What is a Virtual Receptionist?
Administrative workers have had many different titles over the years. There are many job titles for these professionals, ranging from front desk executive to secretary, information clerk to office assistant. Administrative positions frequently change, adapting to the new responsibilities that are thrust upon them. It’s no surprise that many of these roles have become virtual in the digital age.
A virtual receptionist is a real person who performs many of the same tasks as a traditional receptionist, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, and routing calls.
What makes a virtual receptionist different from a traditional administrative assistant? A traditional receptionist works in your office and is employed by your company. In contrast, a virtual receptionist is an outsourced service provider who works from a remote location (usually a call center).
A virtual receptionist service can typically cover your phone 24 hours a day, answering your calls long after an in-house employee has gone home for the day. Of course, the cost savings are significant – virtual receptionists are frequently less expensive than hiring an in-house administrative assistant.
What is the average pricing?
The service and its pricing model determine the cost of a virtual receptionist. The following are the most popular pricing models:
- Per-minute rate: A per-minute rate is usually determined by the services you choose and the volume of calls you make. The nominal rate is defined by your monthly call volume and the amount of time a virtual receptionist spends connecting with customers on your behalf.
- Monthly subscription: Some answering services offer monthly subscriptions that include a prepaid package of minutes that can be used whenever you need them. In general, these minutes do not expire, though this depends on the terms of the agreement you sign with each service. There are usually monthly minimums that specify the number of minutes you must use to keep your account active.
- Pricing tiers: Other answering services have tiers of pricing that allow you to prepay only for the services you require. You might choose a lower tier if you only need a simple automated menu to direct customer calls to in-house staff. More advanced features, such as a live agent who can answer frequently asked questions, may be available at a higher price point.
The cost of services varies depending on the services’ complexity and the expected call volume for your company. Per-minute rates typically range from 75 to 95 cents.
Because the answering service industry is known for including hidden fees and upcharges, you should read any contract carefully before signing. Some services, for example, charge for what’s known as agent work time. This refers to the time when an agent is not on the phone but is still working on your account, and it can significantly increase your monthly bill.
Incremental billing, which occurs when companies round your minutes to the nearest increment, is another common upcharge. The standard increment for a call is the sixth second, but some companies round up to the nearest minute. Even if the nominal per-minute rate appears low, incremental billing can significantly increase your monthly bill.
Request a black-and-white breakdown of every fee and cost that you might incur during the life of your agreement with any answering service or virtual receptionist to avoid surprises on your bill. A reputable company will gladly provide you with that information.
What does a Virtual Receptionist do?
Here are just a few of the services virtual receptionists provide for clients, all while appearing to be an extension of their company:
Answering FAQs: Virtual receptionists are used by businesses ranging from doctor’s offices to martial arts instructors to landscapers to answer calls asking for business hours, addresses, and various other simple questions, allowing them to focus on their work.
Taking messages: The bread and butter of a virtual receptionist. They’ll take your call however you want, record the caller’s information and message, and then forward it to you, so you don’t miss anything important.
Collect leads: Your virtual receptionist will collect all lead information when you receive a call from an interested party so you can keep track of callers and follow up as needed. Your virtual receptionist can easily update your CRM or other customer databases with lead information if you already have one.
Scheduling appointments: Virtual receptionists are usually able to work with any scheduling software you already have. They can take client calls and schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments for any business type as needed.
Processing orders: Any orders are welcome! Virtual receptionists can handle everything from e-commerce phone orders to maintenance requests to outage reports during a natural disaster.
After-hours support: When you use virtual receptionists, you can rest assured that whoever calls you will always get a live person, not a voicemail box. Allow your virtual receptionists to take as few or as many calls as you’d like throughout the day, after hours, on weekends and holidays, or any combination of those times.
Live transfers: Perhaps you’d like to see who’s calling before deciding whether to answer it yourself or delegate it to a virtual receptionist. This is made possible by live call transfer. If you don’t answer, calls ring to you first, then to a virtual receptionist after a few rings. It’s also possible to go in the opposite direction: Virtual receptionists can take every call, put the caller on hold while they contact you, ask if you want to take the call, and then direct the caller to you. In any case, you’re in command.
The point is that now more than ever, answering every call is critical, and there aren’t always enough hours in the day to do so amid everything else that comes with running a business. Receptionists who work in-house are costly. Virtual receptionists are cost-effective, always available, and trained to deliver your company’s message exactly how you want it every time.
Are you looking for a reputable virtual receptionist company? Callhounds Global provides virtual receptionist solutions to businesses in customer-centric solid industries. Our receptionists are equipped with top-tier equipment and technology for a smooth and efficient call.