What is An Answering Service?

Businesses of all sizes trust an answering service to field incoming calls, relay messages, and much more. As third-party vendors, answering services allow businesses to outsource time-consuming communications to a dedicated professional resource. Though individual answering services may offer solutions and integrations across a variety of channels, the cornerstone of an answering service remains assisting callers over the phone. 

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, “answering service” has become an umbrella term that encompasses a number of different service models. Interactive voice response systems (IVR), virtual receptionists, and call centers all fall under the category of “answering service”, but offer distinct solutions that may not fit every business.  

What Is an Interactive Voice Response System? 

IVR gives a voice to the standard phone tree setup. Instead of pressing a button to correspond with the caller’s need, the caller is instead prompted to identify themselves or explain their reason for calling.  

IVRs offer scalability with little to no investment in personnel, but their use cases are narrow. This type of automated answering service is best suited to predictable inquiries that are immediately transferred to a specific extension or directed to a self-service portal—all of which a phone tree could use for transferring calls or connecting to self-service operations.

Unlike some other answering services, IVRs are not equipped to field complex inquiries, may not be able to accurately parse non-standard English, and risk frustrating callers—or worse, give callers cause to hang up and take their business elsewhere. They’re like the FAQs of answering services. An IVR can be helpful for predictable inquires with standard solutions that don’t require human oversight or input, but they are not designed to anticipate or address all of your callers’ needs. 

What Is a Call Center? 

Traditional call centers are staffed by large, live teams, but work under similarly limited parameters. Call center operators rely on pre-written scripts to address timely, high-volume queries with limited insight into the business they represent. Many tech support or customer service lines are routed to external call centers, meaning callers are usually existing customers. 

Call centers are designed to resolve a high volume of simple issues very quickly. As such, call centers are not necessarily known for being personable to callers or offering flexible solutions to clients. Call centers rarely make a lasting impression—and, given the type of queries they are equipped to handle, seldom a positive one. 

What Is a Virtual Receptionist? 

Virtual receptionists perform all the call-handling functions of an in-house receptionist from an off-site location. As the most flexible answering service model, virtual receptionist companies like Abby Connect are designed to slot seamlessly into your business and provide immediate value to your callers.  

Typically, virtual receptionists will answer, forward, take messages, and schedule appointments. Armed with information about your business, a virtual receptionist service is the most likely service to sound like they’re actually in your office. Unlike call centers and IVR, virtual receptionist services are much more likely to be focused on caller experience. Instead of moving callers through the queue as quickly as possible, their goal is to help businesses impress callers and drive revenue.

What is Abby Connect?

Abby Connect is a virtual receptionist service powered by trained human receptionists and AI technology. We can do everything your typical answering service can do as well as schedule appointments, complete intake, and integrate seamlessly with your existing workflows in your CRM. We offer custom integrations and a bespoke solutions engineered by our in-house team. You can utilize our service to supplement your on-site receptionists, allow for live after-hours phone coverage, and overflow support for your busy season. In fact, we offer 24/7 live receptionist coverage in addition to our standard 5am-9pm PST weekday and 6am-6pm PST weekend coverage for businesses that need to provide that full-service white-glove experience. 

Callers who reach an Abby receptionist can expect warm, friendly service from a knowledgeable professional. All Abby customers get dedicated receptionist teams who know their business and a dedicated CSM—all based out of our Las Vegas, NV offices, ensuring consistent connection quality and minimal background noise.  

Want to learn more about the Abby Connect difference? We’d love to chat!

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Written by

Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor

Anna is an accomplished marketing professional with an MBA and certification in marketing and eight years of experience in the field. More than half of that experience has been focused on customer experience and small business growth, exploring how businesses balance human and technology solutions. Above all, Anna is committed to human-first marketing and business development, ensuring that every initiative is focused on creating meaningful connections with customers and driving long-term growth.