Answer1 and Abby Connect are both companies offering virtual receptionist services to small to medium-sized businesses. With close to 200 employees, Answer1 operates more like a busy call center than a virtual receptionist firm. Abby Connect's "family-style culture" has endured 13+ years and remains first and foremost when servicing customers and employees alike.
DEAR ABBY: Do you know anything about virtual receptionists? I’ve been researching different virtual receptionist services for a while now. I’m trying to decide between Answer1 and Abby Connect. Both have great online reviews from Consumer Affairs and I don’t know which one to pick. Do you have any advice for me? – Conflicted Consumer
DEAR CONFLICTED CONSUMER: I know a lot about virtual receptionists and answering services. I looked into both Answer1 and Abby Connect and I found a few key differences between the two companies.
Abby Connect gives their customers a dedicated team of 5 receptionists, unless you are on extended hours or 24/7 answering, which allows their clients to get to know their receptionists and build a relationship with their team. Answer1 does not give their customers a dedicated receptionist team meaning most or all of their receptionists are answering your calls. By having different people answer your phones each time, your clients are less likely to know their receptionists and build a relationship with them.
When it comes to free trials, Abby Connect, rated #1 in virtual receptionist and answering services by Clutch.co, offers a 14-day, risk-free virtual receptionist trial, so you could experience the service their team provides. They do not ask for credit card information or any sort of payment during those 14 days. Answer1 has a 21-day money back guarantee where they ask for you to pay the first and last month up front in addition to your setup fee. In researching Answer1's reviews, I came across some conflicts customers had with the guarantee.
While some of their reviews online found Answer1 to be great for their business, there were some discrepancies that stood out. Stefanie Voss on Facebook wrote, “If you are considering hiring this company please consider using a different one with more integrity. I know that businesses need to be smart with their money, but it is not fair to treat customers terribly who choose to part ways with the company. I am a volunteer of an organization who choose to hire this answering service, after one week it was determined the service was not able to meet our needs. The monthly plan we signed up for was $200. After some discrepancies about the charges we paid them another $200. Now that our satisfaction no longer matters they are squeezing our non-profit for another $1000.”
Mary E. Farland on Facebook stated, “Answer 1 went back on their promise of a "free trial" period and has ripped $400 from our account. We are a not-for-profit and don't have any extra money. They quoted us $150 a month and without notice took $400 from our account and want $1000 more!” Abby Connect has reviews on Clutch, Consumer Affairs, and other review websites where customers praise them for their service and the positive impact on their businesses.
I also looked into Answer1’s open-ended fees where it states on their terms and conditions page, "(a) Answer 1 charges a holiday related fee for the United States Federal holidays. (b) Answer 1 reserves the right to charge $2.50 per minute for maintenance, programming, coding, software development, general technology services, and telephony services and troubleshooting. (c) Additional fees may apply, including but not limited to fees & costs relating to the additional training and coaching of Answer 1 employees in connection to new, enhanced, upgraded, or revised Client products or services, and / or material changes to call handling process or scripts." Answer1 also requires users to pay a one-time set-up fee of $90. Abby Connect only requires a one-time setup fee of $95 with no hidden fees.
Answer1 employees have reported being unhappy about changes that have occurred as the company has grown. A former employee on Glassdoor stated, “Too many clients, not enough employees. New owner went really aggressive in acquiring new clients and not either paying current employees more or hiring more people to help. Very small for the business needs, never receiving pay raises upon advancing in higher level calls, owners disconnected from entry lvl employees. Not being able to use the restroom. Schedules are atrocious, if you like stability, do not work here.” If Answer1’s ownership doesn’t pay attention to their entry level employees, will they pay attention to your account and its needs?
On Glassdoor, Abby Connect is highly ranked and recommended to work at by current and former employees.
I hope this information helps you in your search for a virtual receptionist and/or answering services. Let us know if you have any additional questions.
*Information verified as of March 2019.