2020 Business Guide to Virtual Receptionist Services

Virtual Receptionist

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 a voice mail

The last option is not an option if you are serious about growing your business and providing a positive customer experience.

Companies are turning to virtual receptionists to help them get more done.

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 types of business that require the service of a receptionist, virtual receptionists will do much more than just answer phones for you.

If you are considering hiring a virtual receptionist, this guide is for you. We will explore:

  • What is a virtual receptionist?
  • How can a virtual receptionist help your business?
  • On-Premise vs. Remote Virtual Receptionists
  • How much does a virtual receptionist cost?

Let’s get started…

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

It’s important to know that a virtual receptionist is not a robot that spills out prerecorded messages. Virtual receptionists are human beings that answer phone calls remotely in a professional manner.

If you hire a live receptionist, you’ll benefit from the skills of highly trained professionals without the trouble of conducting interviews and preparing them. Moreover, you will pay a lot less for the work they provide than if you were to hire an on-premise receptionist.

Virtual receptionists answer phones and represent your business. They are experts who 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 for at a lower price point.

Also known as virtual assistants, virtual receptionists provide a live answering service from their virtual offices or call center. Companies specialized in offering phone answering services have available virtual assistants ready to answer calls for you and provide customer support. Many services can provide receptionists 24 hours a day and always happy to answer questions.

Virtual Receptionist

How can a virtual receptionist help your business?

Any phone call unanswered is a potential client lost. With a virtual receptionist, you will never miss another call. You can expect to have a professional voice answering and managing all of your phones. They will:

Answer calls

The primary job of a virtual assistant is indeed to answer calls. The virtual receptionist answers your company’s telephone and replies based on a script you provided. They make sure every call gets answered so that you won’t lose any client or business opportunity.

Take messages

A live receptionist not only answer calls based on your scripts but also writes down the caller’s information and message and passes the information to you so that you won’t miss any critical details.

Schedule appointments and cancellation

If you have a scheduling software in place, a virtual receptionist knows how to use it and schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments for any business.

Order management

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

Customer service

Offering 24-hour live receptionist means you will always be there for your customer calls to answer their questions, whether they’re calling:

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

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

Transferring calls

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

Call Filtering

Do you only need to receive important calls? Are you receiving a lot of unwanted calls?

A receptionist can qualify and filter out unwanted calls. Ensuring you have more time to focus on the calls that matter most.

On-Premise vs. Remote Virtual Receptionists

More and more businesses are hiring virtual receptionists.

But is this decision the best for them? 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:


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


  • higher salary
  • training expenses
  • holiday pays
  • benefits
  • office space
  • office supplies
  • utility costs
  • Not able to work 24 hours

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 to have and add up to the staffing issues.

Pros and cons of hiring virtual receptionists:


  • more affordable
  • more choices
  • no holiday pays
  • 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


  • not on-premise
  • no guarantee you have 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 is. That’s why you need to hire a virtual receptionist company known for its expert assistants and impeccable reputation. Anything less than that might do more harm than good to your business.

How much does a Virtual Receptionist cost?

The cost of hiring virtual receptionist services depends on several factors, including call volume and the type of business you’re running. There are typically four types of plans for a company that wants to hire a virtual receptionist:

Pay by the minute

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

For example, at Unicom, we bill only for live agent time. Meaning you only pay for 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. You do not want any surprises when you get your bill. 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 do not pay per minute, but just by the number of phone calls you receive. Plans typically include a base rate plus a charge per call.

See how providers classify a connection. Some basic questions you 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 positive customer experience, and limiting the call time could negatively impact the caller’s experience.

Monthly fees

A majority of virtual receptionist companies charge a monthly subscription. 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 call volume.

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

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 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 virtual receptionist services. Remember to read the fine print. Look for any hidden fees or setup costs.

Most free trials are too short for you to evaluate the quality of the service.

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


Virtual receptionists are becoming a popular choice for small businesses to large organizations that have to handle a few to a large number of client calls. It’s an affordable service to make sure all customers receive their answers, and their (remote) presence contributes to a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Learn how you can save time and money by hiring a virtual receptionist for your business.