Nationwide vs. Local Answering Services: Which is Best?

local answering serviceThere are a number of good reasons to shop locally for goods and services. Spending money in your community helps keep dollars in the pockets of your neighbors and stimulates the local economy. Visiting local boutiques and shops can also help you learn more about products and services, allowing you to ask questions and get answers in real time. When it comes to shopping for a new sweater or a favorite coffee blend, shopping locally is indeed the way to go. 

But what about local answering services? While the convenience of a close office location may sound appealing at first, there can be some drawbacks when compared to using a national answering service. If you’re feeling torn between working with a local or nationwide answering service, allow us to run you through the pros and cons.


When it comes to comparing local answering services with national options, quality of service is one of the top considerations. With each new incoming call, there’s an opportunity to connect with customers and make a good first impression on them. Of course, the inverse is possible, too – every time a phone service answers a call, there’s the potential for disaster. 

While quality assurance tools like surveys can help answering service professionals finely tune their offerings, local phone answering services are at a disadvantage when compared to national offerings. Local businesses tend to be smaller, have fewer resources to invest in training their employees, and take longer to implement new strategies. 

When comparing apples to apples, you may want to simply call national and local answering services to see which provides you with better service. Consider how the agent speaks to you, their tone of voice, and how helpful they are in answering your questions. A single conversation can speak volumes about how they’ll eventually treat your callers.  


An answering service’s expertise in a specific industry or product may be the deciding factor in whether you opt to partner with a local or nationwide organization. A national telephone answering service will work to employ a diverse staff of expert professionals with a wide range of experiences. Since these companies work with a large number of clients, they become familiar with a number of industries and their specific vocabularies. This familiarity and versatility comes across in every call they take. Callers feel more at ease speaking with professionals who are confident in their industry.

A local call center company, on the other hand, may be limited in their scope of expertise. While they might be knowledgeable about where to find the best burger in town, local call center workers are often unable to bring true industry expertise to each client they take on. Local answering services may not be able to provide the kind of thorough training that’s frequently offered by national competitors. 

Of course, expertise varies from service to service. If you own a niche business, it’s always worth dialing up your local answering service and asking about their experience. Whether you opt to go local or partner with a national service, you’ll want to select the company that knows the most about your industry. 


Reliability is another major factor to consider when weighing local versus national answering services. Natural disasters and weather emergencies often result in power outages and office closures, disrupting the coverage you might receive from a local call center company. If you lose power, odds are that they will, too, leaving you high and dry when it comes to communicating with customers.

With a nationwide answering service, you’ll never have to worry about emergencies disrupting coverage. Some national call centers have multiple locations with system backups and redundancies built in to weather any storm. This kind of reliability is one of the biggest advantages nationwide services have over local options. 


local telephone answering service

For many business owners, the decision to partner with a local phone answering service versus a nationwide option boils down to pricing. When budgets are tight, every penny counts. The cost of a phone answering service is tied directly to the cost of production. If you’re located in an area with a high cost of living, your local answering service will have to pay their employees more – they do so by passing the cost onto you. Partnering with a national answering service may mean lower prices overall.

You may find our recent research on answering service pricing helpful as you compare offerings. Understanding the differences between per minute pricing, per call pricing, and per unit billing can clarify your options and ensure you’re making the smart decision. Contracts, activation fees, holiday fees, and other hidden costs should all be accounted for before you decide to go with a nationwide answering service versus a local one. 

Benefits of Partnering with a Nationwide Answering Service

As we’ve detailed above, the decision to partner with a nationwide answering service comes with many benefits. You’ll be treated to more robust service offerings, including highly trained professional virtual receptionists and call center agents. Should call volume spike beyond staffing levels, calls can be routed to a call center that’s not as busy.

Flexibility is another key benefit of working with a nationwide call answering service in the USA. National companies often feature a number of different service plans for clients of all budgets. This allows you to boost coverage during your busy season, cut back during slower months, and turn call handling on or off at whim. That’s something smaller, local companies can’t always afford to do. 

Many nationwide answering services can also offer 24 hour coverage – something smaller, local services can’t match. In today’s 24/7 economy, waiting for traditional business hours to complete a transaction is enough to send people running for your competition. A larger service means more staff, shorter hold times for callers, and round the clock coverage for businesses in all industries.

Limitations of Local Answering Services

While familiarity with your region might sound appealing, local answering service employees may have limited experience working within your specific industry. Industry experience is vital for clear communications with customers. If call center workers aren’t familiar with the services your plumbing business offers, for instance, they’ll have trouble communicating options to callers. 

Local answering services may also cost more than nationwide options. This is especially true if you live in a high cost of living area. Odds are good that local services will be less flexible in their coverage options, too. If you’re looking to switch up your coverage, altering your service plan may be a challenge. 

Customization options may be limited when working with a local provider too. Often, smaller answering services are restricted in what they can and can’t do for their clients. If all you need is a very basic name/number/message setup, they can probably do that for you. However, if you have any advanced requirements or would like your account customized to a certain degree, you should probably look at some nationwide providers with those capabilities.

Reliability is another consideration to factor into your decision to partner with a local service. If your power goes out, will the coverage offered by a local call center also go down? In an emergency, will your customers be able to get in touch with your organization? All it takes is one big storm to wipe out your customer service plan for weeks at a time. Can your business afford to take that kind of hit? 

Try MAP’s Live Answering Service for Free 

When hunting for the right administrative partners for your business, it’s important to have all the facts. By conducting thorough market research into the best options available, you’ll have the details you need to make the right choice for your organization. While local answering services might be useful in some circumstances, we believe MAP’s nationwide offerings give us a significant advantage in helping businesses thrive. 

The best way to decide between a local answering service and a national one is to try them for yourself. That’s why we offer a free trial for anyone interested in our nationwide services. For seven days, you’ll be privy to all the benefits of a partnership with a leading answering service in the USA.

Here are some related articles you might be interested in:

How a Virtual Receptionist Improves Customer Connections

Eight Qualities and Skills to Look For in a Great Receptionist

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Phone Etiquette