Your Guide To Virtual Receptionists: Who They Are & What They Can Do For Your Business
Many clients tell us that they thought about working with a virtual receptionist service for quite a while before they decided to reach out to us. Sometimes they weren’t sure what a virtual receptionist actually is, or if their business would really benefit from working with one.
If you haven’t worked with a virtual receptionist before, you might feel the same way.
And, if you’re like many business owners, you may be worried about customers who are complaining about long hold times or who are simply hanging up. You may know that you’re missing calls while doing other tasks and wonder if you’re losing business opportunities. Or, you may be tired, literally, from losing sleep over after-hours calls that must be answered in case of an emergency.
You may also be thinking that there just has to be a way to run your business more efficiently, without needing to hire another full-time in-house employee.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you’re on the right track by researching what a virtual receptionist can do for you. Let’s dig into some basics:
What Is A Virtual Receptionist, Anyway?
It’s not uncommon for people to think that a virtual receptionist might be something like Siri, but a virtual receptionist is actually a professionally-trained person, just like an in-house receptionist would be. Unlike in-house receptionists, however, virtual receptionists work remotely, ideally at an answering service facility that has the staffing and technology to support high call volumes.
What Can You Delegate To A Virtual Receptionist?
Virtual receptionists are capable of so much more than answering calls and taking messages, although those are important tasks. A virtual assistant can take on much more than many people realize, and when you take advantage of all the ways a virtual receptionist can help you run your business, you’ll be more productive and better organized.
Virtual receptionists with a live answering service are specifically trained to:
- Answer all calls promptly, either during peak times, after hours, on an as-needed basis, or 24/7 around the clock
- Act as an extension of a business by providing customer service support and answering FAQs
- Capture and nurture leads
- Receive and reply to emails
- Schedule appointments
- Take reservations for seminars, workshops, or events
- Enter orders and keep up with order fulfillment
- Support data entry by updating customer records, creating reports, and CRM management
- Screen job applicants
- Provide backup during disaster recovery
- Track and report call trends
- Remind staff of upcoming events at a set time
- Return RSVPs and reply to invitations or solicitations
Businesses of all sizes across every industry are taking advantage of the benefits virtual receptionists can bring to their teams. For example, medical or healthcare practices, service providers, legal firms, real estate professionals, entrepreneurs, colleges and universities, and funeral homes are some of the industries that commonly use answering services today to attend to their clients and help them grow revenue.
How Much Do Virtual Receptionists Cost?
You may be surprised to learn that hiring a virtual receptionist typically costs substantially less than hiring an in-house staff member to do the same job, as we explored in How Businesses Can Save $30K By Hiring A Virtual Receptionist
Hiring a virtual receptionist is a substantial cost-savings solution for businesses compared to hiring an in-house staff member in part because you don’t have to pay benefits or for office expenses like phone, internet, computer, office supplies, and rent.
With the virtual receptionists at an answering service, you’ll have access to the answering service’s advanced technology and professionally trained staff—and you won’t need to purchase or install any costly equipment of your own.
With the advanced technology and trained staff of a call center managing your communication needs, your business avoids missing calls and business opportunities or mishandling caller’s information. Ultimately, this level of consistent and dedicated customer service improves your customer acquisition and retention rates, not to mention your reputation.
You can also hire a virtual receptionist for specific hours to match your call volume and to fit your budget. You can also have virtual receptionists help during busy times when there are extra calls, staff meetings, or time-intensive projects that need specialized attention.
You can also have virtual receptionists answer calls after business hours, relieving on-call staff members from answering unnecessary calls. The virtual receptionists at an answering service will know a business well enough to judge if a call is of an urgent nature or not. For example, a live answering service will know to notify an on-call physician when a call comes in with a patient in distress, but won’t forward calls about directions to the physician’s office or rescheduling an appointment.
Or, you can hire virtual receptionists to manage all your calls around-the-clock, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Customers get 24/7 support from trained professionals and your customers’ calls don’t go unanswered, which means you’re much less likely to miss business opportunities. You’ll get consistent help from a team without the worry of employee absence, expenses, or turn-over.
How Do I Find The Right Virtual Receptionist?
There are many solo virtual receptionists who take out an ad online, and some of them may be great at what they do. However, be sure to understand where a virtual receptionist is working and how that may hinder or help them, not to mention how it will affect your callers.
For example, if your virtual receptionist works from home will your customers hear dogs, kids, or doorbells in the background when they call? Or, if your virtual receptionist works for other businesses in addition to yours how does he or she plan to juggle the call volume and keep the different customers straight?
You’ll also need to know what technology the virtual receptionist is using to answer your calls, including how they securely record and backup data and what tools they have to integrate with and manage your schedule.
You should also list any certifications a virtual assistant would need to have for your industry. For example, if you work in the healthcare industry the virtual receptionists must be regularly trained to be HIPAA-compliant.
Virtual receptionists answering for legal firms must be trained for client confidentiality. For both medical and legal industries, as well as others that need to protect client information, virtual receptionists must have securely encrypted technology to protect client data.
You should also know what the receptionists’ backup plans are if they aren’t able to answer a call. This is the advantage of working with receptionists at answering services or call centers. With these facilities, you have a team of virtual assistants on your side so that calls will not be missed just because one receptionist is on another call or away from the desk.
The key takeaway is that if you are spending more time supporting your business than building it, then it’s time to consider hiring a virtual receptionist. The most successful businesses are recognizing that providing better customer care is an opportunity, not an unnecessary cost. It’s an investment that not only retains current customers but also generates good reviews and customer loyalty, as well as bringing in new customers who are seeking a better experience than they’ve had elsewhere.
Studies have shown that increasing customer retention rates by as much as 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25-95%. Plus, after having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend the business to a friend. Consistent, professional customer service is how the most successful businesses differentiate themselves from their competition.
The virtual receptionists at Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. have earned an 82% referral rate, thanks to our customized communication solutions, secure messaging, and appointment scheduling services that save our clients time and money while increasing customer loyalty.
Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. offers month-to-month service agreements to meet your unique needs, with no hidden fees. Our professional virtual receptionists along with our excellent reputation and state-of-the-art technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.