There are approximately 1,500 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 third edition, it can be found on Amazon, your local book store, or at 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 (October through December, 2018) was 1 customer-reported error for every 11,034 message transactions processed.. Almost 100% of our new clients come to us because of problems with their previous answering service.

Centratel Answering Service limits itself to just ten vertical markets, including medical, veterinary, HVAC, Home Health and Hospice, funeral home, high tech, property management, business and professional, and front office and receptionist answering service. Centratel answering service serves approximately 1,200 clients. Located in Bend, Oregon, we provide services to clients in every one of the 50 states. There is simple pricing with no hidden fees and no long-term contracts. Is your business or profession one of our answering service specialties?

Other resources: Price Quote page, Case Studies, and What is a Telephone Answering Service?

Price quote request