Nearly 90% of customers report that the experience a business provides is just as important as the products or services they offer, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report. In fact, the same report illustrates that nearly half of consumers report switching brands for customer service reasons. Suffice to say, customer experience matters. And for a lot of businesses, receptionists play a key element to providing a great experience.
Receptionists are essential to the success of these experiences, because they serve as a company’s first point of contact, welcoming customers and handling tasks such as returning calls and emails. They represent the business and display the values and professionalism that customers expect when interacting with the brand for the first time. This can come in the form of answering questions over the phone, setting appointments, or rerouting calls to the right person. Of course many receptionists play a role in face-to-face customer interactions, but ultimately their most important duties are their administrative tasks to keep the business running smoothly..
When seeking these services, businesses can choose between an in-house receptionist and a virtual receptionist. More and more, companies are turning to remote receptionists. Not only do they offer many of the same services as an in-house receptionist, but they can provide significant advantages, like 24/7 support and cost savings. At a time where over half of small businesses are cutting costs, this is a key factor to consider. Keep reading to find out more about virtual receptionist cost breakdowns and how a service like Berkshire Receptionists can serve your business and customers.
What Is a Virtual Receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a term used to describe third-party vendors that answer calls, handle customer inquiries, and schedule customer appointments for a business. In general, a live virtual receptionist operates as an off-site front desk representative, offering real-time administrative and customer support over the phone or online. Essentially, a virtual receptionist is quite similar to that of a traditional in-house one—with the primary differences being where they operate and who they’re employed by.
The services that a virtual business receptionist company offers does vary, but you can generally expect them to perform the following tasks:
- Answer phone calls, live chats, SMS messages, and other inquiries
- Book appointments for your customers
- Deliver top-tier customer service and support
- Offer expertise in your industry
- Record messages for you and your team
- Route calls to the appropriate staff members as necessary
Hiring a virtual receptionist is ideal for businesses of any size—especially small- or medium-sized businesses—who want to save money by avoiding the cost of a full-time receptionist. With virtual receptionist services, businesses can provide individualized assistance to customers remotely, without the need for being in person.
How Much Does a Virtual Receptionist Cost?
Virtual receptionist pricing varies quite a bit, with starter plans often ranging from $40-50 per month and larger plans ranging from $200-900+ per month. Why is the spread so big? It all comes down to variables such as: the service provider, the services offered, the level of support, and the call volume and duration.
The Service Provider
Just like with any industry, pricing varies by service provider. Often, this has to do with how skilled the receptionists are. The best virtual receptionist services offer industry-specific training for their staff. This is especially important when you’re operating in a highly-regulated field like law, healthcare, or real estate. At Berkshire Receptionists, our experienced team has worked with businesses just like yours, so you can rest assured that your customers will receive high-quality, knowledgeable service.
The Services Offered
The services being provided is one of the largest variables when it comes to pricing. While a basic remote receptionist service may answer calls, take messages, and schedule appointments, comprehensive services like Berkshire Receptionists offer more comprehensive solutions. All of our standard plans come with:
- 24/7 live receptionists
- Bilingual receptionists
- Call transfer
- Custom hold music
- Dedicated account manager
- Disaster recovery
- Email and SMS relays
- Local phone number
- Online client portal
- Personalized greetings
- Secure notifications
- Usage report
And, with dozens of integrations with common business applications, you can truly customize your experience with Berkshire Receptionists.
The Level of Support
While it’s common for a live receptionist for a small business (or a business of any size) to offer services for standard business hours, the best companies offer 24/7 availability. The fact is, customer needs and inquiries don’t operate exclusively between 9am and 5pm, and your receptionist services shouldn’t, either. While this kind of continuous service typically has a slightly higher price tag, being able to capture every call that comes in—no matter what time—is a valuable investment.
The Call Volume and Duration
Typically, virtual business receptionist providers charge either per call or per minute. With per call pricing models, you’ll pay for each call received, regardless of how long it is (or even if it’s a wrong number). Per minute pricing is often more attractive to businesses because you only pay for the amount of time a receptionist is engaged with a customer. At Berkshire Receptionists, our transparent pricing models offer flat monthly subscription fees as well as additional minute packages. These packages have a set price for extra minutes beyond those included in your base subscription.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Virtual Receptionist?
The two main disadvantages of hiring a virtual receptionist are lack of industry knowledge and the possibility of high expenses. Let’s take a further look at these drawbacks:
Unfortunately, it’s possible that some virtual receptionist providers don’t train their operators with the industry-specific expertise needed for certain businesses. For instance, in healthcare, understanding of medical terminology, billing codes, insurance processes, and regulatory compliance like HIPAA is critical. Similarly, legal or technical fields have their own jargon and confidentiality requirements. With this lack of training and experience, a virtual receptionist service may not handle calls as well, which could result in misunderstandings and oversights in administration—like missing valuable and important information.
Another drawback of some expert virtual receptionist services is their pricing model, which frequently charges fees based on minutes or calls. Although employing a virtual assistant might save a company money, more specialized virtual services may come with premium costs that are higher than expected, particularly if the service is used more than anticipated. For example, with some virtual receptionist services, high call volumes could lead to costs that exceed a fixed budget. And if the service is specialized—like having industry-specific training—the per-minute or per-call rate may be higher to reflect that expertise.
Thankfully, services like Berkshire Receptionists avoid these disadvantages by having a fixed pricing model based on minutes—so you can always take care of your customers based only on the time you use. Beyond that, however, our receptionists are trained in specific industries so they can help with different customer calls within all regulations. Plus, your business will be able to help customers when they need your services the most.
Support Your Customers When They Need You With Berkshire Receptionists
For 80+ years, the team at Berkshire Receptionists has helped hundreds of small businesses offer professional, knowledgeable, 24/7 support to their customers. With our transparent pricing model, no long-term contracts, and a 21-day money-back guarantee, we offer easy setup, endless benefits, and services we know your customers will love.