Grayson Kemper, Content Developer and Marketer for Clutch, examines the history of answering services and where it might be headed in the future in the following article.
Looking back twenty or thirty years, most industries would barely recognize themselves. Advancements in technology over that span (small things like development of the internet) have fundamentally transformed nearly every aspect of the industrial makeup of our economy.
For the answering services industry, though, the differences would be lost on many. In the 80's and 90's, automated phone answering services defined the answering services industry. According to research from Clutch, a B2B research firm, that paradigm has yet to change. Over half of businesses today that use answering services still employ some form of automated answering service, whether it be an auto attendant, interactive voice response, or traditional voicemail system.
While there have been significant developments in telephonic technology, like PBX and VOiP, which leverage internet connectivity to provide phone and voice-over services, these softwares do not necessarily qualify as answering services.
That’s also not to say there have been no advancements in the industry over that time. New and innovative services have emerged, like live virtual receptionists and internet-platform answering services, and have made significant headway in the answering services market. Internet-platform services in particular, provide software to manage digital communications, including email, social media, and live chat. However, each of these forms of service are only used by about 25% of businesses that use answering services.
Part of the reason why more traditional forms of answering services still dominate the market actually has a technical basis. Eric Schurke, Director of Operations for VoiceNation, explains how many answering service providers are essentially boxed in to only providing their current suite of offerings, thus the majority of offerings on the market remain a form of automated service.
"There’s about 3 or 4 major providers of live answering service software. It’s a 6 figure startup cost - anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 just for maybe 10 licenses," Schurke said. "So now you’ve got these answering services that are financially committed and have a mortgage to these companies for their licenses."
These massive licensing fees, act as a sort of internal barrier to entry in which providers cannot afford to develop or contract more technically innovative platforms, from which they could provide or develop a more innovative suite of services. Faced with barriers such as these, companies like VoiceNation have developed their own software platform before entering the live-answering market market. While this maneuver requires a hefty initial investment, the long-term flexibility it provides a roadmap for future success and much more flexibility to adapt to a changing communications and technological landscape.
If more providers follow this sort of model, or find other means to innovate within the answering services ecosystem, it is doubtful that we find ourselves in the same position as we are now in twenty or thirty years.
About Grayson Kemper:
Grayson Kemper is a Content Developer and Marketer for Clutch. He focuses on telecom and enterprise mobility solutions.
Clutch is a B2B research and review firm for SMBs. Based in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch provides a platform where buyers of technology services can compare and review vendors for their specific area of need.
Published: Monday, March 13, 2017
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