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Complete Checklist on How to Pick the Best Virtual Receptionist Phone System

Choosing a virtual receptionist is important, after all it's your caller’s first impression of your team! SO how do you pick the best receptionist for your team? We’re here to help!
Olivia Maier

Olivia Maier

10 min read

What we have for you today:

We are here to help you determine the best receptionist phone system for you and your team. We’re going to start by going into the basics of business phone systems, as well as what a virtual receptionist is. From there, we’re going to discuss the features that you have to have available in order to have an effective virtual receptionist. To do that, we’re going to break things down into an easy to understand checklist.

We’ll even show you how to use the checklist as we compare some of the best business phone systems that can operate as a virtual receptionist phone system, including:

  • Yodel.io
  • Dialpad
  • Aircall

If that sounds good to you, then we are excited for you to read and become an expert on virtual receptionist phone systems, and to have the tools you’ll need to make informed comparisons between providers.

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What are Business Phone Systems?

A business phone system is simply a telephone that is set up to allow multiple lines on the same business phone number. You can access business phone systems through traditional telephone lines, or take advantage of a more modern solution: The cloud business phone.

A cloud based phone system is an internet based system that no longer requires phone lines to connect between callers. This gives you access to a more flexible solution, that can be accessed from anywhere you have a good internet or data connection. Many people have made the switch to cloud based phone systems for their business due to the wide range of features offered, as well as the affordable pricing and ease of scaling these phone systems.

While traditional business phone systems are able to offer some virtual receptionist features, we are going to be focusing on cloud based phone systems. That’s because if you are searching for a new phone system anyways or trying to implement a virtual receptionist, you should be making the switch to a cloud based phone! Virtual receptionists are just some of the benefits that a cloud based system can provide, and a cloud based system will overall leave you better equipped to do business in 2022.

How can a Virtual Receptionist Work with my Business Phone System?

Let’s get started by looking at what a virtual receptionist even is. You’re probably familiar with a traditional receptionist, who does the following:

  • Sets the tone for your business
  • Improves the productivity of your team
  • Increases call handling efficiency

Well, in 2022, what if we told you that your phone system can act as a receptionist that lives within your phone?

The expenses associated with a traditional receptionist can be a huge barrier, between increasing your payroll, budget for benefits, and onboarding and training, the expenses really add up fast. 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 salary is just one component.

Expenses aren’t the only barrier to having a traditional receptionist. Receptionists just don’t make sense for many teams, but the benefits of having one still might be desirable. That’s where a virtual receptionist can come in. There are primarily two kinds of virtual receptionists:

A live remote working receptionist, and virtual receptionist software.

A live remote working receptionist is technically a virtual receptionist, as they are working virtually for a company. However this kind of receptionist has the same drawbacks as a traditional live receptionist, as they still require big budgetary commitments.

That’s why we are focusing on virtual receptionist software. Virtual receptionist software is able to take on the same tasks as a live receptionist, without requiring a real employee. This is made possible by a combination of features that allow you to greet your callers, effectively handle incoming calls, and route incoming calls to the appropriate team members.

The best virtual receptionist will work WITHIN your business phone system. While there are integrations that can be implemented with your phone system to create a virtual receptionist, this isn’t a perfect solution. If you are able to access a business phone system that comes with virtual receptionist capabilities then you won’t have to worry about setting up the integration, and dealing with potential complications between the systems. Instead it is easier, and oftentimes cheaper, to switch to a business phone system that allows you to access a virtual receptionist.

The virtual receptionist software that exists within business phone systems is made up of a collection of features that enable the same capabilities a live receptionist would have. Now that you are an expert on virtual receptionists, we’re going to go into the features that are essential to create an effective virtual receptionist.

Complete Features Checklist:

  1. Cloud-based:

    This is more of a logistical component than a feature, but it is crucial to consider. As we said before, a cloud based phone system should be a must have for your business due to many of the typical benefits which can include: lower prices, improved features, increased accessibility and scalability.

    However, cloud based systems are especially important for virtual receptionists. A cloud-based system will automatically store important data so you don’t have to worry about losing caller information, and you can access this information without having to worry about your own internal storage capabilities. A cloud based system can also ensure important security measures such as encrypted calls.

    If you are switching your phone system anyways to access a virtual receptionist, it just makes sense to switch to the best technology available. That would mean taking advantage of a cloud based business phone system.

  2. 24/7 capabilities:

    Your virtual receptionist is no longer restricted to normal business hours. Your virtual receptionist software should be able to handle calls both during and outside of your traditional office hours. However, you clearly don’t want calls being routed if there isn’t anyone to answer them.

    With features such as Office Hours you’ll have an adequate way to handle calls at all hours of the day. Office hours will greet callers with a welcome message, and remind your callers what your typical business hours are. From there, your callers will be routed to voicemail. The message will help make sure that your callers are still getting a personal interaction with your business, instead of just being automatically routed 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.

    Even outside of normal office hours, make sure your callers are getting a personal experience through 24/7 capabilities of a virtual receptionist.

  3. Welcome message and greeting:

    Your virtual receptionist should help to set the tone for your business. With a custom welcome message and greeting you will be able to give your business phone system a flavor of your own business personality. Your callers will appreciate the effort you are making to connect with them, even before you are routed the call.

    Your welcome message can also convey important information that a traditional receptionist may convey, such as typical working hours as well as any important updates. If you are looking for an especially effective solution, make sure that you are able to similarly customize your music or message on hold. That way you can provide similar benefits and messaging across different points of your business phone communication.

  4. Voice IVR:

    A traditional receptionist is able to route callers based on the information they hear in real time. Most callers are sick of hearing what has become the norm for phone systems that don’t have a receptionist of any kind, which is the dreaded phone menu. I’m sure the last time that you heard something similar to “press 1 for sales, press 2 for billing” you considered hanging up.

    That is why your team should take advantage of effective call routing capabilities and utilize voice based IVR. This way your business still gets the benefits of a call routing menu, such as effective automatic routing. But now your customers can simply speak as they would to a traditional receptionist, and a voice based IVR can route them correctly after determining caller intent.

  5. Voicemail and live transcriptions

    A traditional receptionist can help out your team by taking and sharing helpful notes. Your virtual receptionist should be able to do the same.

    Voicemail transcriptions can provide an automatically generated text of any voicemail message that is left for your team. That way you can keep track of information, and even receive the messages from your voicemail even when audio files aren’t convenient.

    With live transcriptions you can similarly benefit from having an automatically generated text version of your call. These transcripts can help you easily review completed calls, and won’t require you to juggle multitasking your phone call with note taking.

    Taking advantage of transcriptions can really help your phone communication become even more effective.

  6. Smart integrations:

    Look for a virtual receptionist that makes sense with the tools that your team is already using. If you are accessing an intelligent business phone system, then you will be able to access integrations into your CRM, SaaS, or other business tools.

    Look for systems that can easily connect with the tools you already are using and love. That way you can avoid harmful information silos, as well as see increased benefits from whatever tools you are using!

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The Best Virtual Receptionist Systems

Now that you have a helpful checklist of features on your side, let’s look at some of the top cloud based phone systems and see how they are able to join your team as a virtual receptionist.

Not to be bias… but let’s start with Yodel:

Yodel is proud to offer an intelligent cloud-based business phone system that comes equipped with virtual receptionist features. This system is set at an affordable price of between $25/user/month and $35/user/month. The following features and capabilities are available, and can help equip your team with an effective virtual receptionist.

  • The ability to set customizable greetings, and music or a message on hold
  • Intelligent voice based IVR
  • Office hours: When your callers call outside of your business hours, Yodel will direct them to helpful information about your operating hours before taking them to your voicemail.
  • Smart integrations: Whether your team lives in Slack, relies on your CRM system, or you are looking to streamline your workflow, Yodel will fit in seamlessly with your favorite business tools.
  • Canned responses: You are now able to handle incoming calls without even picking up the phone! Easily select from your list of pre-written customized canned responses, which will be read out to your callers as an audio message. The canned responses can be used to inform callers about average wait times, updates on your product, and more.

Dialpad as a virtual receptionist

Dialpad is a cloud based system that offers auto attendant capabilities, which is included in their pricing for between $15/user/month and $25/user/month. Dialpad’s auto attendant is advertised with the following features:

  • Active during specified business hours (does not appear to be a 24/7 solution)
  • Call routing: It is not specified if this is through traditional or voice based IVR capabilities.
  • Custom messages: This functionality works similarly to canned responses, but it is not clear how they are able to be deployed and when.
  • Traditional IVR: this is the traditional “press 1… press 2” menu.

What about Aircall?

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, some of which are able to provide a virtual receptionist for your team.

  • Customizable greetings, and music or a message on hold
  • Voice based IVR to route calls
  • Business text messaging capabilities
  • Integrations into business tools such as Zapier, and Hubspot

In the End…

We hope that you can take advantage of our virtual receptionist phone system features checklist as you search for your new phone system. As we said, we recommend looking at cloud based systems as they are able to offer some of the most robust systems at some of the most accessible price ranges.

With this checklist in hand, you will be able to easily search through long lists of features to ensure that the virtual receptionist tools your business needs will be within the provider you are looking at.

If you are looking to get started with a virtual receptionist, then test out Yodel today! You can get started with a free trial, as well as receive personalized advice through one of our demo calls.

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