Once upon a time, receptionists sat at front-office desks where they answered phones, scheduled appointments, and took care of other necessary business tasks. They also often performed office support jobs like opening up the office and making coffee for the boss and staff each morning. But times have changed, and the traditional role of receptionists has broadened to encompass virtual assistants who work remotely rather than in your office. These virtual assistants may be located overseas, may freelance locally, or may be employed with a live answering service or call center.
Hiring a virtual assistant as your receptionist has many benefits over hiring an in-house receptionist—namely lower cost—if you know what to look for. Virtual assistants should be skilled in the same tasks that you’d expect your in-house receptionist to handle, such as:
- Answering phones—whether it’s full-time, after hours, or on an as-needed basis.
- Scheduling appointments and handling FAQs
- Taking and entering orders
- Taking reservations for seminars or events
- Data entry—updating customer records, creating reports, and CRM management
The trick in hiring a truly qualified virtual assistant is knowing where he or she will be working, under what circumstances, and what kind of training, support, and equipment they have. While these seem like common sense criteria, there are too many horror stories from business owners who hired the wrong virtual assistant. One hired a virtual receptionist who worked from home and customers complained about hearing a tv blaring and dogs barking in the background when they called. Another hired a virtual receptionist who was also working for other businesses and couldn’t keep their customers straight.
Your virtual receptionist should represent your business as if it’s his or her own, which essentially it is. You want to be sure that he or she is conveying the most professional image to your customers, so you’ll need to know what technology they use to answer your calls, how they securely record and backup data, and what tools they have to manage your schedule.
You’ll also need to determine if you need your virtual assistant to be certified as HIPAA-compliant, or he or she needs to be bilingual. You’ll also want to verify that the virtual assistant has securely encrypted technology to protect your customer’s data. You should also know what their backup plans are if they aren’t able to answer the phone.
Your safest bet is to work with the virtual assistants at live answering services or call centers. You’ll have a team of remote receptionists on your side who’ve been professionally trained, and who have the technology and support to handle all your calls 24/7. It’s like having your own round-the-clock team, at a fraction of the cost of hiring one full-time in-office receptionist. You’ll most likely be so pleased with the support that you don’t even mind making your own coffee.
The virtual receptionists at Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. have earned an 82% referral rate, thanks to our customized communication solutions, secure messaging, and appointment scheduling services that save our clients time and money while increasing their customer loyalty.
Voice Link offers month-to-month service agreements to meet your unique needs, with no hidden fees. Our excellent reputation, expert staff, and state-of-the-art technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.