2023 Business Guide to Virtual Receptionist Services

Virtual Receptionist

Editors Note: This article was updated on September 29, 2023, originally published on December 17, 2019, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

What if you could get back 1 hour a day? What about 30 minutes? You could leave the office on time or focus on the next big deal that will catapult your business.

A major culprit for businesses spending a lot of time and money is answering inbound phone calls.

You have several options to solve this problem:

  • add a new employee
  • hire a virtual receptionist
  • send calls to voice mail

In many cases, businesses are saving as much as 78% percent hiring a virtual receptionist versus a full-time hire, according to one data source.

Ideal for all business types that require a receptionist’s service, this option will do much more than just answer phones for you.

If you are considering hiring dedicated receptionists to help you with appointment scheduling, answering business phone calls, handling sales calls, and other additional answering services, this guide is for you. We will explore:

  • What is a virtual receptionist?
  • How can they help your business?
  • On-premise vs. remote virtual receptionists
  • How much does this servicecost?

Let’s get started…

What is a virtual receptionist?

It’s important to know that virtual customer care assistants are not robocallers. They are human beings who answer phone calls remotely in a professional manner.

If you hire a live receptionist for your inbound calls or appointment setting, you’ll benefit from the skills of highly trained professionals without the trouble of conducting interviews and training them. Moreover, you will pay a lot less for the work these friendly receptionists provide than if you were to hire an on-premise receptionist.

They answer phones and represent your business. They are experts in call handling, can handle hundreds of calls a day, and are always available for your clients. Virtual receptionists do pretty much everything an in-house receptionist does at a lower price point.

Also known as virtual assistants, they provide a live answering service from their virtual offices or call centers. Companies specialized in offering phone answering services have virtual assistants ready to answer calls for you and provide customer support. Many answering service providers can offer virtual answering services available 24/7.

Telephone

How can virtual receptionists help your business?

Any unanswered phone call is a lost potential client. With a dedicated team of receptionists, you will never miss another call. You can expect to benefit from professional virtual receptionist solutions and have all your calls handled professionally. Virtual customer care assistants will:

Answer calls

The primary job of a virtual assistant is to answer incoming phone calls. They answer your company’s telephone and reply based the on custom call scripts you provide.

Take messages

Live virtual receptionists write down the caller’s information and message and deliver the information to you so that you don’t miss any critical details.

Schedule appointments and manage cancellations

If you have scheduling software in place, a virtual receptionist will learn how to use your specific tool to schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments or meetings for you.

Order management

Virtual assistants can handle a wide range of orders. They can take and process various orders, including maintenance requests and even outage reports during natural disasters.

Customer service

When collaborating with virtual receptionist service providers that offer access to 24-hour live receptionists, you will always be there for your customer calls, ready to answer their questions, whether they’re calling:

  • late at night
  • after business hours
  • on weekends or holidays

Your customers will know that they can always rely on a real person to answer the questions they have about your business.

Transfer calls

Call transfer is part of a virtual assistant’s job description, which means your customers are directed to the right people or departments. Moreover, call transferring allows you to personally answer important calls or have the virtual receptionist direct calls to you after getting your approval. In case you don’t want to answer, after a few rings, the call is sent to your skillful virtual receptionist, who will know what to do next.

Filter calls

Do you only need to receive important calls? Are you receiving a lot of spam calls? A receptionist can qualify and filter out unwanted calls, ensuring you have more time to focus on the calls that matter most.

Virtual Receptionist Services

On-premise vs. Remote Virtual Receptionists

More and more businesses are hiring virtual receptionists.

As expected, working with live receptionists has its advantages and disadvantages, just like hiring on-premise receptionists does.

You need to decide whether your business will benefit more from the service of an on-premise receptionist or the efficiency and affordability of a virtual receptionist.

Pros and cons of hiring on-premise receptionists:

Pros:

  • face-to-face training
  • shares the company values
  • helps with on-premise office tasks
  • in-person monitoring
  • face-to-face evaluation

Cons:

  • higher salary
  • training expenses
  • holiday pay
  • benefits
  • office space
  • office supplies
  • utility costs
  • not available 24/7

As you can see, while on-premises receptionists may provide a higher level of professionalism and can be more invested in the company’s interests than remote receptionists, they are also more expensive and add to common staffing overhead issues.

Pros and cons of hiring a virtual assistant:

Pros:

  • more affordable
  • more choices
  • no holiday pay
  • no benefits
  • no personal days
  • no healthcare costs
  • no overtime costs
  • less staffing issues
  • no charges for IT equipment (they have their own)
  • lower maintenance costs

Cons

  • not on-premise
  • no guarantee you get the same virtual assistant
  • cannot help with on-premise activities
  • harder to manage/monitor their activities

A poorly trained remote receptionist or a live assistant with a poor attitude may reflect poorly on your company’s reputation and affect your business. Since remote receptionists are not a part of your team, they might not be as dedicated to the company’s success as your on-site staff.

That’s why you need to hire a virtual receptionist company known for its expert assistants and impeccable reputation. Unicom ensures excellent customer service, professional virtual assistants, and 24/7 quality monitoring. Check out our virtual receptionist plans!

How much does a virtual receptionist cost?

The cost of acquiring a high-quality level of service depends on several factors, including call volume and the type of business you’re running. There are typically four standard plans available to companies looking to benefit from appointment booking, chat services, and other additional services virtual receptionists can offer:

Pay by the minute

It is common for services to charge by the minute, so you pay for the time you use. Most businesses prefer this model. Using this model, you pay for both outgoing and incoming calls.

For example, at our firm, we bill only for live agent time. This means you only pay for the time agents are working on your account.

Other services may charge you a base rate plus a per-minute charge.

You must understand how the provider calculates call time. The best way to get these details is to ask for a breakdown of all charges.

Pay per call

Some companies prefer to pay per call. With this model, you pay by the number of phone calls you receive. Plans typically include a base rate plus a charge per call.

Business owners should find out how providers classify a connection. Some basic questions they can ask include:

  • What happens if someone calls and hangs up?
  • What if it is a wrong number?
  • Is there a limit on how long the call can last?

Imagine getting your bill and seeing hundreds of calls, but you know you only received a couple of dozen calls.

Finally, you want to provide a positive customer experience, and limiting the call time could negatively impact the caller’s experience.

Monthly fees

A majority of companies charge month to month. Built into the plan is a specific amount of minutes plus a fixed rate for additional minutes.

A monthly subscription can be a cost-effective model, depending on your monthly number of incoming callers and call volume.

If you can accurately calculate your monthly call volume, this could be a useful model for you.

Tiered pricing

Companies will offer different levels of pricing for their services, known as tiered pricing.

The higher levels are more expensive and will include more additional features than a base-level tier.

Make sure to verify what each level includes. Check for any additional charges besides the base charge.

Free Trials

It is not uncommon for call centers to provide a free trial of their services. Remember to read the fine print and look for any hidden fees or setup costs.

Unfortunately, most free trials are too short for you to evaluate the quality of the service.

If you plan to integrate a new service into your processes, can you decide in 7 days?

Conclusion

Virtual receptionists are becoming modern-day solutions for a wide range of firms, from small businesses to large organizations, looking to handle incoming calls. Virtual answering is an affordable and flexible tool that ensures all customers receive their answers and contributes to a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Receptionist

 

Devin Bailey
Devin Bailey
I've been in the call center industry for over a decade. A big part of my job is educating businesses on the role telecommunications and outsourced task procedures can play for their business. Understanding their processes is critical to verify and implement the right services. When I am not in front of clients I manage the technological infrastructure in the call center.