Q: What’s the difference between a virtual assistant and a virtual receptionist?
A: While both types of virtual help serve a multitude of roles, virtual receptionists are more specialized than virtual assistants. Virtual receptionists also tend to be far cheaper and require less instruction and monitoring.
Roughly half of the people who transitioned to working remotely say they have more flexibility now than before. – pewresearch.org
With statistics like that, it’s no surprise that the modern workplace has shifted to remote and virtual offices. They offer more flexibility, cut down on commutes, and save businesses money on rentals.
Many professionals also find coworking spaces to be a welcome respite from the distractions that come with WFH. While coworking used to be more popular for start ups, the self-employed, and solopreneurs, now many solo attorneys and financial professionals benefit from using coworking offices.
No matter what the work case may be, a virtual office revolution seems to be underway.
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As a result, hiring virtual help has increased in popularity among small business owners.
Virtual assistants and receptionists can help small businesses handle their many duties without having to rent out traditional workplaces or share a geographic location.
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But many small business owners don’t know what they need from their virtual help. They’re unsure what the different services available are, how they differ, and which is right for them.
If this sounds like you, fear not. This article will dive into the two main kinds of virtual help available on the market, helping you understand the difference so you can make an informed decision.
- What is a virtual assistant?
- What is a virtual receptionist?
- What are the differences between the two?
- Which is right for your small business?
The Rise of Virtual Help
Virtual help has grown in popularity for more reasons than one.
The workplace has been shifting from the physical to the virtual workspace for some time now.
The obvious catalyst to the increased prevalence of virtual helpers is the shift to flexible workspaces.
A sharp increase in small business owners setting up virtual offices has seen office staff evolving into the virtual space as well.
This allows small businesses the benefit of delegating operations without having to provide expensive workspaces for their office staff.
That isn’t the only reason for the trend though. Virtual help is also typically far more affordable than hiring full-time employees.
With outsourcing and the gig economy becoming ever more predominant, virtual help at work was inevitable. It allows the traditional services of office staff to compete with the lower overhead of gig workers.
Finally, there’s the increased talent pool available. Because virtual workers aren’t limited geographically, small businesses are able to hire help that is perfectly matched to their needs.
This increase in accessibility means small business owners can get the best return on investment while virtual help can find businesses that suit their talents and interests.
All that said, not all virtual help is the same.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are quickly gaining popularity.
Typically operating as remote independent contractors, virtual assistants perform a variety of tasks.
The title isn’t exceptionally well defined. This is intentional, as each virtual assistant has their own unique skills that they offer to their clients.
Typically, virtual assistants provide primarily administrative and organizational skills.
Virtual assistants may do work like scheduling, organizing files, responding to emails, and performing basic bookkeeping are all examples of standard virtual assistant duties.
That said, some virtual assistants go beyond administration. It’s not uncommon to see virtual assistants that lean more heavily into the technical side of business operations.
These individuals may help with IT, doing anything from coding to monitoring and managing online advertising campaigns.
While there are a plethora of platforms from which to hire a virtual assistant, the process of finding one can be long and confusing.
Because there’s so much heterogeneity between virtual assistants, you have to do your research before hiring one.
You’ll need to know exactly what you want your virtual assistant to do for you before starting your search.
Even if you’re crystal clear on what duties you want to delegate, you’ll still be in for some research.
If you want to get the best return on your money, you’ll want to hire a virtual assistant with just the right skill set so you don’t wind up paying for skills you don’t intend to use.
This can make the process of getting the right virtual business help a painstaking one.
What is a Virtual Receptionist?
Virtual receptionists are professionally trained receptionists that operate remotely.
When you hire a virtual receptionist, you’re provided a dedicated business phone number for registration and listing purposes.
When customers and business contacts call this number, it connects to the call center where your virtual receptionist is waiting to answer. Your receptionist will then handle the call in whatever manner you’ve agreed upon.
Should the caller need to speak to you directly, your receptionist can either connect them to you directly or take a message. They will then pass this message along to you.
Virtual receptionists are hired at a flat monthly rate. This makes it easy to factor them into your budgetary planning.
One final thing to note, virtual receptionists also help you plan callbacks.
Your virtual receptionist plan includes software that allows you to set your availability for virtual meetings and calls.
Your receptionist can then schedule callers in the open slots, making it easy and convenient for you to respond to missed calls.
What Are the Differences Between the Two?
These two forms of virtual help differ in a number of ways that are important to your small business.
Virtual receptionists are typically far more specialized than virtual assistants. In fact, the term “virtual assistant” is more of a bucket than a distinct title.
Virtual assistants may be skilled in anything from tech to accounting. If you don’t know precisely what you want out of your virtual help, a virtual assistant hire can easily result in a mismatch or wasted money.
By contrast, virtual receptionists are specifically trained for receptionist work. When you hire a virtual receptionist, you know exactly what you’re getting: professional customer service and freedom from answering your phones.
Virtual assistants also require significantly more direction. Managing virtual employees requires skill and direction.
While this can be great, it’s often difficult for small business owners to do, as they already have so many other tasks to attend to.
Virtual receptionists require very little direction. Once you’ve established how you’d like them to direct callers, they will manage your phones with minimal involvement on your end.
Finally we come to the cost.
Virtual receptionists are hired for a flat monthly rate. This rate tends to be well below the standard hourly you’d pay a traditional employee, making them an affordable choice for small businesses.
Virtual assistants are typically paid hourly, with standard rates ranging from $15 to $30 an hour. This can quickly add up, especially for small startups and solopreneur ventures.
Should You Get A Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Receptionist?
If you’re considering getting virtual help at work, you’ll need to take your specific needs into account.
If you’re looking for a specific technical skill, have time to research, and don’t mind paying hourly, virtual assistants may be a good fit.
That said, for most small businesses and startups, this isn’t the case.
More often, these small businesses just need someone to help them manage the tedious daily tasks so they can handle the big projects.
In these cases, virtual receptionists are almost always a better choice. They free you up from intrusive phone calls and help you schedule while leaving you in control of business operations.
Virtual receptionists are also far more affordable in most cases, making them the better option for businesses that want to keep overhead low.
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Business owners who don’t want to spend time instructing and monitoring other workers would also be better served by a virtual receptionist.
Virtual receptionists require far less management than virtual assistants. This means you can incorporate them with ease.
Virtual help has become a critical component of many small businesses. These remote workers allow business owners to delegate tasks without having to rent a traditional office.
But not all virtual help is equally suited to your small business. Virtual assistants are broad in their skills and in their pricing.
While they can be helpful, they are often more than a small business owner needs in the initial stages of growth. This means hiring a virtual assistant costs more than is necessary.
Virtual receptionists are an affordable and easy-to-incorporate business solution. They handle your business phones, freeing you to focus on operations while staying well within budget.
If you’re looking to free yourself from your phones while still maintaining the flexibility of your remote business, Alliance Virtual Offices is here to help.
Our virtual receptionists provide the professionalism of a traditional receptionist with the convenience and affordability you need to grow your small business.