Virtual receptionists are primarily a telephone answering service, although depending on the service, they can also complete admin tasks. More and more business owners are considering virtual receptionists instead of traditional receptionists for the cost-saving benefits that they bring to their companies.
However, for some other new start-up owners and entrepreneurs, the phrase “virtual receptionist” can be misleading. They may consider that a “virtual receptionist” is the same as an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that provides information via pre-recorded messages, which is wrong. This misunderstanding is due to the two different meanings of the term “virtual”. First, it refers to “something created by computer technology that does not exist in the physical world”. Secondly, it indicates “something that is so nearly true that for most purposes it can be regarded as true”. When it comes to virtual receptionists, the second definition is appropriate, because they operate as if they were traditional receptionists (employees hired directly by a company) even if they work for an outsourcing provider.
How Does A Virtual Receptionist Work – 5 Key Questions & Answers For Business Owners
- Who is a virtual receptionist?
As it was mentioned previously, a virtual receptionist is not an automated phone service, but a real person who handles phone calls on behalf of a company. The only difference is that they don’t work directly for that company but for an outsourcing provider that prepares and trains them in order to answer customers’ questions according to the specifications of the business owner. In other words, a virtual receptionist is a professional agent who answers phone calls and ensures a personalised customer service experience. Most of the time, they are trained to take messages, schedule appointments, process orders for e-commerce businesses, and update the personal customer database with lead information.
2. What are the top-features to look for in a virtual receptionist service?
There are several top-features to look for in a virtual receptionist service. Some of the most important are the following: operating hours (some of them can be available 24/7 if needed), additional services (such as live transfers – the calls can be redirected from a business owner to the virtual receptionist and vice versa – or calls recording and statistics), language assistance (bilingual agents for non-English speaking customers), and sound quality (the virtual receptionist provider should use a high-quality noise cancellation system). And, of course, the most obvious top-feature to look for in a virtual receptionist is professionalism: they must be eloquent, trustworthy, and extremely professional.
3. When does a business need a virtual receptionist?
A business may need a virtual receptionist when the company does not have thousands of customers (for large companies, other telephone answering services are more appropriate – for example, IVRs or Call Centres) and wants to offer a professional and personalised customer service experience. Also, a virtual receptionist may be necessary when a start-up begins to grow and a business owner cannot answer phone calls anymore (first, because this means spending most of the day answering phone calls instead of focusing on other business activities. Secondly, because a business where the owner handles phone calls by himself/herself might not have a professional and trustworthy image – not to mention that they may miss a phone call or answer them while being in a place with a lot of background noise).
4. Where can a business find a virtual receptionist?
A business can get a virtual receptionist as a separate service (from a company that offers virtual receptionist services) or a service included in a wide range of services provided by a virtual office (a virtual office is an office that relies on modern technology to provide the same benefits as a traditional office but without overhead costs). Business owners should decide whether they need a virtual receptionist as a separate service or a service included in a virtual office package according to their business models. For example, if a company has a physical office, the owner can get a virtual receptionist as a separate service. But if a business owner runs an online business and does not have an office at all or he or she wants to find a more affordable alternative to a physical office, then choosing a virtual receptionist as a service included in a virtual office can be the best business choice.
5. Why does a business need a virtual receptionist?
The main reason why a business needs a professional virtual receptionist as an alternative to a traditional receptionist is to reduce high employee costs. Hiring a traditional receptionist involves recruiting and training costs, salary costs, payroll taxes, incentives, and more. Therefore, virtual receptionist providers can save a business time and money, since they provide high-quality services at a low-cost. Most of them offer various packages that adjust according to the number of calls that are included. Typically, the packages include a specific number of calls per month and a fixed price for each additional phone call handled by the virtual receptionist.
In conclusion, virtual receptionists can bring various benefits to start-ups, small, and mid-size businesses and they are a valid alternative to traditional receptionists. Getting a virtual receptionist means saving time and money and, as a result, the chances of a business to grow and be more productive can significantly increase.
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