If you’ve given any thought to virtual assistants, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why you would pay someone to handle simple tasks you can easily do yourself. But there are several good reasons you may want to consider.
Why would you need a receptionist to answer your business’ phone when you can do it yourself? Or when you’ve got a team of eager employees who can easily do it?
If only business, and life, were that simple. All sorts of events can keep you from answering the phone.
You may be in a meeting. You might be completing a project with a deadline looming. You could be travelling. You may have left your phone on silent and missed the call. These things happen.
But when you’ve missed an important call from a customer or possibly a prospect looking to spend money with you, that little missed call becomes a big deal.
And you can’t always rely on employees when it comes to call answering.
It’s typically not their main job to answer the phone, and a phone ringing when they’re in the middle of a tasks or project is more likely to be seen as a distraction than an opportunity to help a customer.
That’s not responsive customer service. And that’s a problem because 27% of customers say ineffective service is their biggest frustration when dealing with a company.
How does a virtual receptionist help with all this (and what exactly is a virtual receptionist)?
A virtual receptionist is like a “traditional” receptionist in that they’ll answer the phone, take messages, forward calls to the right people, and provide basic information to customers.
The difference is a virtual receptionist works remotely and often for multiple businesses as part of a team.
But why would this be beneficial to your company?
Here are six reasons a virtual receptionist can be helpful to your enterprise.
1 – Improve your customer service on the phone.
More than three quarters of customers still prefer to use the phone and call a business to talk to a real person when they need help. It’s important to get these phone calls right, as nearly three quarters of customers say they’re “very likely” to take their business to another company if they have a poor experience on the phone.
With a virtual receptionist, you’ll never have to worry about a call going to voicemail or ringing endlessly until your now ex-customer hangs up and contacts your competition. Every call will be answered quickly and professionally, with callers either transferred to the right person or detailed notes taken so you can return the call later.
2 – Expand your business hours without working every hour.
From a commercial standpoint, it may make sense for your business to be open as long as possible. The more hours in the day you can sell, the more money you’ll make.
It’s not so great from a personal well-being perspective, though, when you have to work every hour available. And your family certainly won’t appreciate work calls getting in the way of dinner or stopping you from playing with the kids after work.
With a virtual receptionist, you can increase your operating hours (including having weekend phone cover) without needing to deal with everything yourself. Your virtual receptionist can answer calls and take messages for you to deal with the next day.
Or, if you have “VIP” clients you always want to deal with, those calls can be forwarded to your preferred number.
3 – Provide a more professional phone inquiry management process.
We’ve all had the experience of being transferred to another person to try to help us when we call a customer service number. And we’ve got our horror stories of the labyrinth of call options or missed transfers we’ve endured in automated phone mazes.
It’s very annoying and clearly communicates that the company would just rather not spend time on your issue. And it’s something 70% of customers say irritates them most about dealing with businesses on the phone.
It’s rarely the individual employee’s fault. Chances are they’ve never been shown how to use the phone, so have no idea how to properly transfer someone (this is something research has found to be true).
A virtual receptionist can remove this friction and professionalize your call handling. They’ll make sure callers get to the person they need to speak to, the first time.
4 – Give you and your team more time to focus on making money.
As important as some phone calls can be, you’ll probably find that most are just a drain on your time: Sales calls. Spam calls. Scam calls.
Even customers calling to ask frequent questions can take time away from adding value to your business and making more money. But you can’t risk not answering the phone. Virtual receptionists serve multiple purposes here.
First, they act as a barrier between you, your employees and the endless unsolicited calls you have to deal with. No, we don’t need help with an extended auto warranty. The printer’s working just fine, thanks. Internet service comes with the building.
These are all distractions your virtual receptionist can deal with instead of you.
A virtual receptionist can even help customers with basic enquiries about your business. They can answer questions about opening hours, for example. Or confirm the services you offer.
Whatever the call, your virtual receptionist ensures only the important ones (or those that do need your attention) get through to you.
5 – Help your sales team concentrate on the hottest leads.
Here’s a benefit you may not have considered: a virtual receptionist can be part of your sales and marketing teams, particularly regarding lead qualification.
According to salespeople, qualifying leads is the hardest, most time-consuming part of their job. And it’s risky having sales talk to prospects who aren’t ready to close when hotter leads are being ignored as a result.
You can manage this better by providing your virtual receptionist with your lead scoring framework.
If a sales prospect calls, your virtual receptionist can take them through the qualifying questions before passing them onto sales if they’re a sales-ready lead, or passing them to someone else (likely in marketing) who can help if not.
This ensures your sales professionals spend time selling, ultimately increasing your business revenue.
6 – Take juggling schedules off your plate.
Calendar management can seem like a full-time job. Or a constant struggle to “keep multiple balls in the air.”
You’re constantly keeping an eye on your time and trying to fit breaks and travel times in between more commitments on an ever-busier schedule. And that’s before you’re trying to coordinate with three or four other people to find a suitable meeting time that works for everyone.
It’s not productive for you to deal with. And with a virtual receptionist, you don’t need to. Your receptionist can take over your schedule management. They’ll book appointments on your calendar and provide meeting notes, so you know what to expect.
You don’t have to worry about creating conflicts, either. Because your diary will be updated in real-time, you can both see when new appointments are being made or where time is being blocked off.
Get the benefits of a receptionist without the costs and administrative overhead.
Virtual receptionists are a great alternative to a “traditional” receptionist because you only pay for the services you use, rather than paying a full-time salary.
Plus, hiring someone includes a lot of administrative tasks like tax withholding, insurance, sick pay, holiday pay, etc.. Investing in a virtual receptionist gives you all the benefits of an office-based receptionist without all the costs and hassle.
If professionalizing your call answering so you don’t lose customers is important, it’s an investment for you. If improving your responsiveness and customer service quality isn’t important, your competitors are likely willing to take the customer off your hands.