What are Virtual Receptionists?


Virtual receptionist. You might’ve heard the term before, and it’s not immediately clear what exactly they are or what purpose they serve. Are they robots? Do they sit in the corner of your office, beeping like the Jetsons’ robot maid? (No.) If you don’t know what a virtual receptionist is, why would you hire their services for your business? In the very simplest terms, virtual receptionists answer your phones remotely. But there’s so, so much more. We’re here to clear all of that up for you: we’ll explain what a virtual receptionist is, what they can do for your business (a lot!), and why it’s important that every phone call that comes in to your business gets answered.

What are they?

Virtual receptionists are meticulously trained, always-available customer service experts! They do everything a traditional in-house receptionist does, but there’s dozens of them, often available around the clock. Basically, you’ve got the capabilities of a regular old receptionist multiplied a few dozen times with none of the recruiting or hiring headaches.

If you can’t afford to hire a receptionist and find yourself using up valuable time dealing with phone calls, virtual receptionists are the perfect solution. A virtual receptionist is anything you want it to be.

What do they do?

Here’s just a few of the tasks virtual receptionists handle for clients, all while sounding just like a part of their business:

Answering FAQs: Businesses ranging from doctor’s offices to martial arts instructors to landscapers use virtual receptionists to answer calls asking for business hours, addresses, and all sorts of other simple questions, saving them time to focus on their work.

Taking messages: A virtual receptionist’s bread and butter. They’ll answer the call however you want, take down the caller’s information and message, then forward the information to you so you won’t miss any important details.

Collect leads: When you get a call from an interested party, your virtual receptionist will collect all lead information so you can keep track of callers and follow up as you see fit. If you’ve got a CRM or other customer database already in place, your virtual receptionist can easily update those with lead information as well.

Scheduling appointments: Virtual receptionists can usually work with any scheduling software you have in place. They can take calls from clients and schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments as needed for any kind of business.

Processing orders: Any kind of orders! From e-commerce phone orders to maintenance requests to outage reports during a natural disaster, virtual receptionists are up to the task.

After-hours support: Using virtual receptionists gives you the confidence that whoever calls you reaches a real person every time—never a voicemail box. Let your virtual receptionists take as few or as many calls as you’d like: all day, just after-hours, weekends and holidays, or any combination of those.

Live transfers: Maybe you want a chance to see who’s calling, then decide if you want to answer personally or let a virtual receptionist handle it. Live call transfer makes that possible. Calls ring to you first, then to a virtual receptionist after a few rings if you don’t answer. The opposite is also possible: Virtual receptionists can answer every call, then place the caller on a brief hold while they contact you, ask if you’d like to take the call, then forward the caller right to you. Either way, you’re in control.

Why does it matter?

This might seem like a lot of effort to ensure every phone call gets answered. With the Internet in everyone’s pocket, who even calls businesses anymore, right? What’s a missed call every now and then, right? Wrong. Wrong!! Don’t forget: you really never know who’s on the end of that phone call. It might just be your new biggest client, and every missed call is a missed opportunity. You’ve probably heard that before, but we wouldn’t repeat it if it wasn’t true.

The ever-increasing accessibility of the internet has actually increased phone traffic to businesses, because it’s easier today for an interested consumer to conduct a search with a few taps on a keyboard and find them. This makes both you and your competitors easier to find, so if you don’t answer the first time, they’ll probably call someone else before giving you another shot. You can’t afford this, since customers who call have a higher intent to take action, according to a 2017 report by Forrester. In fact, customers who reach out by phone are more valuable clients overall: “Interested parties who initiate inbound calls tend to convert 30% faster, spend an average of 28% more, and keep a retention rate 28% higher than those who engage strictly through other channels.”

The point is that answering every call matters now more than ever, and there often aren’t hours in the day to make certain of that in the midst of everything else involved in running your business.  In-house receptionists are expensive. Virtual receptionists are affordable, always available, and trained to consistently deliver your business’s message exactly how you want.

Photo via Shutterstock

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