The Complete Guide to Hiring a Virtual Receptionist

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What Is a Virtual Receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is a virtual secretary that picks up your phone, greets callers and takes messages on your behalf.

A virtual receptionist can work exclusively for you even though he or she is remote based, or you can utilize a virtual answering service where a team of virtual receptionists answers phone calls on behalf of many businesses.

What is a virtual receptionist and what can they do? What are the pros and cons of hiring a dedicated virtual secretary vs an answering service?

A virtual receptionist will not be able to answer your office’s landline telephone by default because he or she is not locally based; however, your virtual secretary can answer any VOIP phone line such as Google Voice, FreeTone or Line2.

Pro Tip: You can easily forward calls from your landline to another number by dialing star seven two (*72), waiting for three beeps followed by a dial tone, then entering the full number that you want calls forwarded to and then waiting for a confirmation tone. You may need to press the pound button for some carriers to get the confirmation tone. That’s it!

What Can a Virtual Receptionist Do?

Answer Phone Calls

Let’s face it, no one wants to speak to a computer. If customers are greeted with a voicemail or some sort of computerized answering service asking you to press buttons for different departments, they’re most likely going to hang up.

A virtual receptionist is a virtual secretary that picks up your phone, greets callers and takes messages on your behalf.

Despite AI being the buzzword of the day, the software available today simply can’t mimic a human virtual secretary. When artificial general intelligence (AGI) truly and finally comes around, we can debate this topic!

In contrast, callers will be impressed that you have a physical office with a physical front desk receptionist answering all of your phone calls, when in fact you are paying a fraction of the price for a remote based virtual assistant to answer your main business phone line.

Take Messages

A human virtual secretary is able to take detailed notes and messages and receive complex instructions from callers that a computer program couldn’t hope to do as of today. Furthermore, callers always rest more assured that their message will be delivered when they speak to an actual person.

Answer Questions

Your live virtual receptionist will be able to answer basic questions without needing to escalate or even take a message. For example, how many times have you yourself called a small business to ask them when they close for the day?

You can train your virtual receptionist to answer a variety of questions, from basic ones like business hours to more complex questions about your service offerings. Of course, you can always direct your virtual receptionist to take a message for more complex questions, especially those about your products or services.

Ask for Customer Information

One of the most important services that a virtual receptionist offers is the ability to confidently ask for the caller’s contact information. This is invaluable if you have customers who regularly call your main business phone line and don’t bother leaving a message.

If you have a high volume of calls, this will enable you to distinguish between customers who need to be called back by a sales specialist vs spam callers.

You can go one step further by having your virtual receptionist ask the customer which specific product or service of yours they are interested in. This will help you narrow down who needs to be called back and by whom on your team. For example, customers calling about a low margin product that is meant to be a self-service product might not warrant a call back, and you may wish to simply send them an email instead. However, if a customer is calling about a high value product, you may wish to call them back immediately yourself.

Pro Tip: Share a template on Google Drive with your virtual receptionist which contains hypothetical question and answer scenarios. You should give examples of how he or she might initially greet the caller as well as preferred responses to most questions.

Should You Hire a Dedicated Virtual Receptionist?

Yes, we highly recommend hiring your own, full-time virtual receptionist vs signing up for a phone answering service. If you have a full-time virtual receptionist, he or she can pick up the phone for you during business hours plus do other miscellaneous tasks that you assign.

Furthermore, you won’t be billed by the minute for every incoming call by a live answering service. In fact, you won’t be billed at all because you’re already paying your virtual receptionist a fixed salary. Therefore, the act of picking up the phone is simply one of your virtual receptionist’s daily tasks.

Pro Tip: You should outsource the virtual receptionist role to a lower cost, developing country like the Philippines or India. You can save 70% in employment expenses on average if you hire a virtual assistant based in the Philippines vs an in-person employee based in the United States. Make sure you work with a reputable business process outsourcing firm like Jobstob to set up and manage your virtual team.

What About Phone Calls During off Hours?

A full time virtual secretary obviously won’t be able to pick up your incoming phone calls around the clock. However, that shouldn’t be an issue unless you get a large volume of calls at night. That’s because customers generally understand that businesses aren’t open past 5pm or 6pm in most countries.

However, if you do get incoming phone calls from customers on a regular basis after business hours, you can consider hiring a second virtual receptionist for the night shift so that your calls are being answered 24/7.

Alternatively, you could also engage a call answering service that charges you by the minute only after business hours. This way, you won’t have to pay by the minute for the majority of your calls during the work day, but you’ll still have any occasional calls that come in by night be answered.

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Full-time, fluent, English speaking virtual assistants, designers, video editors and salespeople for $6 a hour.

Hire a Virtual Receptionist

Hire a fluent, English speaking virtual receptionist based in the Philippines through Jobstob for a fraction of the price.

We’ve re-imagined and simplified business process outsourcing from soup to nuts. Start by browsing our extensive selection of video resumes, and contact us once you’ve found a candidate you like. Or, we’d be happy to do a custom search for you.

We’ll source, screen, interview and test candidates to make the best use of your time. Once hired, we’ll take care of everything from a free trial period to payroll, time tracking, compliance and HR so you can focus on growing your business.

Hire a Virtual Assistant for $6 Per Hour

Save 70% when you outsource with Jobstob. Highly qualified virtual assistants, designers, video editors and more for a fraction of the price of a domestic hire.