Virtual Receptionist: The Solution to Unanswered Calls for Small Businesses

Virtual Receptionist
5 min read

Do you consider a missed call a big deal? If you’re like many business managers, you don’t. After all, there’s still email and instant messaging isn’t there. So, what’s the big deal about missing a few calls? Missed calls cost you dearly in terms of company revenues, customer service, and brand reputation. Given these benefits, you’d think managers would take phone calls more seriously, right?

About 62% of phone calls to small businesses go unanswered. The reason: When businesses are overwhelmed, managers and staff struggle between producing goods or services and connecting with clients. Both are critical to a company’s success and need similar attention. But given today’s business environment where you’re continually being asked to do more with less, adding additional staff to answer calls isn’t always in the cards.

What’s the solution? For some small businesses, virtual receptionists are just what the doctor ordered. The article below discusses VRs and provides insights on how they can help you survive and thrive. Topics covered include:

  • Definition of a virtual receptionist?
  • Benefits of a VR to a business
  • Difference between a VR and a call agent
  • Everyday VR activities in a business
  • Who can benefit from a VR
  • What to look for in a VR

While automation may be a game-changer in many business arenas, human interactions provided by a virtual receptionist are far more valuable than ever.

The Impact of Missed Calls

Phone calls are the lifeblood of your business. That means every call matters to your organization’s existence. People that call, says Forrester in 2017 report, intend to act. What’s more, says the report, customers that initiate calls to a business often become a marketer’s most valuable asset. With phone calls on the rise, small businesses need to pay attention to this touch point.

Calls are on the rise, mostly because people don’t see a difference between digital and the physical, says Forrester. Other key findings from the Forrester report include:

Inbound calls statistics

In addition, ads spurring individuals to make an inbound call see higher engagement.

What’s a Virtual Receptionist?

Virtual receptionists work for companies, like Unicom, and fill the role of a traditional receptionist.  VRs usually work off-site, are knowledgeable and well-trained, provide exceptional customer service, and are available 24/7. They ensure that you won’t miss any routine calls during the day or after hours. VRs are ideal where you or other key staff members eat up valuable time answering calls or you can’t afford a full-time receptionist.

This simple truth is that VRs can be anything you want them to be. The business benefits of hiring a virtual receptionist include:

  • Creating positive first impressions on callers
  • Freeing other staff members to work more with clients
  • Helping you generate leads for products or services
  • Eliminating the headaches of hiring full-time workers
  • Helping business cut labor and medical benefits costs

In other words, virtual receptionists pack the same punch as onsite receptionists but often at a fraction of the cost. Plus, you get the power of a highly-trained worker that’s never sick, late, or on vacation. Callers, meanwhile, do have to deal with automated call services or leave messages on an answering machine.

Typical Activities of a Virtual Receptionist

A Virtual Receptionist does everything that a traditional receptionist does except they work remotely. Here’s a short breakdown of the types of things VRs do:

Virtual Receptionist vs. Call Center Agent

Both of the above can help you deliver top-flight customer experiences and boost profitability. But they’re not the same. Typically, call center agents—whether on or off site, take phone calls and deliver messages. That’s it. Agents help you centralize service and support functions. Usually part of a team of highly skilled people, they serve all size companies from small business to Fortune 500 firms.

Call centers help you cut costs since you can adjust your staff as needed to match your company’s call volume. Call centers also consolidate your technological needs by establishing in one call center or several offices instead of numerous sites around the United States or the world. That cuts maintenance costs and simplifies upgrading and training.

VRs, on the other hand, act like traditional receptionists. They just do it from a remote location.  Plus, when accounts call they get the same VR answering the phone. With call centers, customers or clients may get a different agent when they call. That prevents any special phone scripts and/or messages from getting lost in translation among a host of call agents.

VRs often can become identified with your company, as with on-site receptionists, transfer calls live, and provide critical marketing and operational information to accounts. Call centers (and answering services) can sometimes come off to accounts as cold and impersonal. VRs also can deliver personalized greetings, which you can customize to fit your needs as a business.

In addition, by delivering exceptional customer experiences, VRs can set you apart from to competitors. A recent survey indicates that 70 percent of Americans would rather deal with companies that provide top-flight customer service. Enhancing customer service not only boosts reputation and loyalty but also pumps up profitability. That, in turn, gives you a leg up on your competition.

VRs Make Good Business Sense

Virtual receptionists make good sense. They can help lawyers when they are out of the office or in court, dentists when they’re with patients, and small businesses when their busy seasons occur. They can also help you significantly cut costs. Generally, they run about 20% to 30% of what it costs for a traditional receptionist. In short, VRs help you deliver excellent customer service and grow your business.

But you need to choose a VR that fits your needs.  That’s a challenge. Look for intelligent, well-organized, empathetic workers capable of taking the initiative.  More importantly, you want A VR that’s positive, personal, and friendly. A recent report says that 73 percent of consumers indicate that friendly customer service makes them fall in love with a brand. Events like that can only help your business.