What is a Virtual Receptionist?

How do you field phone calls when you’re out of the office or too busy to answer the phone? Do they go to voicemail or get shunted through an automated menu? Your customers aren’t fond of talking to a machine or leaving messages, and many times they simply won’t. If your call volume is more than you can handle, a virtual receptionist is the best choice for your business. Instead of sending people to voicemail or using a simplified answering service, have a live person with your instructions on the other end of your telephone line.

Have a Live Person Answering Your Calls

Most businesses have a receptionist or an office manager who fields incoming calls. When a business starts to grow, more calls come in than the receptionist can handle, leaving your office in a bit of a pickle. While you can let calls go to voicemail, sifting through the messages later can be a difficult task, and you might miss out on a client’s business.

A virtual receptionist is a live person you hire through a virtual receptionist company. This person either works in an on-site office or remotely to answer the calls that come through to your business. They greet the caller with your business’s name, interact with that person professionally, and take down whatever message the person has.

Old answering services, though they used real people, would simply say things like “the office is closed, can I take your message?” Today, virtual receptionists will follow specific instructions about how to answer a call for your business. It presents a professional front, even when you can’t have someone from your physical office fielding that day’s calls.

Get Receptionist Duties Covered Remotely

Your virtual receptionist’s duties might only begin with answering your company’s phone. Virtual receptionists can handle basic calls, such as those inquiring about office hours. If you’re available, the receptionist will connect the call straight to your office phone line. If you need a follow-up call to someone later, like a reminder before an appointment, your virtual receptionist can handle those duties. Virtual receptionists will work with your schedule, too, just like an in-house receptionist would.

Provide More Than an Automated Answering Service

Nobody likes calling a business only to be greeted by a robot with a menu of choices. While this format makes sense for big businesses with lots of departments, people don’t expect to get automated menus when calling small businesses. Choose a virtual receptionist so you don’t lose the human touch, but can still field a higher volume of calls than your staff can currently deal with.

Like an automated answering service, a virtual receptionist can direct callers, and connect them with specific people in your office. Many customers will actually just hang up if they hear a robot voice, and an annoying experience with an automated answering service can cause some people to turn to a different business. You won’t even know that they called or why.

Be Able to Operate a Very Small Business

If you’re bootstrapping a business or running a business with very little staff, a virtual receptionist is perfect for you. Say you’re a lawyer. You don’t always have time to take calls because you’re either in court or preparing for an upcoming case. When these times arise, you use the virtual receptionist to field your calls, then go back to handling your own when you’ve got space in your schedule. You might not want a receptionist in your office, but having one answering the phone gives your business a more professional image.

Say you’re a massage therapist operating out of your own home. You can’t answer the phone while you’re with a client. In fact, you probably don’t even hear the phone because you’ve got your massage room set up in a quiet space with mood music on. Use a virtual receptionist so you don’t miss out on any appointment bookings or possible new clients. When you don’t have clients, you can answer the phone yourself.

Businesses such as retail stores during the holidays or tourism stores during peak tourist season, that get surges of business seasonally, can also use virtual receptionists. During these times of the year, your store probably gets more phone calls than it normally does, and many of those are people wondering if you have a certain item or what time you close. A virtual receptionist can field these calls and take messages so you can focus on interacting with the customers currently in your store.

Offer Better Customer Service

Ultimately, a virtual receptionist allows a business to offer good customer service. Three-quarters of the people who place calls to businesses feel it takes too long to get to a live person on the phone; almost the same number of people will hang up in frustration at either an automated menu or when reaching an answering machine without having talked to a live person. Can you afford to miss out on that possible business? Certainly not if they hang up and phone one of your competitors instead.

Customer service is a big deal, because in a world full of digital contact, people want to know that another human being is on the end of an interaction. A virtual receptionist provides you with an invaluable customer service tool. When people call your business, they get to talk to a live person. Even if they eventually end up leaving a message, it’s the receptionist who takes that message. Knowing the message is in the hands of someone who will give it to the right person in your office, gives customers confidence that you’ll actually get the message and call them back.

Virtual receptionists are contractors for your business, so you don’t have to hire another employee. You use them when you need them, and can confidently step out of the office, handle other business needs, go on vacation, or field a higher volume of calls with a virtual receptionist on your side. The benefits to your business are clear. It’s time for you to get a virtual receptionist.