You are already familiar with a traditional receptionist, but you might be wanting to explore a virtual receptionist service. Understanding a virtual receptionist is easiest when we first start by looking at what a traditional receptionist can offer.
A traditional receptionist is your business’ frontline, and is able to have a major impact on the impression you give your callers. Starting your calls off with a friendly, professional, and welcoming experience will help set the tone not just for that one call. Starting a call off right can lead to a better brand perception, and can contribute majorly to a positive call experience.
A receptionist can instantly improve your team’s productivity. Instead of every incoming call stopping every team member in their tracks when the phone rings, your receptionist is able to filter and screen calls, as well as route them to the appropriate team or team members. This helps your team avoid harmful distractions, leading to a more productive workday.
While routing contributes to call handling efficiency, a receptionist can take things a step further. Your receptionist can find out exactly why your callers are contacting your business, and what needs they want to have addressed. Your receptionist can then alert your team members to this helpful information before your call even begins. This can help your calls go as smoothly as possible.
One of the largest barriers to having a traditional receptionist is the cost, having a traditional receptionist comes with increasing your payroll, budget for benefits, and will require an onboarding and training period. This is a significant cost for businesses of all sizes, no matter if you are a small business or large enterprise. The fact of the matter is that receptionists in the US have an average salary of over $35,000 a year, and that doesn’t account for every expense associated with increasing the size of your team.
Even if your team can afford a traditional receptionist, there are other things to be considered. If your team is largely remote, it may not make sense to have an in-person receptionist added to your team. If you’re a small or solo team, you may want some of the functionalities of a receptionist but don’t require all of the capabilities of a receptionist.
Regardless of why, having a traditional receptionist isn’t a good fit for everyone. And we have a secret to share with you…
Even when a traditional receptionist is a good fit, a virtual receptionist may be an even better fit.
Well, let’s think back to that list of capabilities a traditional receptionist can offer your business. A virtual receptionist can do all of those things, and more!
Let’s clear up some potential confusion. Some people will refer to a live (human) attendant that works remotely as a virtual receptionist. That isn’t what we are talking about here, as those types of receptionists still have the same drawbacks as a traditional receptionist.
Instead, a virtual receptionist software is able to take on the tasks and responsibilities of a live receptionist, without requiring an extra employee to do so. Virtual receptionists are able to field incoming calls, discover customer intent, route calls to the appropriate team members, and more. The best services? Those are the ones who give your team the ability to still have the benefits that come from having a personable and welcoming start to your incoming calls. That is done through features such as welcome messages, canned responses, and more.
Virtual receptionist softwares should be easy to use, and easy to get started with. We’re here to help you explore a variety of virtual receptionist services, so you can select the one that best suits your business needs.
Before we launch into comparing different services, we wanted to give you a list of different buzzwords and features you should be looking for when considering adopting a virtual receptionist software service. If you already know what you are looking for, it can still be helpful to check out our list to see if there are any features you may have forgotten about. If you are just getting started with your virtual receptionist search, this list can also help you figure out exactly what will work for your team.
One of the best things about a virtual receptionist service is that you can really tailor your system to your business’ needs. That means you can find a system that has the right combination of features for your team, without overwhelming you or your budget with hundreds of features that may go unused.
24/7 capabilities: A major benefit of a virtual receptionist, as opposed to a live traditional receptionist, is that your software should have a plan on how to handle calls both during and outside of your business hours.
Pro tip: Look for a virtual receptionist service that reminds callers of your business hours and can deliver a customer message, instead of automatically routing to voicemail. That way your callers won’t feel like they wasted their time, or have left a voicemail message that may never get reviewed.
Cloud-based: This is more of a logistical component than a feature, but it is crucial to consider. With a cloud-based system, you avoid having to manage on premise hardware and the expenses that come with that. As a bonus, a cloud-based system will automatically store important data so you don’t have to worry about losing caller information.
Welcome message and greeting: This is one of the features that can help you still retain the benefits of having a friendly voice set the tone of your calls. Custom welcome messages, music, and greetings can help your callers feel attended to and leave them with a positive impression of your business’ phone experience.
Call routing: One of the most important functionalities of a traditional receptionist is having the ability to send calls to the right team member. A virtual receptionist absolutely must have call routing capabilities to be an effective replacement for a live receptionist.
Pro tip: We all are sick of hearing “press 1 for sales, press 2 for billing” menu options. Using the keywords Intelligent IVR, or Voice IVR can help you find systems that listen to your callers speak in live time, and route them appropriately.
Smart integrations: Look for a virtual receptionist that makes sense with the tools that your team is already using. That includes a phone system that can help your team build an intelligent business tool ecosystem. A virtual receptionist makes the most sense when it is paired with a business phone system.
Pro tip: Look for an intelligent business phone system that allows for virtual receptionist capabilities that can further integrate into other business tools and software such as your CRM systems.
We’re first focusing on cloud-based phone systems that can offer virtual receptionist capabilities. As discussed above, these systems come with unique benefits that live remote receptionists as well as on-premise systems can’t offer your team.
We are proud to offer an intelligent cloud-based business phone system that comes equipped with virtual receptionist features at an affordable price of between $25/user/month and $35/user/month. Our virtual receptionist comes with the following features and capabilities:
Bonus virtual receptionist feature: Canned responses!
Handle incoming calls without even picking up the phone, by easily selecting pre-written customized canned responses that will be read out to your callers as an audio message. This way your team can still have personal interactions, even when you’re too busy to pick up the phone.
Aircall is a cloud-based phone system that will run your team between $30/user/month and $50/user/month. Aircall is able to offer a variety of features, which can be paired together to create a virtual receptionist.
Dialpad is a cloud based system that offers auto attendant capabilities, included in their pricing for between $15/user/month and $25/user/month. Dialpad’s auto attendant, which functions as a virtual receptionist, is advertised with the following features:
If you aren’t convinced about the benefits of a cloud-based phone system that comes equipped with virtual receptionist capabilities, we wanted to extend our list to provide you with information on other styles of virtual receptionists.
Ruby is a virtual receptionist service that offers live receptionists who work remotely.
Pricing is based on how many minutes the receptionist is active per month. For example, for 50 minutes per month, Ruby will cost your team $219/month.
Ruby offers 7 on hold music options, and will continue to answer calls after your set business hours. Ruby is operated on a mobile app, which will give your team access to usage alerts and voicemail transcriptions.
MapCommunications is a 24/7/365 virtual receptionist service that uses live remote working receptionists. The pricing for a standard plan is $43 per month for on-demand use, which is billed at the cost of $1.27 per minute.
MapCommunications allows you to create a custom script for greetings, and has U.S. based bilingual teams available. However, you aren’t able to customize MapCommunications with custom hold music or messages.
If you are looking for a remote working receptionist, you may also consider adding a full time employee to your team. This employee would be your designated receptionist, and you could have full control over the customization of your greeting and call handling.
This will be the most expensive option, as it requires an additional team member. If you do select an in-house remote solution, consider switching to a VoIP phone system to best support your team.
Live virtual receptionists can be a very big expense, regardless of if you go with an in-house solution or use a virtual receptionist service. Live virtual receptions through a receptionist service can be hard to budget for, as the used minutes could vary dramatically per month.
Even if you are interested in a live virtual receptionist, many virtual receptionist softwares will come with a free trial for your business to test out. You can compare having a totally software based receptionist to a live virtual receptionist, and have more information to help you make this investment.
A receptionist in general can be a huge asset for your team. Going with a virtual receptionist software can provide you with a cost-effective way to improve your call handling and your caller experience.
If you are looking to get started today, check out Yodel’s free 14 day trial. You can also schedule a demo call or tune into one of our live webinars to learn more about Yodel, and how we can be the perfect new addition (and receptionist) for your team.