $1.03 and $1.12 per minute). According to a recent email from their team, the average cost is $65 to $130, which is a steep price if you simply want to try the service. At Smith.ai, for your free trial you're set up and treated like a regular, paying customer.
Smith.ai and AnswerFirst both offer flexible monthly plans based on your call volume.
AnswerFirst charges $20 per billing cycle (4 weeks) and you pay per usage, with rates that vary depending on the number of calls that come in. Rates range from $1.03 to $1.12 per minute, as follows:
Discussion: Although AnswerFirst only charges you for the minutes you use, you can still end up paying more than you would with Smith.ai. Say your average call is around five minutes, which is the average business call length based on Invoca research. At $1.12 per minute from AnswerFirst, 20 live calls (plus their base fee) would cost you $132, compared to the same calls as part of Smith.ai’s $140 plan.
But AnswerFirst charges for wrap-up time after each call (recording call notes, setting the call disposition, and logging other data). That can add a full minute, or more for a promising or complex call, to your total charges. The plan above is now $155 compared to the same $140 Smith.ai plan.
When you're charged per-minute rather than per-call, your costs are more variable. It's also far more difficult to calculate the cost of acquiring new clients when you're paying per minute rather than per call. With Smith.ai you know exactly how many calls were answered and how many are turned into new clients, so the conversion cost is easily calculated.
Because AnswerFirst offers pay-as-you-go plans, there are no overage fees, but per-minute rates are as follows:
Discussion: Smith.ai does not charge by the minute, but by the number of calls our virtual receptionists answer. If we're assuming an average of five minutes per call, that means Smith.ai is fairly comparable between $1 and $1.40 per minute, compared to $1.03 to $1.12 per minute at AnswerFirst. Although Smith.ai's prices might seem slightly higher, the flat fee structure will ensure there are no long calls pushing your whole average into pricey amounts.
Smith.ai and AnswerFirst offer the following features
Smith.ai has the following additional features:
AnswerFirst offers the following additional features:
Discussion: Virtual receptionist services from Smith.ai and AnswerFirst share a similar set of core features. Both Smith.ai and AnswerFirst are well equipped to answer and direct your calls. If you need mobile messaging apps, AnswerFirst offers that, while Smith.ai doesn't, but we find most businesses would rather not pay for services that are unnecessary, like mobile apps. And if it's scripted call center, high volume experience your business needs, Smith.ai's more personalized approach may not be the right fit. It depends on your business. Smith.ai also doesn't offer email processing — it's up to you to determine if that will have positive ROI for your business.
What does yield significant business growth is having your virtual receptionists qualify and schedule appointments with new leads, and serve as first-tier customer and technical support. (Smith.ai integrates with your helpdesk ticketing software so skilled team members can handle the support request after we triage it to the right department.) And a major time saver is Smith.ai's outbound calling feature. Our receptionists can relay messages to clients, call clients with appointment reminders, and more.
AnswerFirst and Smith.ai are both distinguished in the large crowd business delivering live answering services first and foremost because their receptionists are all U.S.-based, leading to higher overall conversation quality between the receptionists and your customers. But beyond that, the experiences differ significantly. AnswerFirst is a massive operation supported by call centers, whereas Smith.ai takes a 1:1 approach with each client — no matter which receptionist answers your calls, the caller will get the sense that you have an in-house receptionist, who is highly knowledgeable about your business and equipped to fully represent you. For businesses looking to truly build better, more meaningful relationships with their clients, like law firms, IT consultants, marketing agencies, financial advisors, and more, we think you'll appreciate the Smith.ai difference.
Don't just take our word for it! Here’s what one happy Smith.ai client had to say:
“I have been using Smith.ai for about two months and I am extremely pleased. The ease of use, reasonable cost, and very professional staff have made this one of my best business decisions of the past year.”
- Kevin Levine, L. Kevin Levine, PLLC
Smith.ai virtual receptionists are trained to learn your business and build a relationship with your customers. Discuss your options with us by calling (650) 727-6484 Monday through Friday between 5am – 6pm PT. You can also reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Signing up for our 20-call / 14-day free trial is a great way to get started.
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