The telephone answering service industry has not been part of the telecommunications technology boom of the last thirty years.

It’s a simple truth: Since the late 70’s, as voice mail, cellular, paging and sophisticated telephone company switching services became commonplace, the percentage of businesses and professions using traditional telephone answering service has declined by approximately ninety percent. In lock-step, the number of answering services in the United States and Canada has declined from 20,000 to perhaps 1,500.

However, although fewer in number and belonging to relatively narrow vertical markets, the telephone answering service customers of today still absolutely require a human being at the end of the line. For these businesses and professions, there is no other alternative to human-to-human interaction. And here’s the problem: There simply are not that many high quality answering services from which to choose.

The industry has always suffered a bad reputation, and for good reason: This is an incredibly complex business and lots can go wrong. The product is based on human decision-making, as well as very complex telephone equipment and networks. Telephone answering service is a 24/7/365 proposition that regularly involves emergency call support as well as routine call processing. To survive at all is a challenge; to excel and grow is a significant achievement.

But the challenge is compounded by the typical answering service owner’s failure to invest in the strategies that could produce the highest quality telephone answering service. I extensively discuss the simple, pragmatic steps to business efficiency and profitability in a book I wrote entitled Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less.)Published May 1, 2008 and now in it’s third edition, you can find it on Amazon, your local book store, or at Or call us, and we’ll send you a hard copy, gratis.

To stay afloat, many surviving answering services cut costs by compensating Telephone Service Representatives (TSRs) with minimum wages/benefits while failing to upgrade equipment. Too many are locked in a who-can-offer-the-lowest-price battle. Predictably, especially because of the historical low-pay/high staff-turnover syndrome, there are just a handful of high quality answering services in the United States. These select services offer answering service quality equal to, or better than, your own front office staff.

And how does one find the highest quality answering service? Good luck: There are no resources that you will find that rank quality. The best one can do is take the time to investigate and try to make an informed choice.

At Centratel we consider ourselves “the highest quality answering service in the United States.” We support this contention with a variety of statistics including the most fundamental indicator available: A telephone answering service’s bottom-line quality of service to customers. At Centratel this is reflected in the “Customer Reported Error Rate” statistic. Our most recent Customer Reported Error Rate (October through December, 2019) was 1 customer-reported error for every 6,716 message transactions processed. Considering the complexity of the work, and at the risk of puffery, this is a remarkable statistic.

For further information about the ins and outs of the business, check our FAQ page. Here are some “case studies” of typical Centratel answering service accounts.

Based in Bend, Oregon, Centratel provides 24/7/365 toll-free service throughout the United States. So, if your business or profession is one of our specialties, thoroughly investigate this web site. I suggest your next step be to review “Why Centratel,” a summary of how we operate. Then, contact us via phone (1-800-664-7159) or through this website via the Price Quote page.

-Sam Carpenter
President and majority owner, Centratel