6 benefits of a virtual receptionist for your business

Whether you own a general store, sell a service like construction estimating, or even have your own law practice, how you spend your time as a business owner is one of the deciding factors of whether you’ll make a success of your company, or struggle.

You have to balance your time between completing projects to deadline, on budget and to a high standard, as well as bringing in new business and staying in touch with your current customers.

If you can’t keep on top of your time, you’ll quickly get bogged down in admin and tasks that take away from the things that pay the bills.

One thing that can easily get lost during a busy day is being able to answer the phone.

This can be fatal for your business.

Not answering the phone to a potential new customer can easily lose you a sale.

Failing to answer when a paying customer calls with an issue or question can put the relationship at risk and jeopardise your long term future.

You could hire someone to deal with your calls.

But that can get expensive.

A full-time receptionist can easily cost you £19,000 plus on costs a year in wages (closer to £30,000 in London).

Not to mention the additional management duties that come with having an employee like insurance, tax, holiday pay and sick pay.

Managing your employee can become more of a headache than the problem you hired them to solve in the first place.

But when it comes to managing your business’ call handling, a virtual receptionist can be the best solution.

What exactly is a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist functions more like a service than a full-time employee. A virtual answering service provider gives you access to a call center with multiple agents ready to take your calls

A virtual receptionist is someone who answers phones, takes messages, and schedules appointments on your company’s behalf. 

This professional is usually very good at customer service and phone etiquette. 

Without being physically present in your office, a virtual receptionist can manage calls for the company, transfer calls to the appropriate person, and take messages as directed.

Here’s the six reasons a virtual receptionist is a great investment for your business.

1. Get professional customer service

Just because you can’t get to the phone doesn’t mean it should leave your customers in limbo.

Sending any customer to voicemail is an easy way to damage your reputation and put your business’ future at risk.

A virtual receptionist works just like a traditional receptionist would.

They can answer calls, take messages, deal with customer enquiries and make sure urgent calls get through to the people they need to.

2. Putting people behind your business

As useful as websites and chatbot messaging services can be, there are times when customers will want to speak to a person.

They want to feel they’re being treated like an individual, not just a number on a spreadsheet.

When something’s going wrong, the last thing they need is to be sent down an ‘automated’ system to solve a problem on their own.

By having a virtual receptionist on the end of the phone, you create that human-to-human connection between your business and customers.

Instead of getting automated responses or a robotic voice asking them to leave a message, customers get to speak to someone and get the reassurance that their problem is being dealt with.

3. Get more consistent and reliable call answering

As hard as you try, you can’t always be available to answer the phone.

Even if you’ve got employees working in an office, any manager will know the frustration that comes with each employee answering the phone in a different way.

Or, worse, failing to take down all the information they need to when taking a message for a colleague.

All of this can create confusion for employees and inconsistent customer service – which puts your business’ reputation and future at risk.

A virtual receptionist removes these problems.

They create a consistent answering service across your business, ensuring every call is answered quickly and that the right information is taken and passed on to the relevant person every time.

4. Get more cost effective call answering

Hiring a full-time receptionist can be a good idea for your business, if you have the money.

But the average salary for a full-time receptionist in the UK is £19,000 according to totaljobs.com.

That rises to around £30,000 for more experienced receptionists.

Not to mention the additional costs for insurance, tax, holiday pay, sick pay, cover for annual leave.

The list goes on.

Do you have that kind of money to invest?

And don’t forget, when your receptionist is on a break, or goes on leave, you’re still paying them even though you’re not getting the service.

Plus, if you’re a newer business that isn’t taking as many calls, is it worth the investment for a full-time receptionist?

5. Get help managing a busy diary

While you might think a virtual receptionist is only for call answering, you’d be wrong.

A virtual receptionist can also help you manage your diary, and arrange and book meetings for you.

They can get access to your diary and coordinate with others to arrange times that work for everyone.

This can take a lot of admin off your hands and free you up to concentrate on the parts of your business that make you money.

Your diary will also update in real-time as the virtual receptionist books meetings, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally double booking your time.

6. Get more time to concentrate on your business

There’s a big difference between working in your business and on your business.

As the owner, you need to free up as much time as you can to work on your business so you can plan and grow.

But dealing with calls and diary management can easily drag you back towards working in your business and make it harder for you to develop your business.

A virtual receptionist means you can concentrate on working on your business and focussing on value adding tasks, without worrying about missing calls and potentially losing out on new business.

Plus, if you’re going through a quieter period, you can scale back your virtual receptionist contract until you pick up again – something you’re not able to do if you hire a full-time member of staff.

Professionalise your business’ call answering

While you might have a number of channels for customers to get in touch, being available on the other end of the phone is still essential when a customer tries to contact you.

But as much as you want, you can’t guarantee you’ll be available to answer every call.

And with so much riding on customer service today, do you really want to risk not being there when the phone rings?

What Are the Qualities of an Excellent Virtual Receptionist?

Virtual receptionists can help you grow your business by providing numerous benefits. They can provide superior customer service at a lower cost than hiring a receptionist

Virtual assistance, like all services, is only as good as the people who work on it. That is why having a company with a strict hiring process is essential. Here are some qualities to look for in a virtual phone answering service.

  • Extremely Dependable
  • Outstanding Communicator
  • Resourceful
  • Proactive
  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Multitasking Capability
  • Ability to Work Well Under Pressure
  • Excellent at follow-up

The characteristics depicted in the preceding list may be generic. However, if you are looking for a company to outsource to, they must have values that represent these characteristics. Companies can also train employees to improve their skills.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Receptionist Business Phone Answering Service?

Now that we’ve established the task and characteristics of virtual assistants, let’s weigh the benefits and drawbacks of having one. As previously stated, a business phone answering service can make your process more efficient and faster. Furthermore, it is less expensive than hiring in-house receptionists.

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of using a call-answering service:

  • Ability to Work Well Under Pressure
  • Excellent at follow-up

The characteristics depicted in the preceding list may be generic. However, if you are looking for a company to outsource to, they must have values that represent these characteristics. Companies can also train employees to improve their skills.

Advantage: Improve Your Customers’ Reputation

When a customer dials your company’s phone number, they expect an immediate response. Their expectations of your service are so high that you must go above and beyond to meet them. 

If their call is not answered, it is estimated that 76% of customers will not leave a voicemail. This figure represents the vast majority of your potential customers. They are more likely to seek out another company with a better answering service. That is why it is preferable to have someone look after your phone calls while you are away.

Advantage: Increase Sales While Reducing Expenses

It is a given that outsourcing your service is both smart and cost-effective. When compared to hiring in-house employees, offshore companies provide more affordable assistance. You will also save money by not having to find additional work space for them.

Furthermore, the money you save can be used to expand your business. While you focus on more pressing business matters, your virtual receptionists can handle the basic tasks.

Disadvantage: Training Virtual Receptionist Is Difficult

There are numerous modern technologies available to connect people all over the world. However, there are some things that are difficult to communicate online. It can be difficult to train your virtual assistants over the internet. Some information will be difficult for them to grasp right away.

So, if you believe in personalizing your service, you must ensure that your virtual assistants understand the essence of your company. It is also preferable if you allow the BPO company to train them based on your preferences.

Disadvantage: It is more difficult to manage and monitor the activity of a virtual receptionist

In addition to the difficulty of training, the activity of virtual assistants is difficult to observe. You will find it difficult to provide an assessment because you cannot see them working. The only metric you can use is the level of service they can provide to your company.

However, there are other things you can do to keep track of them. Some BPO firms offer monthly evaluations to their agents. You can see if they are performing their duties correctly. They also have team leaders who keep track of their daily activities.