There are approximately 800 live telephone answering services nationwide, ranging in size from handling one hundred clients, to over four thousand. They are 24/7/365 operations, with the smallest answering service employing as few as ten employees, and the largest, over five hundred.
The history of the answering service industry stretches back to the first days of telephones.
What does a live answering service do? Serving business and professional clients, the telephone service representative (operator) takes incoming calls, records messages in a database, and then passes those messages on to the client’s on-call personnel. Many of the incoming calls are of an urgent nature, thus making the answering service a private enterprise 911 service.
Quality of service ranges widely. In a live answering service, problems arise because of the complexity of the endeavor; the thousands of spinning wheels that are prone to go off the tracks. (I speak of business efficiency in my book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less.) Published in 2008 and now in its 4th edition, it can be found on Amazon, your local book store, or at www.workthesystem.com. The book traces the evolution of Centratel, the answering service that I’ve owned for over 30 years.
Statistically, Centratel is “the highest quality live answering service in the United States,” with a Customer Reported Error Rate (April through June, 2023) was 1 customer-reported error for every 8,366 message transactions processed.. Almost 100% of our new clients come to us because of problems with their previous answering service.