Flat Rate Vs. Usage Rate

Usage Based Billing

Usage based billing is the easiest and most efficient way to spend your dollar with a call center; especially if many of your calls generate revenue.
With AnswerFirst you pay a low base rate each billing cycle, much like an access fee.
The base rate provides 24/7 access to our agents, a unique nationwide toll-free number and an unlimited web portal through which instantaneous account information is available.

The low base rate is your only financial commitment; after that you pay-as-you-go and only for what you actually use.
Our per-minute rate is billed in one second increments (no rounding to the next minute). Since we bill all of your usage in arrears, you don’t have to try to determine how many calls or minutes you’ll need to use each month and there is never any reason to worry about changing your rate plan or plan size. Our usage-based billing method also eliminates concerns about paying for unused calls or minutes and there are also never any unexpected “overage” fees.

Flat Rate Billing

Most call plans require you to buy a pre-packaged bundle of calls or minutes.  The primary advantage is that you know what your monthly bill will be as long as you don’t go over the amount allotted.

If a call is a bit longer than normal on a pay-per-call plan, it works out in your favor, but for any short calls (hang-ups, wrong numbers, solicitor calls, etc.), you end up paying full price for a very short call. No call center can stop wrong numbers or calls from solicitors or vendors. No one likes paying full price for a call not even intended or wanted by your company. There are also calls from your clients who sometimes will not leave a message if they find out you are not available and these calls can be very short in length as well.

Call plans are generally sold in “packages” or “blocks” of calls or minutes where the more you buy, the less expensive each call becomes.
This means you have to pull out your crystal ball and figure out how many calls you are going to get and how long they will last. It is very important you have reliable data to back up the size of the package you choose. Choosing a 100 calls / minutes plan and then only using 25 calls is obviously not desirable. And, if you don’t use them, they usually don’t roll over. Businesses that are seasonal in nature can have an especially difficult time with these types of rates. An HVAC company coming into the busy winter months or the even busier summer months must choose the size of the package very carefully. Misjudge and you will be paying much more for the service than needed. Unfortunately, most answering services charge an “overage” fee which is typically at a higher rate than the package amount, so just choosing a small package is not always a solution.

Also, call plans usually require you to pay for the entire package of calls before the first call is answered.
Pre-paying for your calls does not provide motivation to the call center to actually answer your calls, they have already been paid for the package of calls and it is somewhat irrelevant how quickly they answer your calls. Technically, they are still getting paid for the package of calls whether they actually answer your calls quickly, make your caller wait for long periods in a hold queue or even answer the call at all.

It is wise with call plans to determine exactly what a call or a minute is defined as.
Is it only for inbound calls or both inbound and outbound calls? If a call center is billing you for minutes, do they round up? If the call center e-mails or text messages your message to you, are these considered calls? What about a fax? Is that a call? Knowing the exact definition of “a call” is paramount to understanding what you will be billed. A low rate per call can quickly become very expensive if everything is considered a call (inbound calls, outbound calls, e-mails, faxes, text messages, digital paging, alpha pages, etc.)

Looking for more information?

Contact us today at 1-800-645-2616 or fill out our online request for more information and we’ll send you our pricing and plans packet today!