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What is a Virtual Receptionist?

Has your business ever struggled with high call volume? Or maybe you feel as if there’s not enough employees to answer customer/client calls throughout the day. Well, this is a very common challenge for all types of businesses today! More and more companies are taking advantage of virtual receptionists, so they can make sure no call goes unanswered and that they are providing the best customer service possible.

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is a commonly utilized customer service tool for businesses of all sizes. Sometimes, a “virtual receptionist” refers to a remote live agent that works as part of a phone answering service for your company. But more commonly, a virtual receptionist is an automated, interactive voice technology built into your business phone system that answers and addresses customer calls. Many businesses today are using virtual receptionists aka “auto attendants” as part of their VoIP phone system. This allows them to provide customized, interactive customer service assistance to inbound callers, without needing to hire an entire back-end staff or answer each call themselves.

How Does it Work?

Essentially, a virtual receptionist is a form of automated voice technology that is designed to respond to customer questions over the phone. When a customer calls your business, the auto attendant will answer the call and provide a “voice menu” to the caller. 

Depending on the way you customize this menu, the virtual receptionist can either troubleshoot and answer the caller’s questions on the spot, or transfer the call to the correct area. You can also program the auto attendant to prompt a voicemail or take a message, so that your on-site team can stay busy while the virtual receptionist does the customer service work.

Virtual Receptionist Tasks

Nowadays, virtual receptionists are capable of handling a wide variety of customer service tasks with advanced automated, interactive technology. While some businesses still see the need to use a real agent answering service, many companies are now doing away with in-person operators to save money without compromising quality. When answering calls on behalf of your company, a virtual receptionist can be customized to handle the following tasks, and more.

  • Appointment setting
  • Order processing
  • Collect lead information
  • IT and tech help
  • Answering account questions
  • Call transferring 
  • Integrated messaging and notifications
  • Call reporting and analytics

The best part is that for most VoIP phone services today, the auto attendant feature is included at no additional cost. This means instead of hiring an in-person receptionist or team of receptionists to answer calls, you will have a 24-7 employee that provides consistent and excellent customer service. You can also integrate your virtual receptionist with email, CRM, voicemail, text, and more, so you can receive notifications wherever you prefer. 

Small, Medium, and Large Business Solutions

Many people think that virtual receptionists are only needed for large businesses who deal with high call volume regularly. But this is not the case! Virtual receptionists offer robust benefits to businesses of all types and sizes, including:

  • Cost-efficiency and payroll reduction
  • Around the clock customer service 
  • Flexibility and customization
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Vast Time savings
  • Ease of use

Virtual receptionists also offer specific benefits to small, medium, and large businesses. Consider some of these common challenges faced by small, medium, and large businesses and how virtual receptionists solve them.

Small Businesses

Solo businesses and small businesses have to figure out how to handle customer calls while juggling their everyday tasks. Many small businesses don’t have the budget to hire a full-time receptionist but still need to provide great customer service to retain customers and clients. A virtual receptionist is the perfect option, so you can focus on running your business and take care of calls at the same time.

Medium Businesses

Medium businesses may have a full-time receptionist already, but need a back-up plan for high call volume, vacations, breaks, after hours calls, and more. Instead of hiring additional receptionists, a virtual receptionist can handle calls when your receptionist can’t be there. At the same time, it keeps costs down and avoids adding salaries onto your payroll.

Large Businesses

Many large businesses deal with heavy call volume on a regular basis. A virtual receptionist comes in handy by providing an automated voice menu to help navigate customers to the correct department. Oftentimes, larger companies will use auto attendants to direct calls to their main receptionists. Other times, a virtual receptionist can help large companies avoid unnecessary payroll costs and provide quick and easy customer service solutions to customers.

Is it Time to Use a Virtual Receptionist?

There are several common signs that indicate it’s time to use a virtual receptionist. Before you rule out the choice to use an automated customer service solution, keep in mind that they provide huge benefits to businesses. Here are some common reasons to consider using a virtual receptionist.

1. You frequently miss customer/client calls.

If you are dealing with an abundance of missed calls and voicemails, this is a key sign that you need a virtual receptionist. Missing calls can be a huge detriment to growing your business, as most customers become very frustrated when they can’t get a business to answer their call. In fact, 34% of callers don’t call back after their first failed attempt.

2. Customers need help “after hours.”

Even if you have a full-time receptionist, there are likely times when customers need questions answered but can’t get a hold of anyone at your business. And what about when your receptionist goes on lunch break, vacation, or home for the day? A virtual receptionist answers calls 24-7, including holidays, weekends, and more.

3. Your call volume is too heavy to handle.

Sometimes, business leaders think they have the resources in-house to handle inbound calls. But then, call volume increases and suddenly it’s too much to handle without paying hundreds of thousands in additional salaries. If your call volume is becoming too heavy to handle, know that you can utilize a virtual receptionist to help direct calls at a minimal cost.

4. You want to keep your customer service and payroll costs down.

Providing customer service is a must for most businesses today. However, hiring a full-fledged customer service team can really add up in payroll costs. Customer service reps often cost an average of $36,000 per year, plus healthcare benefits, vacation, sick days, and more. On the other hand, you can get a VoIP service with a built-in virtual receptionist for around $20 per month with a slew of other communication benefits.

5. Your on-site team needs to focus more time on internal projects.

Some companies make the mistake of thinking their on-site team can manage customer calls in addition to their workload. However, there are several reasons to avoid this customer service tactic. First of all, your on-site employees will feel overworked when handling customer calls on top of their other projects. Not to mention, they’ll spend less time on said projects, producing lower quality work. 

Secondly, customers will receive less time and attention from on-site employees, who are distracted by their other tasks. The best plan is to use a virtual receptionist to make sure both internal workloads and customer needs are being met.

VoIP Providers with Virtual Receptionists 

Thinking of implementing a virtual receptionist? Luckily, there are tons of VoIP providers today that offer auto attendants as part of their VoIP subscriptions. This means that when you sign up, you typically won’t have to spend any extra on a virtual receptionist service. Here are a few VoIP providers who offer virtual receptionist tools:

We also recommend comparing other key features, in addition to virtual receptionist and auto attendant, in these VoIP providers. This way, you can make sure you are getting all the additional tools you want for your team, included with your subscription price:

If you want to get free quotes on a VoIP service, simply use our free online comparison tool to get started. We connect you with VoIP providers that service your area so you can compare communication systems and virtual receptionist options.

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