Of course, if you frequently have customers coming to your premises, they must be greeted, in which case you might really need to consider a part-time or full-time receptionist. Otherwise, you can probably take the virtual route, in which case you have a couple of options, both of which will have less impact on your bottom line than hiring an employee:
Option 1: Implement a virtual receptionist software application.
Option 2: Hire a remote worker to act as a live virtual receptionist
While it’s great to have these options, which a few years ago could not have been considered, it isn’t always easy to know which alternative will be best for your business.
Virtual Receptionist Software
One alternative to hiring a receptionist is to implement a software solution. Virtual receptionist software is pretty inexpensive, with cloud-based solutions available for a low monthly service fee. An automated voice greets your callers and can take messages or direct each call to an appropriate extension.
Some more sophisticated systems can even make automated outgoing calls (to provide basic information to a customer, such as the ETA of a service technician) and send notifications by SMS text.
However, there is only so much that virtual receptionist software can do in terms of helping customers to navigate your business and get answers to their enquiries; which after all, is the most important part of a receptionist’s role. In terms of creating first impressions, the software has a number of limitations, including the fact that each caller has to listen all the way through a scripted message delivered by a digital voice.
The Advantages of a Live Virtual Receptionist
Of course, nothing beats having a real receptionist located at your business premises and ready to greet callers with a pleasant, professional, and above all, human manner. If the cost of that is prohibitive though or you just don’t want the complication of another permanent employee on the books, the next best thing might be a live virtual receptionist.
A live virtual receptionist offers a number of advantages over the automated alternative. Indeed, if you can find a good one, geography is the only difference to having a receptionist on-site. Compared to making use of software to channel incoming communications, a live virtual receptionist offers the following advantages:
- A far better first impression to customers than an automated greeting
- Greater convenience for customers
- No pre-recorded messages or scripted conversations for customers to endure
- Customers get the right type of help without having to navigate a menu
- Projects a professional impression to match that of larger enterprises
- Can fulfill numerous other tasks such as information gathering and making outgoing calls
- Fewer lost business opportunities (many people hang up on hearing an automated answering service
Your Business is Always Open
In addition to the benefits listed above, engaging a live virtual receptionist service is a great way to ensure your customers can speak to a real person at any time of the day or night.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a company that has virtual receptionists based in a country such as the Philippines, where English is widely spoken, the accent is neutral and the cost of 24/7 receptionist coverage is affordable.
This level of cover is particularly valuable if your business trades globally since your overseas customers will never have to deal with an automated service if they call outside of your daily office hours.
To summarise then,
Hiring a live virtual assistant is less expensive than employing somebody permanently, you have none of the burden associated with having staff on your payroll, but you get virtually the same degree of utility as an on-site receptionist could provide.
When you add the fact that your phones can be manned around the clock and your callers won’t be frustrated by scripts and menus, hiring a live virtual receptionist has to be a pretty compelling alternative to settling for a far less personable digital alternative.