What is a virtual receptionist or call answering service?
A virtual receptionist is a person who mans business phone lines from a remote location or call center facility. They make sure maximum calls are answered. It's important to note that having calls answered is much better for customer service as compared to voicemail. A survey found that when their calls are unanswered.
Based on the customer input, virtual receptionists then route these calls to the correct individual/department or if it's a basic request with preset responses, answer it on the spot.
What kind of service do virtual receptionists provide?
Virtual receptionists perform the same services as in-house receptionists. Some of the services they provide include:
- Answering incoming phone calls
- Taking messages
- Routing calls
- Scheduling appointments
- Following up on leads
- Conduct callbacks
- Update internal records
- Managing mailboxes
- Solving customer queries
- Process orders
How much does it cost to hire a virtual receptionist service?
The cost of hiring a virtual receptionist depends on the pricing model and the services you require. The expected call volume also influences the pricing. And then there are add-on costs like agent work time that agencies may add to your invoice. Many companies also practice incremental billing where they round up call minutes. Adding those few seconds to every call can inflate your bill quite a bit.
The most common pricing models followed are:
This refers to billing calls at a pre-negotiated per-minute rate based on the average monthly call volume
- Monthly subscription billing
These are prepaid packages with curated services and a monthly minimum of call minutes required to keep the account alive.
Tiered pricing structures allow you to select the prepaid services you need and bill you accordingly.
How does a virtual receptionist work?
Virtual receptionists answer calls to your business line from a remote location. Calls are answered according to a script. FAQs and simple questions that you have included answers for in the script can be provided to the callers.
Calls made within business hours may be forwarded to the concerned departments when required. In other cases, messages can be noted, consolidated and later delivered to you.
How much does a virtual receptionist earn for a living?
Virtual receptionists may earn a fixed salary per month based on their experience or earn a variable salary based on an hourly rate. The stands between $7 and $63 per hour.
9 virtual receptionist services to consider for your business
There are several virtual receptionist service providers. Some of the top choices for your business are:
1 - Ruby
Ruby is a virtual receptionist and live chat service provider. Ruby virtual receptionists can field incoming calls in English and Spanish. It also gives you access to unlimited voicemail boxes with customized greetings. The main services provided include live answering, flexible call forwarding, lead capturing, appointment scheduling and outbound calling.
Ruby offers 4 plans for virtual receptionist services named Call Ruby 50, Call Ruby 100, Call Ruby 200 and Call Ruby 500. Prices start from $219 per month and go up to $1499 per month based on the total number of call minutes. Ruby also offers chat support that can be added to a bundled service pack.
Ruby services are highly rated for their ease of use and customer service. The agents are experienced and deliver a positive experience. However, some customers have felt that the service is rather expensive.
2 - My Receptionist
MyReceptionist offers professional virtual receptionists and virtual answering services. They offer 24/7 support with live call answering and transfers, local voicemail, message taking, call screening and more.
MyReceptionist has three flexible plans for small, mid and enterprise-sized businesses. The Starter Pricing plan has 70 minutes included at $110 per billing cycle, The Cruising plan has 150 minutes priced at $195 per billing cycle and the Express Pricing option offers 235 minutes at the rate of $275 per billing cycle.
Users have said that MyReceptionist is easy to set up and user-friendly. The customer service has been applauded as well. On the flip side, some integrations require add-on fees making the plans more expensive than assumed.
3 - Nexa
Nexa offers virtual receptionists to handle incoming calls and texts 24/7/365 and provide chat support. It can be easily integrated with other tools. The Nexa receptionists are not just highly trained but also bilingual and hence ideal for companies with international audiences. They provide company-specific scripting, call reports and follow-up call services.
Nexa offers a free trial with 50 voice minutes and 3 paid plans with 100, 300 and 500 minutes each. The price of these plans is flexible and based on multiple parameters including the number of points of contact, type of business and other specific requirements.
Nexa customers rank the company's services quite highly as a result of their professionalism and promptness. However, their employees have had questionable experiences.
4 - Unity Communications
Unity Communications offers a comprehensive range of administrative, and backend support solutions including a call center for e-commerce ventures and customer service virtual assistants. Their services include round-the-clock customer support and order processing as well as data entry, general bookkeeping and technology support.
Pricing is variable depending on the services opted for.
Unity Communications customers speak highly of their ability to meet business expectations. However, if you're looking for a dedicated virtual receptionist, they may not have exactly what's required.
5 - ReceptionHQ
Reception HQ is an American virtual reception and call answering service provider. They offer bilingual services in English and Spanish with 24/7 live answering, customized greetings, automated messaging and a range of other business solutions.
Reception HQ has many monthly plans with varied services. The simplest plan with call answering and messaging is priced at $15 per month. The Receptionist Plus plan for customized phone answering, messaging and call transfers is priced at $25 per month while the My Diary and My Assistant plans with additional services are priced at $49 per month.
Reception HQ is appreciated for its upbeat receptionists and responsiveness but quite a few customers have experienced hiccups and problems with service.
6 - DaVinci
DaVinci virtual receptionists deliver 24/7 live call answering services so you never miss a call or the opportunity it brings. The company offers its services globally to all industries.
DaVinci has 2 business plans priced at $129 and $239 per month and 2 premium plans priced at $249 and $319 per month for 50 and 100 live answer minutes each. The premium plans include all the business plan services as well as appointment scheduling, outbound calling, bilingual receptionists, complex call flows and other administrative assistant tasks.
Online reviews suggest that DaVinci is very responsive and efficient with call management. However, many customers have claimed that there are hidden costs that make it expensive.
7 - Abby Connect
Abby Connect is an American-based virtual receptionist service provider that promises to simplify customer service. They provide customer-centric experiences through a team dedicated to your business that answers and manages calls. Abby Connect also provides chat support.
The company has three receptionist plans priced at $299, $549 and $1199 per month. Plans vary in terms of receptionist minutes and have a 14-day free trial period each.
According to online reviews, Abby Connect offers prompt, reliable service. However, there have also been reviews of calls being put on long waits.
8 - POSH Virtual Receptionists
Posh Virtual Receptionist services are designed to cater to small and big enterprises. Their services included 24/7 call handling as well as screening and forwarding, appointment reminders, voicemail and message management in English and Spanish.
There are 5 Posh plans available ranging from $54 per month with a call charge of $1.60 per minute and no included minutes to a $684 per month plan with 500 receptionist minutes included and additional calls billed at $1.36 per minute.
Posh virtual receptionists are polite, knowledgeable and professional but their services can work out to be expensive for businesses that see a high incoming call volume.
9 - PATLive
PATLive offers 24/7 fast and friendly call answering service by trained, American customer service professionals. The virtual receptionists screen unwanted calls, answer legitimate calls, patch callers through when you've available, take messages, schedule appointments and capture leads.
PATLive has a basic plan for $59 per month. This has no package minutes and a $2.25 per minute call rate. The Starter, Standard, Pro and Pro+ plans range from $199 to $1279 per month These plans are inclusive of a certain number of call minutes and varied services.
Online reviews commend PATLive for its fair pricing and friendly service. However, consistency and data quality have been issues.
What are the benefits of using a virtual receptionist for your business?
Hiring a virtual receptionist can benefit your organization in many different ways.
Experience at lower costs
Virtual receptionists know how to field customer calls, what calls to screen and which to forward, and so on. Unlike when you hire a full-time receptionist, you do not need to spend time training them.
Rather than paying a fixed salary every month you pay only for the minutes you use. There are also no taxes, benefits, etc to add on to your costs.
Fewer overhead costs
Virtual receptionists work from remote locations. Hence, your overhead costs such as desk space, electricity, stationery, etc. are reduced.
24 x 7 support
Full-time receptionists are available to answer customer calls only during business hours. This can be extremely frustrating if you have an international audience.
On the other hand, virtual receptionists are available throughout the day. Your customers are assured good service irrespective of the time zone they're calling from.
Having a virtual receptionist minimizes the number of phone calls you need to answer. Spam calls are automatically screened. You can stay focused on your tasks and respond to messages in your own time.
Improved brand image
Having calls answered by an experienced virtual receptionist gives callers a pleasant experience. The percentage of unanswered calls is reduced and customers get quicker resolutions to their questions. In turn, this builds a customer-centric reputation for your brand.
What are the disadvantages of virtual receptionists?
There are two sides to every coin and hiring a virtual receptionist may have certain disadvantages as well.
It may be expensive for businesses with high volume of incoming calls
Virtual receptionist services are often billed at a per call or per minute rate. Hence, if your business receives a high volume of incoming calls, virtual receptionist services may be more expensive than hiring a full-time receptionist.
Callers may miss out on the personal connection
Since virtual receptionists work from remote locations, they do not identify with company culture. This may create a difference between how they deal with calls and how the company treats its customers. As a result, customers may miss out on a personal connection.
Virtual receptionists may not have updated information
Again, since virtual receptionists are not working from the same office space as the rest of your team, their access to information may be delayed. Hence, they may not be able to answer all your customer's queries.
Worse, if they are not aware of policy changes, they may give your customer incorrect information.
Virtual receptionist services alternatives
Virtual receptionists allow you to focus on your tasks without worrying about the phone ringing beside you. However, this is not the only solution available. Here are two alternatives.
Hire a freelance to manage your customer calls on Upwork
For a start-up, the costs of a virtual receptionist may work out to be beyond your budget. If you don't have too many incoming calls to be fielded, you could consider working with freelancers. You can find freelancers with specialized receptionist skills on sites like . However, you will need to train them and you should always have backups in place.
Manage customer calls internally with Quicktalk auto-attendant
Rather than outsource your call management, you can automate it with Quicktalk. The Quicktalk allows you to make and receive unlimited calls from 36 international destinations and offer better customer support with features like custom greetings, live call monitoring, call recording, routing and call statistics. You can manage calls from a computer or your mobile phone.