What is a Virtual Receptionist?

Peyton Duplechien • 07 Oct 2019 • 9 min read

What is a virtual receptionist?


If you’re a big enough business or part of an industry that regularly serves customers, you’re no doubt familiar with the role provided by receptionists. They’re there to handle all the incoming calls and keep your business-customer interactions running smoothly, letting you focus on the important tasks at hand.

Therefore, you might assume that a Virtual Receptionist fulfils much the same role. And while this is true to an extent there are several differences that help them to stand apart from regular, in-house receptionists.

So, to help you understand what these are, we’ve broken down exactly what a virtual receptionist is, what they do, and the benefits of a virtual receptionist working for your business.

All to show you exactly what VoiceNation can do for you!


What is a virtual receptionist?


First things first, let’s look at what a virtual receptionist is, and fortunately, the answer is pretty self-explanatory.

In essence, a virtual receptionist performs the same functions as a traditional, front-of-house receptionist — namely answering your business’ lines, screening and forwarding calls, taking messages, routing callers to voicemail, and arranging your schedule.

However, the distinguishing trait, as you may have guessed, is that they do this all remotely or virtually. But that’s in no way to say that virtual receptionists aren’t real people. They’re just exceptionally trained professionals who work outside of your office.

Through the use of the phone alone, they can ensure your customers, leads, and business network interface function as they should, all while providing a warm and personable touchpoint to meet and greet callers with.


What does a virtual receptionist do?


In most cases, the role of a virtual receptionist will mirror that of an in-house receptionist, with only a few minor differences. For example, the call flow for virtual receptionists might occur in the following manner:


  1. Clients place the incoming call: a client or business constituent dials your business phone number or your personal line, depending on your receptionist’s needs. That number is hosted by your answering service and automatically routed straight to your receptionist.
  2. Your receptionist answers: your assigned receptionist then greets the caller with a personable, professional greeting. Our receptionists follow notes and scripts tailored to your organization’s key greeting talking points, ensuring you’re represented properly without sounding like a robot.
  3. Calls are forwarded via the appropriate channel: after greeting your customers and discussing their needs, your receptionist will either handle their request personally or forward it to the appropriate person in the business. This often means connecting the caller to your personal business line or directing the caller to voicemail, if necessary, as well as offering to take a message personally, and then relaying it to the intended recipient later down the line.


Essentially, a virtual receptionist will seamlessly fill the role of a go-between for you and your customers, taking calls when you can’t, including when you’re out of the office. And depending on your needs, a virtual receptionist’s day-to-day duties may also include:


  1. Arranging appointments: receptionists can serve as your liaison to schedule important business appointments between you and valuable business constituents. Think vendors, contractors, consultants, third-party managed services providers, etc…
  2. Handling bookings: receptionists can field internal and external booking requests, either for outsiders looking to use your facilities or for your own event venue needs and purposes.
  3. Fielding caller questions: using scripts drafted and approved for your organization, your receptionist can be trained to answer customer support questions in real time. They’ll also be able to direct the caller to additional resources that may help them with their inquiry, adding even further value-add to the exchange.


How virtual receptionists improve customer service


One of the key factors as to why you might want to use a virtual receptionist is to improve your customer service – after all, good customer service is the hallmark of a good business.

Below are just some of the ways a virtual receptionist can facilitate this:


1. They help to nail customer first impressions


According to several studies, the rise of the omnichannel customer experience means that roughly one out of every four prospects will go straight from searching your website to making a direct business phone call if they see what they like.

And this means that nailing their first impression is absolutely essential.

Those same prospects are almost certainly going to respond far better to a warm, engaging pick-up, rather than something bland and generic — particularly if they’ve called to learn details about your products or services – and are far more likely to invest in your services.


2. They can build meaningful relationships


Virtual receptionists are dedicated almost exclusively to public interfacing activities, which automatically classifies their role as something akin to customer service. And what is true customer service if not a key part of customer relationship building?

In most cases, your virtual receptionist can act as a friendly FAQ directory, a knowledgeable switchboard, and a brand liaison, all rolled into one and able to happily communicate with callers and collect relevant servicing details to make their call a good experience.

All this builds an organic rapport with callers that paves the way for positive future relationships.


3. They personify your business


In many cases, your virtual receptionist may be the first interaction a prospect has with your brand, so they need to get across what your business stands for clearly and succinctly.

The tone, helpfulness, and quality of a phone exchange will reflect significantly on the overall impression a caller takes away about the nature of your business, which is why virtual receptionists will do everything they can to emulate your business exactly how you want them to.


4. They present brand consistency


With a dedicated team of virtual receptionists, you can use scripts to personalize your customers’ interactions with your organization. This means they come trained with the how, when, and why of your business to deliver a consistent representation of your brand with each and every call.


What are the benefits of a virtual receptionist?


So, we’ve seen how a virtual receptionist can improve customer service overall, but what other bonuses can they bring to the table? Belo0w are the other core advantages of a virtual receptionist:


1. They keep you productive


One of the core advantages of a virtual receptionist, by investing in this sort of service, you can limit the interruptions you experience throughout the day, meaning you can get more important work done.

Virtual receptionists can execute a spectrum of calling operations, from confirming appointments to returning inquiries to sourcing and collecting additional information for a business concern, all so you don’t have to handle running a Live Answering Service yourself.


2. They save your business money


Unlike traditional in-house staff, today’s virtual receptionist answering services cost a fraction of their price yet perform the exact same role, letting you effectively cut potential business costs.

Plus, this service model alleviates you from time-consuming and cost-prohibitive employee training and complicated benefits programs, as well as coordinating sick leave, vacations, and similar policies, so you know you always have a receptionist you can rely on.


3. They reduce your administrative responsibilities


Organizations of all shapes and sizes operate best when their employees possess a clear sense of purpose, with employees being aware of their job requirements and equipped to perform their complete spectrum of role-specific expectations, keeping work in the office running smoothly.

Virtual receptionists sit at the heart of this. Their administrative role orchestrates many front and back-office activities, freeing others to work on the tasks and projects imperative to their place in the organizational structure for a greater degree of overall work efficiency.


4. They elevate your professionalism


Externally, having a receptionist can imbue your business with newfound levels of scale and professionalism. Callers respond positively to the personal attention given by your virtual receptionist, meaning they’ll likely leave interactions with the impression your organization is a well-managed and efficient one.

Internally, a virtual receptionist supports better time management, delegation, and communication skills, which is an important thing to have for small and large businesses alike.


5. They offer you peace of mind


Virtual receptionists ensure every call is answered every single time, so you’re covered both in or outside business hours, over vacations, across the holidays, or even during a non-stop day in the office where you simply don’t have time to be distracted.


6. They boost your customer service offerings


Using a virtual receptionist allows you to extend your customer servicing business hours well outside normal hours. As a result. new and prospective clients alike can benefit from the broadened opportunity to have their questions answered or problems mitigated at any time of the day, all from the convenience of a phone call.

On top of this, your receptionist answering service provider will also ensure the quality of such calls. The best answering services conduct ongoing receptionist training as well as formal employee rating and review programs at all times.

They’ll even monitor a tailored number of phone calls to ensure your virtual receptionists perform in a way that best represents your brand, communicating with constituents in a warm, engaging, and informative manner no matter the nature of the call.


7. They put everyone on the same page


Within your organization, a virtual receptionist can seamlessly route callers to the right place. This means customers receive personalized care regarding their exact questions or concerns from a team member dedicated to their assistance.

Whether the call’s final recipient is right there in the office or halfway across the country, receptionists ensure that inquiries are funnelled exactly where they need to go without delay.

Alongside this, virtual receptionists also play a key role in ensuring calls are aligned with your schedule and priorities. Your receptionist will relay information to you ahead of time about the nature of the call before connecting the transfer, ensuring call purpose and clarity.


8. They still provide that human touch


More and more consumers today expect personalized attention from businesses they interact with. Using a virtual receptionist meets that demand head-on, providing actual human assistance across the spectrum of customer service calls your business tends to.

Good virtual receptionists will be friendly and informative experts at handling the nuances that come with customer care. What’s more, that assistance will be available in real-time — without making the caller work through an automated queue.


How to choose a virtual receptionist service


By now it should be clear as to just how a virtual receptionist can help your business, which leaves just one question – how do you make sure you choose one of high quality? After all, the quantity of receptionists provided is not synonymous with quality.

We recommend considering these five characteristics when vetting your potential virtual receptionist answering service to help determine which provider makes the best fit for your business:



1. Availability


First, you need to know what hours are vital for your organization to have a real-time receptionist on hand for customer communication — and what hours would be valuable customer service add-ons.

Be sure your potential answering service can provide around-the-clock live receptionists that meet those demands — including weekends and holidays — otherwise they might not be best suited for your needs.


2. Consistency


Next, you need to know if your business will be assigned the same virtual receptionist or group of team members each and every time. Consistency is key here, as the last thing you want is a random receptionist who doesn’t know your business taking your calls.


3. Service inclusions and add-ons


Live answering is only the surface layer available amongst today’s virtual receptionist providers. If you want to get the most out of such a service, you should also look for companies that offer:


  • Voicemail administration and monitoring
  • External call duties
  • Calendar scheduling
  • Custom greetings and service scripts
  • Bilingual communications
  • Dispatching
  • Message couriering


You should also inquire as to whether or not a potential answering service can host your telephone number, as this makes it far easier for your receptionist to conduct their full range of assistance.

You could even discuss if a service provider maintains any additional customer tools, such as mobile apps or online dashboards that give you instant and direct access to your virtual reception for easy management.


4. Performance management


Some companies might prefer to monitor and rate receptionists internally, while others look to their answering service provider for ongoing performance management. Consider which you’d prefer to ensure call and answering quality, as well as the time and resources needed to assure objective, metric-based performance reviews.

It’s also pertinent at this stage to inquire about the location of the virtual receptionists themselves. Do receptions work from home or from a central call center, as this could affect call quality.


5. Pricing


Last, but not least, you’ll also have to consider pricing. Here, there are three main models you need to be aware of:


  1. By the minute: companies charge only for the time the receptionist spends interfacing one-on-one with a caller.
  2. By the end-to-end service: companies charge according to the collective services rendered to complete a call transaction, which may include the minutes a receptionist spends talking to a customer, the customer’s transfer to your direct line, the connection to your voicemail, and the minutes aggregated during your return call.
  3. Bulk service package: companies charge a flat rate based on the level and depth of services administered to your office.


Choose VoiceNation for your virtual receptionists


With all that information finally out of the way, you should now know exactly what a virtual receptionist can do for your business. And there’s no better place to start your search than by taking a look at what we have to offer here at VoiceNation.

As one of the nation’s top live-answering business solutions, we’ve mastered the full range of modern virtual receptionist and answering services, all geared toward one goal — helping you build the best connections with your customers at a fraction of the cost of an in-house receptionist — without sacrificing call convenience, quality or care.

Start a free trial of our virtual receptionist services to see for yourself or get in touch to learn more about our price packages. Don’t forget to take a look at our other blogs as well for more informative articles, such as the top 5 virtual receptionist qualities.