February 26, 2018

Smith.ai vs. PATLive: Live Answering Service Comparison

Are the calls to your business becoming more than you can handle? Do you want to work with fewer interruptions? Signing up for a live answering service means gaining more productive hours in your work day. Today, we compare Smith.ai to PATLive virtual receptionists.

Setup fees, trials & contracts


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


  • Free 14-day trial
  • No setup fee
  • No contract

Discussion: Smith.ai allows you up to twice the time that PATLive does to test out the virtual receptionists. More time means greater exposure to the range of calls your business receives, so you can see how the receptionists handle different scenarios, from new prospects with questions about your fees to existing clients demanding an urgent live transfer to you.

Monthly plans

Smith.ai and PATLive offer a range of monthly plans depending on your call volume:


  • $70 for 10 live receptionist calls and 1 live transfer number
  • $180 for 30 live receptionist calls and 2 live transfer numbers
  • $500 for 100 live receptionist calls and 5 live transfer numbers
  • Custom plans available
  • 15% annual discount when paid up front


  • $149 for 75 live agent minutes
  • $269 for 200 minutes
  • $399 for 350 minutes
  • $629 for 600 minutes
  • $999 for 1,000 minutes

Discussion: Smith.ai provides more affordable options for business owners, with plans starting at just $70/month. And, because we charge per-call instead of per-minute, have more predictable monthly bills and can more easily calculate the cost of acquiring new customers (i.e., you know how much you paid for all calls and then how many of those calls turned into new clients).

Overage costs


  • $7/call on the $70/month plan
  • $6/call on the $180/month plan
  • $5/call on the $500/month plan


  • $1.50 per additional minute on the $149/month plan
  • $1.25 per minute on the $269/month plan
  • $1.10 per minute on the $399/month plan
  • $1.00 per minute on the $629/month plan
  • $0.95 per minute on the $999/month plan

Discussion: Considering that the average business call is about five minutes, according to the Invoca Call Intelligence Report, PATLive’s monthly rates and per-minute overage rates turn out to be a lot more expensive than Smith.ai’s.

For example, Smith.ai's $180/month plan would allow for 30 five-minute calls, but PATLive's $149/month plan would only allow for 15 calls, with those 15 extra five-minute calls adding on another $112.50, bringing the total to $261.50/month.

Looking at a bigger plan? Smith.ai's $500/month plan can deliver 100 five-minute calls, while PATLive's $399/month plan can deliver just 70 five-minute calls. To capture those 30 extra five-minute calls, you'd have to pay PATLive an additional $165, bringing the monthly total to $564. Moreover, those extra calls would cost $5.50 each, $.50 more per call than Smith.ai's $5/call rate.


The following features are offered by both Smith.ai and PATLive:

  • Integration with CRMs and scheduling software
  • Live call transfers
  • Custom call handling procedures
  • Call summaries via email and SMS
  • Lead collection
  • Payment collection
  • U.S.-based receptionists

Smith.ai has the following additional features:

PATLive offers the following additional features:

  • 24/7 live call answering
  • Bilingual services available for an extra $20/month

Discussion: Smith.ai and PATLive offer many similar features. However, Smith.ai's ability to make outbound calls, qualify leads, log new client information, and map incoming callers to client data means our virtual receptionists are able to handle a wider range of services, more fully replacing the duties of an in-house receptionist. 


When comparing live answering services, it's important to pay careful attention to the details and features that will have the greatest impact on your business. If you're paying per-minute and your receptionists are spending time with spam calls, wrong numbers, and salespeople pitching the latest advertising product, those are wasted dollars. And if you're running a marketing campaign that's making your phone ring, but your receptionists can't qualify whether they're a good match for your business, it makes no difference if they've successfully booked time for the new client on your calendar. In fact, it's wasteful if that appointment slot could have been filled by a more qualified lead.

If you're looking to get the level and range of service an in-house receptionist would deliver, but at a fraction of the cost, it comes down to the range of tasks you can assuredly offload on them, not necessarily that they're available 24/7. If you're a locksmith, that coverage may be necessary, but for most businesses, you'll want to look at the quality and comprehensiveness of services delivered during normal daytime hours, and this is where Smith.ai shines.

Smith client testimonial

Don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what a satisfied client of ours had to say:

“I've been using Smith.ai for a few months and I highly recommend them. The service is fantastic and I can't believe the value for money. 10 out of 10.”

- Caemin O’Connor, Karus Chains

One last word

We created the Smith.ai logo in 2015, and then in 2016, PATLive stole it, and put it on their website. We can't make this stuff up! Take a look:

Thankfully, it has now been removed from their site. But this doesn't show good character. If they were comfortable with stealing our logo, what other poor judgments will they make? When you hire an answering service, you're trusting them to represent your business. At Smith.ai, you can rest assured your brand and values are in good hands.

Learn more about Smith.ai

Smith.ai virtual receptionists are trained to learn your business and build a relationship with your customers, just like an in-house receptionist. 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 support@smith.ai. Signing up for our 30-day/10-call free trial is a great way to get started.

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