Virtual Receptionists & Answering Service
Discover how virtual receptionists and answering services can improve your business. Learn about several top virtual receptionist service providers.
A virtual receptionist serves the same role as a traditional receptionist. Your virtual receptionist can answer phone calls, redirect your customers, take messages and schedule appointments. There are two types of virtual receptionists available. The less expensive option is to get an auto attendant. With an auto attendant, customers who call you reach an automated messaging service with interactive voice responses. Many companies use auto attendants because they are available 24/7 without having to pay for a call center staff.
For more complex messaging services, you can pay for live answering. With this answering service, you employ a remote receptionist to answer your calls. Live virtual receptionists follow a basic script you create, but can adapt and provide more details than an automated service. Customers also respond better to live answering, since it makes them feel important and appreciated enough to get a real person instead of automated service. Live answering is more expensive, since it requires an actual staff member. Some answering services provide hybrid features, allowing you to hire a live receptionist for specific times, then using an automated service for the rest of the day.
Benefits of Using a Virtual Receptionist
For the majority of businesses, the biggest appeal of choosing a virtual receptionist is the cost. A virtual receptionist is not as expensive as hiring a physical receptionist for your office. It also frees up your internal resources. This is especially helpful if you operate in a small location or even your own home, where you cannot reasonably employ a receptionist. It also saves you money on equipment cost, since you do not need to buy multiple phonelines or other resources a traditional receptionist needs.
A virtual receptionist ensures you have quality customer support no matter what time of day. With an increasing number of businesses running digital services and stores, this is important. You do not know when customers will access your website and run into issues. This is especially important if you run any sort of membership program or subscription service. Your receptionist can help with common issues, or redirect the customer to technical support for more elaborate problems.
Having a virtual receptionist also helps streamline your messages. Many companies hire multiple receptionists throughout the week. In many cases, each receptionist uses a different system, which can slow down productivity. With a virtual receptionist, the process is always the same. You can also set your receptionist to send alerts and reminders about important calls or meetings.
Common Services Provided by Virtual Receptionists
Virtual receptionist providers each offer different packages, but there are a few common services you can expect from every provider. All virtual receptionists will take messages, including who called, when they called and what their issue was. When necessary, your virtual receptionist can schedule appointments on your behalf, alerting you whenever a new appointment is added. Virtual receptionists can also patch and redirect phone calls when necessary. You can also hire your virtual receptionist to answer common questions. The complexity of the questions varies based on the service, with some virtual receptionists even providing simplistic customer support.
RingCentral specializes in automated virtual receptionists. The company uses a VoIP platform to host your virtual receptionist. You can program complex response trees with your virtual receptionist, with each account getting 250 voice menus and submenus. The basic plan costs $19.99 each month per user, up to a maximum of 20 users. A standard account is $24.99 per user, with no limit on the number of users you can add to the plan. You also receive on-demand call recording with the standard plan.
Smith.ai is one of the newest virtual receptionist services, but it has grown into one of the best receptionist providers for live services. The company specializes in small to medium businesses, providing 24/7 support. In addition to virtual receptionist services, you can also add a Smith.ai chatbot to your website. Smith.ai fields a wide range of receptionists, with experience in multiple industries. This also includes specialty fields, such as healthcare, real estate, e-commerce and home service industries.
Smith offers several plans, costing between $200 to $300 each month. While there are basic packages available, you can contact Smith directly to get a free consultation to create a custom plan based on your needs.
Ruby Receptionist is an automated virtual receptionist service that primarily works with smaller businesses. As part of the basic package, Ruby allows you to create in-depth FAQs. Ruby also provides an app for their members, allowing you to access your virtual receptionist even on the go. Each plan also includes custom voicemail services. They are one of the pricier options, but many of their bundled packages include other business services, including live chat and customer support. Ruby uses a monthly subscription service, charging per minute used. The basic package starts at $349 per month and provides 100 receptionist minutes. Ruby offers a 21-day free trial if you want to try out their services before committing to a monthly plan.