How to Choose Between a Local and Nationwide Answering Service

Elizabeth Lockwood

If you find your business missing a lot of valuable calls or spending an inordinate amount of time returning messages, you need an answering service. Of course, that comes with its own set of concerns and considerations, starting with what type of answering service to hire. There are several options out there today, including answering services and virtual receptionist solutions that can handle everything from calls and chats to lead intake, appointment scheduling, and even payment collection for the businesses that need it. 

There are several factors to consider in choosing the right answering service. One of the first things that you’ll want to decide is whether to work with a local answering service or to choose a nationwide provider that delivers service across the U.S. There are definitely benefits to be had from hiring locally in certain situations. However, you may also realize that a nationwide answering service offers more flexibility, value, and resources for your money. 

How are you to choose? 

Fortunately, that’s a simple process that starts by considering what you need and what your budget looks like. Then, you’ll want to review the options for local and national answering services to find the one that fits those needs and budget accordingly. Of course, it’s not exactly that simple. Here are some things to keep in mind. 

Why are nationwide answering services better?

There’s a time and place for local business, but when it comes to the people answering your phones, the nationwide providers might be a better option. For starters, they’ve got access to more resources, which allows them to offer faster service and more efficient solutions. They have trained, highly qualified people answering the phone and handling all of the needs of the callers. 

A nationwide call center will be more agile and able to scale with your business as it grows. This is going to benefit you because you won’t have to switch providers when your small business gets a bit bigger. In addition to a customized solution that includes a host of features, you’ll be able to add and remove services and agents as you need, making it easy to get the perfect fit. 

Speaking of a host of features, nationwide answering services and virtual receptionists can provide dozens of different services and features, including everything from after-hours answering to live chat on your website, assistance with outreach campaigns, and even payment collection to streamline all of your communications and admin needs in one place. 

Nationwide companies will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you won’t have to pay a premium for that level of service. Weekend and holiday services are included, and you only pay for what you need. Some local providers might try to offer 24/7 solutions, but usually, their limited resources and access to talent will keep them from being successful in the way that nationwide companies can. 

What to look for in an answering service

Now that you can see all the perks of hiring a nationwide answering service or virtual receptionist, you’ll want to consider what features you should be looking for. National companies typically offer full-service admin and communications solutions, as mentioned above, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding what you need. 

Some of the most important criteria are also the best benefits:

  • 24/7 live answering support
  • Trained, experienced agents
  • Flexible, customizable plans and services 
  • Scalability and agility
  • Transparent pricing and plans

When you are in the market for a reputable answering service, these elements should be at the top of your list. Consider the available features compared to what you need, too, to ensure that you can get it all in one place. 

Feel free to check out reviews and find out more about each provider before you select yours. That will give you firsthand insight and third-party input about which virtual receptionists or answering services are going to deliver the best service for your small business. 

Consider their limitations

Nationwide companies usually have a bigger footprint, a bigger pool of resources, and more talent to assist businesses like yours that want an answering service. Local companies do well in their own right, but they have many more limitations than a national provider. Local answering services may have:

  • Limited resources
  • Limited options/features 
  • Limited pricing (AKA higher costs)
  • Limited staffing

If you need an agile, efficient answering service, it may be best to stick with a national company. That way, you won’t run into the issue of having a provider that can’t keep up with or deliver on all of your needs. 

It’s noble to consider local services first and there are several places where they will be of significant value to your organization. However, when it comes to who is answering the phones, a national provider is always a better option. There will be fewer limitations (if any) and you’ll be able to get a truly custom solution that includes everything that you need in one place. 

Partner with Smith.ai for the perfect communications solution 

At Smith.ai, we know how valuable your time is and we want to make sure that you can maximize it effectively. That’s why we have a team of dedicated virtual receptionists that are professionally trained and have years of expertise to deliver the 24/7 answering service solutions that you need. 

Not only that, but we can also assist with things like lead intake, appointment scheduling, outreach campaigns, and even live website chat. Has your business not added a chat feature? Now is a good time to do it and we can help you get it right. And as always, this all comes with a custom strategy to ensure we don’t miss a beat and you don’t miss a single opportunity. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can deliver the answering service solutions that you need. You can also reach out to us at hello@smith.ai

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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