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Virtual Assistant vs. Answering Service: Which Is Right for You? - A Better Answer - Blog

Virtual Assistant vs. Answering Service: Which Is Right for You?

So you’ve finally decided to upgrade your customer service? Good choice, and congratulations!

That means your business is growing and you need more help.

When it comes to building a customer service team, there are many options. If you’ve chosen to forego hiring an in-house team member, two other options are hiring a virtual assistant or an answering service. Both solutions have their own set of pros and cons.

In the end, choose the option best for your business and your customers.

Key factors to consider when weighing the options of hiring a virtual assistant or an answering service to improve your customer service experience.

Determine Your Customer Service Needs

Before you decide between hiring a virtual assistant or an answering service, you must first understand your customer service needs.

Do you have an influx of calls you can’t handle right now? Do you need help cold calling and following up with leads? Maybe you require team members to have a specialized skill set.

Figuring out your business needs will help you better serve your customers. When your customers are happy, your business will grow.

Other factors to consider before hiring customer service help are:

  • How many inbound calls do you get per day?
  • Will you need someone who is bilingual?
  • Are you looking to implement automated messages?
  • Does your industry require specific knowledge and training?
  • Are you looking for extra help with mundane tasks? 
  • Do you need 24/7 customer service?

Answering these questions will help you decide what the better answer is for you.

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is an individual or group of people who work closely with your business to provide support in various ways.

First and foremost, a virtual assistant can help with customer service needs such as answering inbound calls and transferring them to the correct department. This is similar to what answering services do — but they also do much more.

Typically, virtual assistants are used on a smaller scale for smaller companies and work the same hours your company does.

VAs tend to be more integrated into your business processes than answering services. They will be trained as an in-house hire to learn your systems, processes and tasks you seek their help to complete.

Virtual assistants can do much more than just answer incoming calls; they act more like personal assistants and have the ability to do almost anything you need.

VAs can provide account updates to clients, schedule meetings with prospects and help with mundane tasks like data entry or updating CRM systems. Virtual assistants also gain more knowledge as they continue to work within your business. They receive ongoing training and act as an extension of your company.

Benefits of a virtual assistant include:

  • Virtually no overhead: Virtual assistants will already have their equipment 
  • Increased productivity and efficiency: VAs are hyper-focused and able to accomplish tasks that your team can’t get to
  • Ability to focus on scaling your business: You’ll get the time-consuming tasks off your plate, enabling you to focus on business development and processes
  • Gain specialty skills missing within your company: Hire a virtual assistant to help with technical questions, marketing, or almost any other niche
  • Hourly rates: You only pay when work is being done and have no additional costs such as health insurance, PTO, or other benefits

What Is an Answering Service?

An answering service provides client-facing call agents to support your business with incoming calls, outgoing calls and transferring calls — similar to traditional receptionist duties. An answering service provides multiple agents, not one person as a virtual assistant solution does.

For the most part, answering service responsibilities stick to phone support, meaning they don’t handle your CRM system, marketing tasks or other duties that a virtual assistant can manage. However, they can answer FAQs and help resolve immediate issues.

Answering services usually charge a monthly or annual retainer based on your needs.

Benefits of answering services include:

  • Cost savings: An answering service cost less than hiring one in-house team member
  • Improve customer acquisition and retention: Always being available to answer questions and concerns will increase sales and customer satisfaction
  • Customize your customer service experience: An answering service will follow your script, guidelines, and brand voice so your customer experience is seamless 
  • 24/7 customer service: Answering services provide support around the clock, even when your office is closed

Choose the Best Solution for Your Needs

Being aware of the differences between a virtual assistant and an answering service will ensure you pick the right choice for your business’ customer service needs.

Remember that an answering service provides a team of support, 24/7 accessibility and can take on all of your phone support needs. A virtual assistant is one person who can help with tasks across the board, like data entry, marketing tasks and updating client information.

Whichever solution you choose to implement, there’s more to consider before doing so. If you opt for a virtual assistant, these are the main qualities to look for in one. If an answering service sounds best for you, we have six questions you need to ask during the interview process.

Publish Date: June 22, 2021

2023 Buyers Guide Automation

1.) Agara

Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.


EVA Voice Biometrics
Powered by Auraya's patented ArmorVox engine, EVA is a voice biometric extension that provides secure and seamless identification & verification capabilities for Amazon Connect. EVA provides delightful customer experience by removing the friction of providing PINs, passwords or secret information in order to prove caller identity. EVA comes standard with active and passive modes and a simple yet powerful agent interface. This allows for personalised self-service and a more friendly and efficient experience when interacting with an agent.

Outdated security methods such as PINs, passwords and security questions have become insecure and unreliable. Forgetting passwords and security answers o...
(read more)

Call Adapt

Soundboard Software
Call Adapt is a cloud-based digital soundboard application designed for contact centers. It works with any type of call and integrates with your existing dialer system. Powered by smart audio technology, Call Adapt gives your agents the ability to converse with customers in real time using programmed keyboard shortcuts. The result is perfect pitch delivery and less time spent on repetitive tasks.


Cognigy is a global leader in Conversational AI Automation. Its platform, Cognigy.AI, enables enterprises to automate customer and employee communications using intelligent voice and chatbots

Consilium Software

Consilium UniCloud™
UniCloud™ is an intuitive platform that allows Enterprises to deploy and manage their Unified Communication (UC) and Contact Center (CC) services with ease and entire provisioning can be completed in seconds using this comprehensive tool supporting digital transformation. The latest release 7.0 of UniCloud™ is a multi-tenant platform that transforms the delivery, management, and integration of collaboration and contact center solutions, for both Cloud and On-Premise deployment models.
With its single-pane-of-glass views and quick provisioning tool, UniCloud™ is instrumental in reducing the time to provision an entire multi-cluster Cisco collaboration platform, including contact centers (C...
(read more)

eGain Corporation

eGain Solve
Proven, Easy, and Guided Journey to Automate Customer Engagement in a Digital+AI World


Automated Language Testing
Emmersion offers automated assessments to quickly and accurately test speaking, writing, and grammar fluency in 9 languages and counting. We help contact centers improve CSAT scores by screening for top talent and retaining top performers.

OpsTel Services

The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Perfor...
(read more)

View more from A Better Answer

Recent Blog Posts:
5 Thoughts You Need To Stop Ignoring When It Comes to Customer ServiceAugust 19, 2021
How To Provide 24/7 Customer Service Without Working Around the ClockJuly 22, 2021
How AI Is Changing the Customer Service SpaceJune 28, 2021
Virtual Assistant vs. Answering Service: Which Is Right for You?June 22, 2021
6 Most Common Call Center Myths DebunkedJune 21, 2021
Live Chat vs. Phone Support: Choosing the Right One for Your BusinessJune 21, 2021
Tips To Help Improve Your Company’s First Call ResolutionMay 30, 2021
The Importance of Stellar Customer Service for E-Commerce BusinessesMay 25, 2021
Growing a Business: Automated Messages vs. Hiring an Answering ServiceMay 21, 2021
5 Benefits of Using an Answering Service for Educational FacilitiesMay 20, 2021

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