Related: View Virtual Receptionist Plans & Pricing
Exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business, regardless of industry.
However if you’re a busy business owner or entrepreneur, time constraints and a full schedule means customer service can slip, or even fall by the wayside.
Not all businesses – especially those operating on a lean budget – can afford to employ staff dedicated to the customer cause. It’s more likely that you’re managing this area of the business yourself; juggling it together with all the other aspects of your business.
How much is a live receptionist?
LIVE RECEPTIONIST 50
LIVE RECEPTIONIST 100
LIVE RECEPTIONIST 200
The cost of your Live Receptionist will depend on a number of factors, including how many minutes of support you decide to pay for each month.
If it’s your first foray into the world of Live Receptionists and virtual offices, you might decide to start with the minimum number of answering minutes available which is 50.
As the inquiries start to flood in and your customer base grows, you may scale up to 200 minutes which comes in at around. You might then increase this to 500 minutes after a year or so.
The fact is, the level of customer service you provide has a huge impact on how people interact with your brand and ultimately affects your bottom line.
According to a Microsoft report, 96% of people say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Similarly, research by Accenture reveals that 33% of people who abandoned a business relationship last year did so because personalization was lacking.
If these statistics make you panic because you find you simply don’t have time to answer every single call and inquiry day in, day out, you can rest assured: help is at hand.
A Live Receptionist might be just the thing you need. Expert organizers and multitaskers, they are highly skilled in answering calls, scheduling appointments and lead capturing.
Oh, and all at a fraction of the cost of an in-house employee.
“Since using a Live Receptionist I’ve been able to focus more intently on other areas of my business, safe in the knowledge that no call will go unanswered!”
We want to help you differentiate all the services that are available, and many companies have overlapping names for different services. But we want to clear the air so you can make appropriate decisions for your company.
First we will start by addressing the differences between call answering services, Live Receptionist, and service and support call center services.
Live Receptionist vs Call Answering Service
There are a few call answering-type services on the market today, so how do you know which is best for you and how can you differentiate between them?
Once you’ve got a better understanding of how each functions and what each offers in terms of business support, you’ll have a better idea.
What is a Live Receptionist?
A Live Receptionist (sometimes referred to as a Remote Receptionist, and live receptionist) is a remote worker who carries out many of the duties an ‘in-house’ receptionist would.
They provide a more comprehensive and personal service than a simple phone answering service, and in some cases can provide more specialist industry-specific support.
Your Live Receptionist will make an effort to get to know and understand your business; they will learn how best to communicate with your customer, the tone of voice they should adopt when answering calls on your business’ behalf and the language associated with your industry or specialism.
What does a live receptionist do?
Call Answering in your brand’s Image
Live Receptionists handle more complex call flows than a Call Answering Service. It’s not just about answering the phone either. Operators answer calls in the name of your business, making the interaction more personal and ‘on brand’. Forwarding calls on to you and taking messages also fall within their remit.
The amount of support your Live Receptionist will dedicate to your business really depends on how many answering minutes you think you’ll need throughout the month. You might decide to start with 50 Live Answering minutes and add more as your business grows.
The fact that many businesses only operate on weekdays between 8am and 5pm means generally, customers are only able to book appointments over the phone 27% of the time. And even less if you’re unable to get to the phone at any point during those hours.
Companies across a range of sectors, including medical, law and finance, find the appointment scheduling service really useful. The ability to schedule appointments 24/7 significantly reduces the risk of your client going to a competitor.
Although virtual receptionist hours of availability varies from company to company, Alliance Virtual offers friendly and professional Live Receptionists during prime business hours of 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Standard time; this translates to 5 am – 5 pm PST and 7 am – 7 pm CST.
The process itself is transparent and streamlined.
You’ll have access to a scheduling app that enables you to keep track of your calendar and receive handy notifications like confirmations and reminders throughout the day.
In a content-fueled world such as ours, people expect to be able to place an order any time of the day or night through a number of channels. Although many people prefer to place an order online nowadays, there is still a demand for telephone transactions.
According to Hubspot, 41.2% of salespeople said their phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal and that almost six in 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the first call. However, Forbes reveals that poor customer service, including not answering calls, is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year.
A Live Receptionist will ensure no opportunity is missed by enabling your customers to place orders over the phone throughout the day – or night (hours vary by service provider), if you choose.
Friendly customer service
Above all, a Live Receptionist’s job is to provide excellent customer service. Although some training is necessary, they do not require extensive training in product knowledge or technical know how.
Their main purpose is to act as a friendly and professional point of initial contact for your business.
If you are a larger business looking for people to support customers on a more comprehensive level, a service and support call center might be a more appropriate option.
Call Answering Services
Call answering, call forwarding and taking messages
In a nutshell, a call answering service is designed to handle high volumes of calls on your business’ behalf. Thus, it is slightly less ‘personal’ than the Live Receptionist option.
Operators assigned to your business will gather key bits of information from the caller including details like name, phone number and what their query is about.
Any messages will be relayed to you shortly afterwards via email, app, answerphone message or any other method of your choosing.
Service and Support Call Center
Call centers are scripted environments in which operators are trained to answer a combination of questions. Unlike a small business answering service or Live Receptionist, a call center is typically suited to larger enterprises who require a service that can handle all or most of their incoming sales or support calls.
As such, operators in a support call center require further training and a 360° understanding of a company’s products and services. In this way they are more akin to full-time employees.
The calls they take are usually more complex and longer in duration (typically lasting at least five minutes). In a call center, the operator will usually stay on the line until the query is resolved.
How do Live Receptionist Services Work?
Onboarding a Live Receptionist should be fairly fast and easy.
Although they are typically trained through their agency or employer, the more information and support you give them in the early days the better. This way, they’ll quickly develop a good understanding of what you do and be able to provide a better service.
With this in mind, remember to keep them in the loop when it comes to any changes within the company. Staff absences and departures, tweaks to protocol – all of these things are important for your remote receptionist to know.
Once you’ve established a working relationship with them, think about which internal systems you want to grant them access to.
Remember: the whole point of a Live Receptionist is to take some of the weight off your own workload. These people are professionals who are highly skilled in customer service and you can trust them to get on with the job. As with any full-time employee, positive feedback goes a long way, so give praise where it’s due. And don’t be afraid to delegate!
Aim to make your Live Receptionist feel like part of your team by making time for face-to-face catch ups via Skype and updating them regularly over email or on channels like Slack.