What is the Difference Between an Answering Service and a Telephone Call Centre?

Looking for some extra help with your business? If you are looking into answering services as well as seeing adverts for telephone call centres, you may be wondering if there is a difference.

Yes, there are differences within the two. The main difference is the direction the calls are flowing; The answering service answers incoming calls for other businesses, and the call centre mostly has outgoing calls. However, there are also several similarities between them, as well.

There are services that can offer both, but how can you find the best service for your business? Depending on what business sector you are in and what type of service you need, will determine which service is best for you.

Let’s take a closer look the difference between the two and what services they offer to give you an expert view when its time for you to choose.

Answering Services

The answering service is a company where you can direct your business calls. This is a great idea for people who are looking to downsize their office, people who have a start-up or are running a small business. As well as companies who are looking for expert customer service for the customers.

A lot of business is still done over the phone and when you are a one-person company, it’s hard to be everywhere at once. Hiring an answering service frees your time to run the company and let the professionals pick up the phone instead.

Benefits of an Answering Service

There are tremendous benefits for both you and your business. You may find implementing an Answering Service not only benefits your work life but your home life too!.


The potential savings on cost are a big bonus for business looking to tighten their bottom line. Yes, having your own receptionist can be great, but they require a space, even if that office is your garage. They need breaks, insurance is involved and they also need time off. That adds up quickly!

But what if you want 24/7 cover? You now need 2 receptionists each day (at least) and maybe another on standby in case one of the others falls ill. Then there’s breaks to consider, who will answer the calls when your receptionist is away from their desk? Or if they’re on another line? That’s a lot of missed calls which you’re paying your receptionist to handle.

With an Answering Service you have no admin to worry about, no rotas to consider and you only pay for the calls that are taken for you. So if your call volumes drop, you’re not paying for someone to wait for the phone to ring.

You end up with 24/7 coverage in a much more cost effective way.

No Missed Calls

If you offer a service where people need to call you to book appointments for the service you provide, you need to make sure you can do your job and be available to book in the next call at the same time.

The answering service gives you coverage for whatever hours and time frame you need, some will even give you 24/7 cover as standard. Their agents take the call and book in the appointment for you, meaning you never miss a potential client or revenue. Plus, making sure your calls are answered first time round means those new customers don’t try any of your competitors when they can’t get through to you.

The service may be able to integrate with your existing diary management system or you can have them taking a message with the details of the needed appointment for you to then follow up.


Personal Touch

People calling a business are often put off when they reach a voicemail service, even if it is personalised. The answering service will greet customers with your company name and the caller will never know they are in fact speaking to a service.

This is important when people feel like they need to complain or are experiencing an emergency. Getting a real person on the phone can really help calm the caller and de-escalate any situation, keeping your reputation intact.

Telephone Call Centre

The call centre has two main functions. Making outgoing calls and handling incoming.

Incoming Calls

When a customer calls a number placed on a product or service, they usually get a call centre. This is a centralised space where all the orders are taken, payments are processed and complaints are handled.

Inbound calls to the call centre may also be inquiries about the product or complaints. The call centre has all your information for the agent to help your customer.

These centres may not be in the same city as the caller, but they feel like they receive personal customer service anyhow, because the agent is professional and knowledgeable about the company.

Outbound Calls

The agents making outbound calls can have different purposes. They can be made to the existing customer base or be made to find new customers. often called telemarketers, they are effective for finding customers on certain occasions but have a bad reputation for businesses reputation.

These calls are often used for fund-raising purposes, to inform people about an event or can be made to help introduce a new product or service. Agents may also call to inquire about how a customer found their service for marketing purposes.


While the word ‘telemarketer’ tends to leave a bad aftertaste, they can be great for your small business. Reaching out to people can build loyalty and show you care about them as a customer.

Also, when people call the customer service number and actually get professional service, that makes them happy. A happy customer will talk kindly, but the unhappy one will take to the internet.

Two for One

Some larger centres may offer both services, the answering services and the sales calling. If you would benefit from both, ask about packages available for these services.

Often new businesses work with a small budget and spread via word-of-mouth, providing great customer service brings the people in. If you think it is worth the investment, try telemarketing and see how it effects your companies network of customers.

Answering services may offer outbound calling for certain services, but many may not offer any level of cold calling or sales calls for you. Answering Services do tend to focus on helping you handle the volume of your incoming calls and give a great service to both you and your callers.

Call Us!

It’s a good sign that business is going so well that you can no longer handle the volume of calls yourself. Or, you have reached the point where you think a dedicated Answering Service will be able to help your customer experience.

Whether you need a survey done, or a dedicated service, you can find the professional staff to handle all of that for you. If you need to take a day out or are booked solid for a few days, send your calls to the answering service.

We are here to help you with all your telephone needs, and more. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.