Customer contact is one of the most important features of a successful business.
As technology has advanced, business owners have been tempted to reduce costly person-to-person contact, using automation to replace real people. But there has been a backlash against automated services. More and more, businesses are finding that their customers prefer and demand a more personal touch.
One of the easiest ways to provide this human touch is through the telephone. Customers like picking up the phone and having a friendly voice answer when they need your services, or when they have a question. Instead of forcing employees to man the phones for hours at a time, it is sometimes better to outsource this part of your business to a live answer service, otherwise known as a virtual receptionist.
So, What is a Virtual Receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a real person (not a machine) who answers the phone for your business. Virtual receptionists field phone calls for a number of different companies. In this way, businesses can enjoy the convenience and effectiveness that comes with having a real human being answer their phones while sharing that expense with other companies.
This is how agencies can create a low-cost alternative to having one office employee sit by your phone throughout the day.
Small businesses have found that virtual receptionists allow other employees to focus on core services, rather than to mess around with administrative activities. Virtual receptionists can take over these small tasks and make everyone’s life easier around the office.
Another benefit is that virtual receptionists can work around the clock. Instead of having your callers greeted by an out-of-office message after 6 pm, these calls can be routed to the virtual receptionist call center, where a real person can assist them. As you can imagine, most customers prefer this approach to hearing something like, “Leave a message and someone will get back to you.”
A virtual receptionist can be an inexpensive and effective way to provide great customer service and make it easier for you to run your business.
What Services Do Virtual Receptionists Provide?
When you hire your virtual receptionist, he or she can be trained to perform any number of basic administrative tasks according to your specific instructions.
Virtual receptionists can:
• Take messages
• Book and confirm appointments
• Provide directions to your office
• Quote or dispatch services
• Forward time-sensitive or business-critical calls
• Forward messages to you or your staff by text message or email
• Make follow-up calls in order to gather feedback and help manage your reputation
• And much more!
Customer Service Ninjas
Virtual receptionists are a great way to enhance the quality of your company’s customer service in today’s competitive landscape. These days, it is common for a customer to be immediately greeted by a recorded message when calling for help.
Imagine how delighted you would be if you called the cable company and a human being immediately picked up the phone! It seems like science fiction, right?
Well, you can easily and affordably get that same reaction from your customers. Instead of having to jump through hoops and trudge through automated menus,
your customers can hear a friendly greeting and get the help that they need and deserve.
Nearly 60% have to re-explain an issue when speaking to customer service (Harvard Business Review)
Nurture Leads & Widen Your Sales Funnel
In addition to customer service, virtual receptionists can also help with the sales and marketing functions of your business.
Once trained, they can handle inbound sales calls. Virtual receptionists can gather the necessary information and pass it along to your sales team to follow up on the lead.
Many companies also integrate with software like Salesforce and Zendesk, so that your team’s busywork is limited. Your employees can focus on more important business activities, instead of spending valuable time tracking down basic information.
Over 50% will use a company more frequently after a positive experience (New Voice)
Customers Love Virtual Receptionists
Virtual receptionists are particularly helpful when dealing with emergencies and high-priority clients. If the CEO of a big client calls the office while you are out, you can train your virtual receptionist to forward the call to you. You don’t have to worry about leaving VIPs twisting in the wind until the next business day.
In addition to live answer phone services, virtual receptionists can also provide support over email and chat. With these platforms increasing in popularity, more and more customers are looking to find support from your team on these channels. Hiring a virtual reception partner can make it easy to implement these new ways of serving your customers.
Additionally, with a virtual receptionist, you can pass on the guarantee that your customers can always get in touch with a real person that will care about their problem and work to help resolve it. That can be a huge advantage over your competitors.
What to Look for in a Virtual Receptionist
That all sounds great, you say, but how will I know if the virtual receptionist I hire is right for me? There are a few key factors to consider when researching virtual reception service providers.
Providing outstanding customer support, every day and to everyone who calls, is challenging. You couldn’t be available 24/7, every day of the year even if you wanted to. Don’t miss opportunities to deliver excellent service or capture potential sales.
This is a no-brainer. State of the art software PBX with a VOIP infrastructure, an ability to integrate into third-party applications (think your CRM), real time billing and usage reports, and a highly qualified development team. Make sure your provider can offer all of this.
Your business and client information isn’t just sitting in some server closet in their building is it? What happens during an outage? Are they firing up a generator? Your provider should have redundant power sources, offer a virtualized tech infrastructure with 99% uptime and be constantly focused on the security of your data.
List of Services
Does the company offer the services you need? You might only need someone to answer the phone and take messages after hours. Or you may need them to help you nurture sales leads for forty hours per week. Usually, companies that provide a greater list of quality services will perform better with the small stuff too.
U.S. Based w/Bi-Lingual Support
The physical location can be an important factor. With a great virtual receptionist, most customers won’t even notice that the person they are speaking with doesn’t sit in the same office as your team. It puts customers at ease to know they are dealing with a local professional, rather than someone sitting halfway across the world. Plus, bi-lingual support is becoming crucial to high level customer service.
Go With Your Gut
Finally, a word of warning. There are a number of virtual receptionist services out there trying to build a large customer base by providing live answer services at the cheapest possible rates.
Be careful with these firms. After all, if you don’t feel the human touch when setting up your virtual reception provider, how well do you think they are going to treat your customers?
A Special Offer
Are you interested in trying out virtual receptionists for your office? Let the professionals at Answer 1 help you setup your virtual receptionist service.
Answer 1 offers a full range of live answer services, provided by local professionals at an unbelievably affordable rate. In fact, we are so confident you’ll love our service that we offer a 21-day Money Back Guarantee, no questions asked.
Click to download the ultimate guide to Virtual Receptionists.