Customers are the lifeline of any business and need to feel valued at all times. One of the best ways for a company to show they care is by offering excellent customer service regardless of their nature of business. If your customers normally reach out by phone, you need to have someone operating the phone lines 24/7. 

Typically, you would hire an on-site receptionist to handle all the phone calls and customer service tasks. However, with advancement in technology, many businesses are switching to a virtual receptionist service who offer the same service remotely. 

What is a virtual receptionist service?

Virtual receptionist services are companies hired to answer calls on behalf of businesses. The companies have trained professionals that offer answering services with the scope of work determined by a business owner. 

Although tasks assigned to virtual receptionists are similar to traditional ones, their location sets them apart. The word “virtual” points to the fact that the service offered will be remote and flexible for clients. Besides flexibility, the services offered are high-quality and can be customized to meet the needs of a business. Companies that can’t hire full-time receptionists can get their calls answered by a virtual receptionist, giving them a chance to focus on other aspects of their business. 

Most times, the services go beyond just picking up incoming calls and responding to inquiries. Other tasks provided by a virtual receptionist service include:

  • Handling general inquiries
  • Transferring calls
  • Making outbound calls
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Answering FAQs
  • Collecting customer information
  • After-hours support
  • E-mail marketing

If you have a website, it can be handled by a “live receptionist” who responds to chat inquiries from online visitors. 

How does it work?

A virtual receptionist is an “out of office” employee who works pretty much like a traditional one. They are well trained and can handle various administrative tasks on behalf of the company. Depending on your needs, the remote assistant assigned to your company will work as if they are an extension of your business. Besides having a thorough knowledge of your company, they also have the appropriate equipment to allow them to manage calls and perform other service-related tasks.

So, how does a remote receptionist work on your behalf?

  • Step 1 – When a client calls your business, they are redirected to a dedicated receptionist. The receptionist professionally picks the call and listens to their inquiry to respond appropriately.
  • Step 2 – The conversation between the receptionist and client is screened to determine their needs and the appropriate solution. At this juncture, the remote receptionist can take a message, transfer calls or answer questions. Scheduling appointments and syncing them to a calendar can also be done by the receptionist. 
  • Step 3 – Forward messages and appointments for the day to the business owner or relevant person in an organization. The business owner also has access to information on calls and messages throughout the day, which they can respond to immediately or later. Some virtual receptionist services have a web portal that clients can visit anytime for updates. 

 What makes a great virtual receptionist?

The need for virtual receptionists is on the rise as many businesses realize they need help to manage their customers. Outsourcing gives them free time to be more productive and complete important tasks with no distractions at a small fee. Fortunately, several companies offer remote receptionists services, making it easy to find a suitable one. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a virtual receptionist.

  • Experience

Receptionists that have worked in the same role for many years can be a great asset to your business. They will be able to multi-task and work on different objects without getting burned out. Virtual receptionists who have worked many years with similar companies can also advise on handling customers and related tasks. 

  • Organized

Normally, virtual receptionists handle several clients at one go and still offer excellent services to each of them. Make sure your prospective assistant can attend to your customers’ needs within the agreed timelines. When working with a company with several receptionists, ensure you have one specifically assigned to you.

  • Empathetic

Customers love to talk to someone that quickly responds to their needs and empathizes with their situation. Receptionists that make customers feel valued and understood are the best bet for the job. Friendliness goes a long way in establishing loyalty, and customers will always want to know about products or services when they are treated well. 

  • Proactive 

Handling customers on behalf of businesses is never a black and white affair, requiring receptionists sometimes to seek information independently. A receptionist that goes above and beyond the given tasks to help a customer is worth hiring. Being resourceful and going the extra mile is a trait that should be a priority when looking for a remote receptionist. 

  • Good communicator

A virtual receptionist that can demonstrate effective communication skills on the phone and the written word is perfect for any business. They should be able to respond to phone calls and e-mails in a professional and timely manner. Make sure they are conversant with different types of online communication platforms and tools. If possible, have an in-person or video interview before offering them the position. 

  • Honest

A trustworthy receptionist is important because they are the first person to interact with your customers. They must share factual information and respond to inquiries with the truth. In case they make a mistake, they should quickly admit it and do their best to make things right. Additionally, working remotely means they have to be disciplined and deliver work on agreed timelines with minimal supervision. 

  • Affordable 

Bringing a remote receptionist on board comes with a cost that should be considered before deciding who to hire. The cost depends on many factors, such as call volume or type of business. Typically, receptionists are paid by the minute, per call, or monthly giving you a chance to choose the most suitable one. 

Finally, finding a virtual receptionist service that meets your needs may require some effort, but the rewards of high-quality customer service and increased sales will be worth it.