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Written by
Katy Ratican
28 Sep 2021
4 minutes
What does a virtual receptionist do?
Everything you wanted to know about virtual receptionists plus an alternative for modern-day businesses
What does virtual receptionist do

A telephone call is the first point of contact most people would have with your business. To ensure that they have the right impression, you should look to make your call management more professional. A worthwhile solution is to hire a virtual receptionist.

A virtual receptionist is an example of telecom and digital technologies helping small or local business owners make the most of limited resources. Businesses that don’t have the necessary team strength or even an office can still look professional and maintain the desired etiquette when dealing with business calls.

What is a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is someone who works for an external agency who will receive calls and direct them to the concerned team member within your system. They will also take messages and forward them to your team.

Although these professionally-trained individuals work for an outsourced agency, when taking calls or messages, they will give the impression that they are a part of your system. The caller wouldn’t know that they are talking to a third party.

What does a virtual receptionist do?

The primary responsibility of a virtual receptionist is to professionally answer calls and take messages. Depending on the kind of contractual arrangement, they may provide additional services. These include directing calls and forwarding messages to team members.

Virtual receptionists will also ensure that sales or spam callers don’t enter the system. In certain cases, they will also give necessary information to customers and clients without involving anyone from your team.

What are the benefits of a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist will be the first interaction all callers will have with your system. The professional etiquette they provide will make your business look professional. You could be a small business, solo contractor or freelancer but with a virtual receptionist, your business will look credible to the caller.

They also ensure that you or your team members don’t get interrupted by routine calls from customers or clients. Those interruptions can be costly as they make it difficult to regain focus. But now you can focus on revenue-generating tasks while the virtual receptionist takes calls related to orders or appointments.

A virtual receptionist is also the traditional solution to the missed calls problem. You might have a genuine reason not to take a call but it could hurt your business. The outsourced receptionist won’t miss any calls and ensure that you get the necessary details.

They’re also demonstrably cost-effective. They are a cheaper solution when you consider the costs of searching, hiring, and paying benefits to a full-time receptionist.

How much does a virtual receptionist cost?

Most agencies work on two models. Either you’ll have to pay per call, which would be around £1. Or you’ll have to choose a minimum number of calls at a lower rate and then pay extra for additional calls.

The price will also depend on the kind of services you want. For example, if you want a warm transfer – that’s when the call is directed to the concerned individual after informing them of the caller’s needs – you may have to pay more.

In a cold transfer, the call would be directed to the team and not anyone in particular and without any accompanying information.

Virtual receptionist vs. in-house receptionist

An in-house receptionist would be expensive when compared to a virtual receptionist. Also, you may not need the services of a full-time in-house receptionist when you’re starting your business. With a virtual receptionist, you’ll only pay for what you use.

No matter how dedicated they are, chances are that your in-house receptionist would take a sick day or go on holiday. A virtual receptionist will always be there as your contract is with their agency.

What's the difference between a virtual receptionist and an answering service?

While there are advantages to a business answering service, their services won’t be customised to your business needs. The agent receiving the call wouldn’t know enough about your business or team members.

They also may not have enough information to handle queries related to orders or other aspects of your business.

Alternatives to a virtual receptionist

However professional, a virtual receptionist won’t provide other important services that your business might need. A second-line app will deliver smarter features along with a new number that you can use exclusively for business calls.

If you use this virtual number as your customer support number, your personal number would be protected from spammers.

A second-line app will also ensure that your callers get an auto-text reply when you miss their calls. Plus, you can have professional voicemail and the ability to automate online review requests.

In short

If you want to avoid hiring an in-house receptionist, a virtual receptionist is a viable option. But businesses that get a second line for work from a second-line app will have a host of tech-led features at exceptionally affordable rates. Those are the kind of advantages local businesses cannot afford to ignore.

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