February 26, 2018

Smith.ai vs. LiveAnswer: Live Answering Service Comparison

It's often difficult to manage calls from new and existing customers while running a business. Choose the right live answering service to fit your needs now and as your business grows. Today, we compare Smith.ai to LiveAnswer virtual receptionists.

Setup fees, trials & contracts

Smith.ai

  • 30-day/10-call free trial (whichever comes first)
  • No setup fee
  • No contract

LiveAnswer

  • 7-day free trial
  • No setup fee
  • No contract

Discussion: Smith.ai allows you to try our live answering services for up to a month for free. LiveAnswer only gives you a week’s worth of calls, which may not be enough time to gauge your call volume or how the live receptionists handle a wide range of call types (for example, answering questions from a prospective client, transferring a live call, or booking an appointment). 

Monthly plans

Here’s a comparison of Smith.ai's and LiveAnswer’s monthly plans:

Smith.ai

  • $60 for 10 live receptionist calls and 1 live transfer number
  • $150 for 30 live receptionist calls and 2 live transfer numbers
  • $450 for 100 live receptionist calls and 5 live transfer numbers
  • Custom plans available

LiveAnswer

  • $99 for 70 live agent minutes and 100 IVR/forwarding minutes
  • $149 for 125 live minutes and 175 IVR minutes
  • $249 for 225 live minutes and 300 IVR minutes
  • $389 for 400 live minutes and 400 IVR minutes

Discussion: Both Smith.ai and LiveAnswer offer a range of monthly plans to fit your needs. However, LiveAnswer utilizes an interactive voice response (IVR) system (i.e., "press one for Sales, press two for Support..."), which can distance your callers from your business. Smith.ai receptionists answer calls live every time, because we believe in representing your business just as an in-house receptionist would: in a friendly, professional manner that develops a relationship between the customer and your business.

Also, let's consider for a moment the costs if all you care about is the live answering services, and not the IVR. You want all calls to be answered by a live receptionist, because it's a far superior experience. Assuming an average call is about five minutes, according to the Invoca Call Intelligence Report, Smith.ai's $150/month plan would allow for 30 five-minute calls, but LiveAnswer's comparable $149/month plan would only allow for 25 calls, with those five extra five-minute calls adding on another $31.25 (see overage costs below), bringing the total to $180.25/month.

Looking at a bigger plan? Smith.ai's $450/month plan can deliver 100 five-minute calls, where as LiveAnswer's $389/month plan delivers just 80. It would take another $102 for LiveAnswer to handle the extra 20 five-minute calls, bringing the total to $491/month. (And this doesn't even take into account that you're never charged for spam, sales, or wrong-number calls at Smith.ai.)

Overage costs

Smith.ai

  • $6/call on the $60/month plan
  • $5/call on the $150/month plan
  • $4.50/call on the $400/month plan

LiveAnswer

  • $1.45 per additional minute on the $99/month plan
  • $1.25 per minute on the $149/month plan
  • $1.16 per minute on the $249/month plan
  • $1.02 per minute on the $389/month plan

Discussion: Overage is important because it means your service isn't halted when you reach your allotted monthly calls or minutes. Calls beyond your monthly limit are charged on an "a la carte" basis.

Smith.ai’s overage costs allow your customers to spend more time on the phone if needed. Because you pay a flat rate per call (and not per minute), you don’t have to worry about how long your calls last (as long as they're not excessively long), and can rely on a more consistent, predictable bill each month.

Features

Smith.ai and LiveAnswer offer several similar features:

  • Customized call answering procedures
  • Lead qualification and lead intake form completion
  • Call summary reports
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Live call transfers
  • CRM integration
  • Client communication history to match incoming and outgoing calls with individual contact records

 

Smith.ai has the following additional features:

  • No charge for spam calls or wrong numbers
  • Payment collection
  • Integration with all major calendaring and scheduling software programs
  • U.S.-based receptionists
  • Spanish-speaking receptionists

 

LiveAnswer offers the following additional features:

  • 24/7 live call answering
  • Mobile app to view messages and call reports
  • Multilingual receptionists

Discussion: Carefully consider which features are most important to you. Just because LiveAnswer offers 24/7 coverage doesn't mean your business will reap much benefit from that, especially if 95% of calls come during weekday, daytime hours. Now, who answers the call does matter, regardless of the time of the calls. Smith.ai's receptionists all reside in the U.S. and are fully acquainted with U.S. norms, customs, and manners when it comes to professional business phone etiquette. Also, Smith.ai receptionists can make outbound calls on your behalf, so you can offload routine tasks like appointment reminders, work status updates, and other client notifications.

Summary

LiveAnswer and Smith.ai are both robust live answering services that won't lock you in to a long-term contract, which is flexibility that every small business needs. The distinctions appear when you compare features -- do you want quality or quantity? If you're looking for basic call routing and scripted receptionists who follow basic directions, LiveAnswer may be a good fit. If you're looking for the level of attention to detail that an in-house receptionist would bring, including the ability to make both inbound and outbound calls, Smith.ai is the better tailored solution.

Smith.ai client testimonial

Don't just take our word for it. Here’s some feedback from a long-time Smith.ai client:

“My company has been using Smith.ai for about a year and the results have been great. The staff at Smith are incredibly friendly and work with you on a script for your callers. They even created a ‘call blast’ service for us to guarantee a member of our staff received the message. I highly recommend if you are looking for a professional, courteous, and affordable answering service.”

- Matthew Cotton, RestorePros Remediation Services

Learn more about Smith.ai

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 6 AM and 6 PM PST. You can also reach us by email at support@smith.ai. Signing up for our 30-day/10-call free trial is a great way to get started.

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