April 20, 2018

Smith.ai vs. Alert Communications: Live Answering Service Comparison

Do you know how to choose a live answering service that’s right for your business and your clientele? Discover the differences in features between Smith.ai and Alert Communications virtual receptionists to help you make the right decision.

Setup fees, contracts & trials


  • No setup fee

  • No contract

  • 30-day/10-call free trial (whichever comes first)

Alert Communications

  • Deposit required (equal to the monthly plan you choose)

  • No contract

  • No free trial

Discussion: Smith.ai offers you more flexibility when it comes to getting started. You have the opportunity to try our services for up to a whole month for free before making a commitment. We believe this is key to helping small businesses feel certain they're satisfied with our services before putting any money on the table. Alert Communications doesn’t allow you to try their services, and they require a deposit before getting started.

Monthly plans

Here’s what Smith.ai and Alert Communications offer with their monthly plans:


  • $60 for 10 live receptionist calls and 1 live transfer number

  • $150 for 30 calls and 2 live transfer numbers

  • $450 for 100 calls and 5 live transfer numbers

  • Custom plans available

Alert Communications

Alert Communications does not display their pricing information online, so the information below was received via email from one of their sales representatives. 

  • $495 for 200 minutes
  • $880 for 400 minutes
  • $1,995 for 1,000 minutes
  • $4,875 for 2,500 minutes
  • $9,500 for 5,000 minutes
  • Custom plans available

Discussion: At Smith.ai, we charge by the call, not per minute like many other live answering services. This leads to more predictable billing each month. Moreover, we know from the 2015 Invoca call intelligence survey that the average business call lasts five minutes. At $2.48 per minute on the lowest plan, that means a five-minute business call will cost $12.40, which is more than double the per-call cost with Smith.ai's lowest plan.

With 200 minutes in this same lowest-tier plan at Alert Communications, you'd be able to have 40 five-minute calls handled. For $45 less, you get 60 more calls handled by Smith.ai. If you need your receptionists to do anything more than greet, transfer, and take messages from callers, you're going to experience calls that last several minutes, and Smith.ai offers a better value.

Overage costs


  • $6.00/call on the $60/month plan

  • $5.00/call on the $150/month plan

  • $4.50/call on the $450/month plan

Alert Communications

Again, Alert Communications does not display pricing on their website, so the following overage costs were received via email.

  • $2.95/minute on the $495/month plan=
  • $2.50/minute on the $880/month plan
  • $2.25/minute on the $1,995/month plan
  • $2.10/minute on the $4,875/month plan
  • $1.95/minute on the $9,500/month plan

Discussion: Make note that Alert Communications charges more per minute for overage than the per-minute costs within the allotted plan minutes. For example, you'll pay about $2.48/minute on the $495/month plan, but if you go over, you'll pay $2.95 per minute. The difference is reduced as you increase your plan cost, but still at $9,500/month plan, you're paying an extra $0.05/minute for every minute over your allotment. At Smith.ai, your overage costs are identical to your plan costs.


Smith.ai and Alert Communications offer the following features:

  • Custom call handling procedures
  • U.S.-based receptionists
  • Lead qualification
  • New client intake

  • Appointment scheduling & integration with calendaring software

  • Outbound calls

  • Live call transfers

  • Integration with most major CRMs

  • Bilingual services available

  • Call summary reports


Smith.ai has the following additional features:

  • Integration with helpdesk ticketing software programs

  • Payment collection

  • Client history mapping so clients receive personalized attention

  • Messages texted to you or

  • Custom greetings and

  • No charge for spam calls or wrong numbers


Alert Communications offers the following additional features:

  • 24/7 live call answering


Discussion: Alert Communications and Smith.ai offer many of the same features. Notably, Alert Communications offers 24/7 service. However, most businesses would prefer to let less urgent after-hours calls outside of business hours go to voicemail rather than paying per-minute for those calls to be answered live. Moreover, given the similar feature set, if you're going to be utilizing all of the services offered by Alert Communications, your calls are going to run longer. In one example provided by email, an "intake" call was estimated to last 14 minutes, which is going to cost you a lot of money at scale, at $2 to $3 per minute. For the same set of features, consider taking advantage of Smith.ai's lower price point and per-call billing model. We do charge extra for excessively long calls and for some optional add-on services (see our Pricing page and Reasonable Use policy for details), but typically per-call costs will still come out to less than Alert Communications' per-minute charges.


Alert Communications operates a call-center where their receptionists answer calls, and their business is geared towards companies that require only short talk times, otherwise it becomes extremely expensive, as we've discussed above. For short calls, scripts are often utilized, which result in a distant, impersonal experience for callers.

Smith.ai receptionists use proprietary technology that presents the right information to them at the right time during each call, so they are equipped to handle the call without scripts, for a more natural conversation flow, leading to an experience that mimics that of an in-house receptionist (at a fraction of the cost of a new staff member).

Smith.ai client testimonial

Don't just take our word for it. Read what a longtime Smith.ai client had to say:

“Wonderful answering service! I'm a solo practitioner attorney and I can't get to my phone at all times. I know that my phones will be answered professionally at all times. The ability to text updates to Smith without fussing with an app is a huge bonus. I highly recommend.”

- Regina Edwards, Edwards Family Law

Try Smith.ai for free

Let us show how our virtual receptionists can support and grow your business. Give us a call Monday through Friday 5am – 6pm PT at (650) 727-6484, or email us at support@smith.ai. The best way to get started is with a 30-day/10-call free trial.

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