If you lack the budget and space to hire a full-time receptionist, you may think the only option is to answer calls yourself. However, if your business receives more than a few calls a day, this strategy will soon backfire. Every time your phone rings, you’ll need to decide if you’ll let it interrupt your workflow or you’ll let the call go to voicemail. The first option will decrease your productivity, whereas the second will lead to poor customer service, which can have lasting effects on your business. There is actually another alternative: contracting a virtual assistant receptionist.
What Does a Virtual Assistant and Receptionist Do?
A virtual receptionist and assistant manages your phones remotely. The service is live and includes everything you would receive with an in-person receptionist.
Live Inbound Calls
The main service a virtual receptionist provides is answering of inbound calls live. Your virtual assistant will be able to provide callers with information about your company, products, and services and answer FAQs.
Sometimes, your VA will be unable to resolve a caller’s issue or the caller may need to speak with you directly. In the case you are unavailable, your virtual receptionist can take a message along with the person’s contact details. You’ll then be able to call back at a time that is convenient for you.
At small and midsize companies, a virtual receptionist can serve as the point of contact for calls before patching them through to the appropriate person. This allows you to have a single receptionist for the entire team. A call transfer service is especially useful when clients need a timely response or when issues are too complex for the receptionist to handle alone.
Your virtual receptionist can also make outbound calls. This may include placing orders with suppliers, following up with clients, making maintenance requests, and renewing or canceling subscriptions.
One of the most time-consuming tasks involving the phone is scheduling appointments. You need to arrive at a date that suits all parties — and there’s always the chance someone will need to reschedule. A virtual receptionist will manage this for you and make sure your calendar is manageable, realistic, and tailored to your preferences.
Virtual receptionists with sales and marketing knowledge can even play a role in your lead nurturing efforts. Through talking to new leads on the phone, the VA can assign leads a score and add them to your CRM. You’ll then know what action to take next with each lead.
How Do Virtual Receptionist Assistant Services Work?
If all this sounds complicated, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s actually quite straightforward. To get started, there are just three things you need to do.
1. Set Up Call Forwarding
Customers will continue to call you from the same number as always. Call forwarding will allow your virtual receptionist to receive the calls to his or her phone.
2. Write a Script
To ensure the virtual receptionist maintains the image you want for your brand, you’ll provide your VA with a script. This should include answers to all the questions callers often ask as well as instructions to walk clients through processes and general information about your company and policies. In addition to the script, it’s a good idea to provide your VA with a document that specifies particulars about your brand voice, including words to use and to avoid to deliver the correct messaging.
3. Provide Access to Your Calendar
For appointment scheduling, your virtual receptionist will also need access to your calendar. In addition to scheduling appointments over the phone, your VA may use software to allow clients, partners, and others to book in an available slot. The virtual assistant will block out the time on your calendar when you’re unavailable for any reason and ensure you have a buffer around appointments for the eventuality that they take slightly longer than you expected.
Advantages of a Virtual Assistant Receptionist
There are several benefits to using virtual assistant services — both over continuing to manage your phone alone and over hiring an in-person receptionist.
Free Up Your Schedule
When you don’t need to worry about phone calls, you’re able to focus your attention on other work. This will mean you’re more productive; plus, you’ll be spending time on work you actually enjoy.
Answer Calls Outside Business Hours
With a virtual receptionist, you’re no longer restricted to answering your phones during business hours. You can have someone answer during evening and weekends, if this would be beneficial to your business.
Increase Customer Loyalty
A virtual receptionist will provide your customers with an excellent service. The VA will answer your calls immediately, reducing the time it takes a customer to receive information or solve a problem. Virtual assistants are also trained in customer service best practices. This is critical because customer service leads to customer loyalty, meaning more repeat business and higher-value sales.
Gain a Competitive Edge
Offering a professional customer service will improve your image, enabling you to keep up with the competition. This is especially important if your closest competitors have a receptionist answering their phones.
Most companies find a virtual receptionist affordable, particularly when you factor in the better customer service and improved productivity. Since you only pay for the hours you need, it is much cheaper than a full-time receptionist. Furthermore, you won’t incur costs related to training or office space.
As your company grows, you can contract your virtual assistant to work more hours and take on more duties. Plus, you’ll have a solution in place if the situation at your company changes temporarily and leads to more calls. For example, the release of a new product may result in more customers calling for support or a new service may cause an influx of appointments. Alternatively, you may just want to take a week off and need someone to take messages for you.
How Much Does It Cost to Have a Virtual Receptionist Office Assistant?
The average cost of a virtual receptionist is between $10 and $25 an hour. Typically, you’ll pay your VA in one of three ways.
Some virtual assistants simply charge you for the hours they spend working. This will include time spent answering calls as well as time carrying out other administrative tasks.
If you just want someone to answer your calls, you may be able to pay per phone call. However, if you choose this option, make sure you find out what constitutes a call. For instance, will you be charged for wrong numbers or callbacks if the connection drops?
The same VA may offer additional services at the same or a different rate from answering calls. For instance, more specialist services may have a higher price tag.
For greater control over how much you spend on VA services and more flexibility in terms of the services you receive, you may prefer to purchase a subscription service. This will give you a certain number of hours to use as you need. The top agencies offer prepaid packages either with no expiry date or that allow you to roll over unused hours at the end of the month.
To offer exceptional customer service to your clients, you need an experienced virtual receptionist. The virtual assistants at MYVA360 are skilled at answering phone calls and can provide you with a variety of other administrative services. You’ll only pay for the time your VA spends working and you can choose in advance how many hours you want per month. To receive a 10-percent discount on our live receptionist and virtual assistant services, schedule a consultation.