Virtual receptionist pricing: what different providers charge

How much does a virtual receptionist solution cost?

Answering this question can be tricky. Different providers not only charge different rates, but have unique pricing structures, plans, and billing models. On top of that, each solution offers its own mix of features— not all of which may be included in advertised rates. And then there’s the possibility of additional fees, which some providers bury within their fine print.

Let’s break down how pricing works, so you can understand what you’re paying for and avoid hidden fees.

Understanding virtual receptionist rates

Most virtual receptionist providers charge one of two ways: per minute or per call.

Per-minute pricing means you pay for the time receptionists spend assisting your business. There are three typical kinds of per-minute billing structures. To understand how they compare, consider the difference in how these structures calculate the cost of a call lasting 1:12 (one minute and 12 seconds):

  • True to the second: You pay for every second a receptionist spends on a call—no rounding involved.*
  • 30-second increments: Each call is charged in multiples of 30 seconds, rounded up to the nearest increment.
  • 60-second increments: Each call is charged in multiples of 60 seconds (one minute), rounded up to the nearest minute.

Per-call pricing means you pay a base rate per call. This type of billing structure can be attractive to businesses with callers who need to spend extended time on the phone, but quickly adds up for businesses that receive large volumes of calls with varying lengths.

Tip: Be careful with providers that advertise low per-call rates. These rates often conceal long lists of additional fees you’ll be charged based on the services receptionists perform on each call. For instance, you might end up paying more for every call that involves transferring, scheduling, or message-taking.

Avoiding additional and hidden fees

Keep in mind many providers charge multiple fees on top of their base per-minute or per-call rates. These providers often market themselves as low-cost “answering services” and saddle customers with separate costs for basic capabilities such as call transfers. Think of an answering service as a motel that charges for every amenity, and a virtual receptionist solution as an all-inclusive hotel.

Additional and hidden fees that many providers charge include, but are not limited to…

  • Setup or activation fees for new customers
  • Holiday fees, which raise prices for service on holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Service fees, which can cover many different aspects of a receptionist’s work:
    • 24/7 answering
    • Call transfers
    • Multiple transfer destinations
    • Complex call routing
    • Bilingual service
    • Scheduling and conflict checks
    • Lead capture and intake
    • Local and toll-free numbers
    • Voicemail service
    • Porting numbers to/from the provider
    • CRM integrations
    • Mobile app access
    • Caller ID selection for calls and/or texts
    • Accepting payments

Thinking about using a virtual receptionist solution for your business but aren’t sure which option to choose? Check out the next article.