Want to hire a virtual receptionist for your business?
Most business owners find it difficult to juggle the demands of running a company while interacting with clients and responding to inquiries.
So if you’re one of these individuals who don’t seem to have enough hours in the day, a virtual receptionist can help you out.
In this article, we’ll explain what a virtual receptionist is and how to manage them. We’ll also highlight the top five virtual receptionist service providers so that you can choose the best one for your business.
This article covers:
(Click on a link below to go to a specific section)
- What Is A Virtual Receptionist?
- 4 Key Benefits Of A Virtual Receptionist
- Top 5 Virtual Receptionist Software
- The Best Way To Manage A Virtual Receptionist
Let’s get started.
What is a virtual receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a person responsible for taking calls, messages and scheduling appointments on your company’s behalf.
This professional usually has excellent customer service and phone etiquette skills.
A virtual receptionist can manage calls for the company, transfer calls to the relevant person, and take messages as per the instructions without being physically present at your office.
4 key benefits of a virtual receptionist
Whether you’re a small business owner wanting to save costs or an established company looking to downsize, there are several reasons to hire a virtual or remote receptionist.
Some notable benefits include:
1. Available 24/7
Unlike a traditional receptionist, virtual receptionists don’t work in your office.
Many virtual reception service providers have a team of internationally based receptionists that can service every timezone. So, you can hire them to work at any time of the day.
Engaging their services means your calls won’t go unanswered – even in the middle of the night!
This way, you won’t risk losing any business. You’ll also improve customer satisfaction by handling every inquiry.
Hiring a full-time house receptionist can be more costly than a virtual receptionist service.
You’ll also be paying less – considering the costs of employee taxes, healthcare, and other benefits.
Most virtual receptionist services offer affordable pricing plans at a fraction of the cost of a full-time in-house receptionist. Additionally, you can reduce expenses on workplace furniture, equipment, and utility.
You can also save time and money not having to train an in-house receptionist.
Hiring virtual receptionists will also be a good option if you’re considering shifting to a virtual office.
Read more on virtual offices and their benefits.
3. Improve customer service
Most virtual receptionists are carefully screened and trained to interact with your clients politely and offer your clients exceptional customer service.
Having someone who can answer client calls in a friendly and competent manner will ensure your company portrays a professional image.
A virtual receptionist who’s knowledgeable about your business can also help improve the customer experience – as they would know more about the caller’s needs.
4. Focus on your goals
By outsourcing your call answering tasks to a virtual receptionist, you can focus on your core business activities without worrying about missed calls.
Additionally, your virtual receptionist can screen your incoming calls and emails outside of regular business hours. They can then let you know which messages require immediate attention and those that can wait.
The best virtual receptionists will also assist with time-consuming and tedious administrative tasks, so you can focus on the important growth aspects of your business.
Top 5 virtual receptionist service providers
A virtual receptionist company or call center can provide outsourced front desk professionals for small businesses and corporations.
Here’s a look at the five best virtual receptionist service providers:
Smith.ai provides live call answering services for small businesses.
It also provides businesses with a combination of live receptionist and virtual assistant services that use artificial intelligence.
A. North-American receptionists
Smith.ai will provide you with North-America-based professional virtual receptionists who are fluent in English. So, you don’t have to worry about a caller not understanding the accent of your live virtual receptionist.
B. Phone Or text transcriptions
At the end of each day, you’ll be given a transcription of every call and text chat via email.
C. An online dashboard
Smith.ai stores every call to your phone system on the online dashboard, making it easier to track phone calls and follow-up later.
Nexa is a US-based service provider providing live receptionist service to the legal, franchise, real estate, and insurance businesses.
It assists you in boosting your lead generation process, setting appointments, and providing customer support.
A. Industry-specific training
The associates at Nexa receive industry-specific training so that your clients never know that they’re talking with someone outside the company.
They go through a rigorous quality assurance program, which frequently monitors the virtual receptionist’s scores upon completing the call.
B. Scheduling appointments
The receptionists can schedule appointments with their Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook integrated scheduling software.
C. Outbound calling campaigns
They can help you improve sales by running outbound call campaigns. This way, your team can focus on closing deals instead of making outbound calls.
D. Mobile app
Nexa’s mobile app helps you stay connected on the go. You can access real-time reports on your clients, update your availability, and manage messaging on the app.
Ruby is a company that provides virtual receptionists with 24/7 availability throughout the United States. This phone answering service is popular among small law firms.
Ruby has multiple voice services available depending on your needs.
A Ruby receptionist can greet each of your clients with a customized greeting. They can also route calls depending on whether they’re new or existing client calls.
B. In-house chat tool
You can configure the chat tool on your website so that the client can choose whether they want a live chat with you or the receptionist.
Additionally, the website chatbot can also gather basic information like name, address, and phone number.
C. Advanced calling features
In addition to call routing, they also offer advanced features like voicemail transcription.
You can also have calls recorded and use these analytics to improve your client service.
4. Abby Connect
Abby Connect provides more than just a telephone answering service. Their virtual receptionists can handle tasks like appointment scheduling and conducting background research on a potential client.
A. Custom answering hours
They offer a 24/7 answering service, 365 days a year. You can also customize the hours according to your needs.
For example, if you receive more business calls and messages over the weekend or outside of business hours, you can ask your virtual receptionist to work on these days.
B. Call screening
Receptionists can screen and announce your inbound calls. If your call volume is high, they can take messages and transfer only the important calls to you.
C. Bilingual receptionists
They can provide you with a bilingual receptionist – fluent in English and Spanish.
PATLive is a 24/7 live answering service with trained virtual receptionists across the United States.
They offer customizable services, event registration, and order processing – whether you’re in Portland or New York City.
A. Flexible call handling
PatLive lets you customize how virtual receptionists answer your calls.
Their real person receptionists operate as an in-office receptionist, transferring calls when you’re available and taking messages when you’re not.
B. Event registrations
When you’re hosting an event, your attendees must have easy access to inquiries and FAQs.
PATLive’s virtual receptionist works as an extension of your office by providing information on the event, collecting leads, and booking confirmed visitors.
They can also take payments of registered events when needed.
C. Processing orders
PATLive’s team also helps with payments and other billing issues.
If you have an e-commerce store, their team can directly process orders and answer common queries, as your in-house employees would.
The best way to manage a virtual receptionist in 2021
Once you’ve decided to hire a virtual receptionist, you’ll need a way to track their billable hours.
Fortunately, you can use the Time Doctor app to measure the productivity of your virtual receptionists.
What’s Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a robust employee time tracking and performance management tool used by major companies and small businesses to boost employee productivity.
If the virtual receptionist is aware that you’re monitoring them during work hours, they’re more likely to be more focused and productive.
Here are some of Time Doctor’s best features:
A. Interactive time tracking
Time Doctor offers automatic and manual time tracking options to track the number of hours your virtual receptionist works every day.
Your virtual receptionists can manually ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ the timer to begin and end recording, respectively.
Note: Time Doctor also offers automatic time tracking for increased flexibility. It automatically starts tracking time when you turn on your computer.
B. Assign tasks and projects
Create tasks for virtual assistants based on projects and clients. This way, you can track the time they spend on each task.
You can assign tasks to a specific assistant or a group in a few clicks using Time Doctor.
- Go to ‘Add Task’ and create a new task.
- Click on ‘People’ and choose the team member you want to assign the task to.
C. In-depth reports
With Time Doctor, you can generate several reports to help you analyze your virtual receptionists’ productivity, activity, web and app usage, etc.
Reports offered by Time Doctor include:
- Hours tracked report: Indicates how long your employees worked over a specific time frame.
- Activity summary report: Indicates how your team spends their work time.
- Project and tasks report: Reveals how much time your employees spend on each task.
- Timeline report: Shows you the time your virtual receptionists check-in and out on a day or over a week. These reports will also indicate how long they spent working and taking breaks.
- Web and app usage report: Reveals the websites and apps your virtual receptionists used during a specific period.
- Custom export: You can also customize what information you want to include in the report. So, you don’t have to download multiple individual reports.
D. Optional screencasts
Time Doctor can take screenshots of your virtual receptionists’ screens at regular intervals.
This software can also record 3-minute long videos of your virtual receptionists’ screen.
To protect employee privacy, you can also blur/delete screenshots containing sensitive information.
E. Work schedules and attendance report
You can use the work schedules feature to manage shifts easily. You can import and export employee shifts in a CSV file format to save time manually creating and updating schedules.
Moreover, you can also set different schedules for each virtual employee.
Once you’ve activated the work schedules feature, you can also generate attendance reports.
With this report, you can see which of your team are absent, present, partially absent, late, or currently on their shift.
F. Additional features
Here are a few more features that Time Doctor has in store for you:
- Straightforward and employee-friendly settings.
- Determine which sites are productive and unproductive (e.g., social media sites) for your virtual receptionists to visit with the productivity ratings feature.
- Powerful integrations with 50+ third-party productivity tools like Asana and Trello and CRM software like Pipedrive and Zoho.
- With the Android mobile app, you can track time on the go.
- Strict privacy and data security policies.
- The idle time tracker lets you monitor when your virtual receptionists are inactive.
If you’re a business owner, having a virtual receptionist gives you the best of both worlds.
You can concentrate on core business tasks instead of answering inquiries. Additionally, you can save money by not hiring a full-time receptionist and reinvest these savings into your company’s budget.
Go through the service providers we covered here to decide on the best one for your company.
Once you’ve hired your virtual receptionist, Time Doctor is the ideal solution to monitor your new team member. With its simple user interface and productivity features, you can easily and efficiently train and manage your virtual receptionist.
So why not sign up for Time Doctor today?
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.