The difference between a virtual receptionist and a live receptionist can be quickly highlighted with just two of the many aspects:
- Who pays them—considering the difference between a full-time employee hired directly by your company or through a third-party service provider.
- Where they operate—whether in the office or remotely from an outside location.
A live receptionist is someone who works under the company umbrella—typically in their office—whereas virtual receptionists are fully-remote professionals employed by a third party. Live receptionists typically have direct knowledge of the workplace, are able to handle manual activities like handling mail or paperwork, and may establish a more personal connection with employees and visitors. However, both a live receptionist and a virtual receptionist can answer calls, schedule appointments, and perform a wide variety of customer service tasks.
You may be wondering, “If both provide the same services, then why hire a virtual receptionist?” The answer to that can be summed up with a few words:
While a virtual receptionist and live receptionist offer similar services, there are several added benefits to working with a virtual receptionist company—all of which will improve the quality and consistency of your customer service. For example, virtual receptionists offer 24/7 coverage instead of the typical 9 to 5. Redundancy means you have a team of receptionists available rather than relying on one in-office person who can call out, get sick, go on vacation, or quit. Virtual receptionists also operate in their own systems, and can be paid either hourly, per call, per minute, flat rate, or pay as you go.
In many cases, a virtual receptionist could be a more cost-effective and comprehensive choice for businesses that don’t require a physical presence in their office. For example, when businesses are looking for someone to schedule appointments and help with customer inquiries. A live receptionist, on the other hand, provides in-person service, which could be crucial for more hands-on businesses.
Keep reading to learn more about virtual receptionist companies, the skills they bring, and why a virtual receptionist may be the best choice for your business.
What Is a Virtual Receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a remote communications expert that uses their customer services skills to boost your client relationships. Most people think of customer service help lines when they hear “virtual receptionist,” but these specialists can also:
- Schedule and confirm appointments
- Answer industry-specific questions for customers
- Provide basic education on business services and procedures
- Accept and process customer payments over the phone
- Work with other communications software, such as email
- Manage CRM platforms and other customer-centric software
- Perform call screening, routing, and even intake interviews
This role is crucial for businesses, as it ensures efficient communication, helps in managing workload, and enhances customer experience by offering prompt and professional solutions. Plus, without hiring an in-house receptionist, businesses can continue to optimize operational efficiency and communication with customers—and don’t have to spend big money to achieve similar results.
When a business hires a virtual receptionist for small business, medium business, or enterprise-level business, they gain a team of experts who are dedicated to providing quality customer service—all under the brand who hires them. In other words, when virtual receptionists answer a business’s phones, they answer as if they’re directly in that business’s office. Virtual receptionists act as an extension of the companies they work for, with all the expertise needed to enhance that brand’s customer experience.
How Does a Virtual Receptionist Work for a Business?
When a business hires a virtual receptionist company, they are hiring a team of virtual receptionists who are dedicated to that business’s communications. This team then handles the bulk of communications for that business, acting as an extension of the business itself. And because phone systems can now be completely internet-based, virtual receptionists can work for any client, no matter where they’re located.
In general, the three most important reasons why a virtual receptionist is good for business include:
- Cost Efficiency: By eliminating the need for additional office space, equipment, and the expenses associated with a full-time employee, virtual receptionists provide a more economical alternative for handling administrative tasks.
- Flexibility and Scalability: Virtual receptionists offer the ability to easily scale support according to the changing needs of the business, which is particularly valuable for handling fluctuating call volumes or seasonal variations in demand.
- Professional Customer Service: They ensure that customer inquiries and interactions are managed promptly and professionally, enhancing customer satisfaction and contributing positively to the business’s reputation and customer relations.
It’s worth noting that the best virtual receptionist companies do more than provide a cookie-cutter service. For example, at Berkshire Receptionists we train our receptionists for several completely different industries, such as law, healthcare, real estate, and home services. This gives our partners someone who is knowledgeable in their industry—someone who can effectively answer customer calls.
Not only that, but because virtual receptionists have a higher headcount of receptionists than other answering services, we are able to answer all calls with a live voice representative. That means no voicemail, no automated menus, no waiting on hold, and no missed calls.
Can a Receptionist Work Remotely?
Yes! While you might have doubts that a virtual receptionist will be as effective as an in-person employee, a remote receptionist can absolutely complete all of the same tasks—and for a fraction of the price. Because live receptionist services involve hiring a full-time employee with a salary and benefits, your savings with a virtual receptionist will help you allocate funds where you need them the most. Plus, when your customers call with inquiries, a virtual receptionist service will not only provide you with unparalleled customer service, but they can easily integrate with all of your software for a seamless experience for both your business and your customers.
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Receptionist?
Whether it’s handling high call volumes or providing after-hours support, the role of a virtual receptionist is fairly versatile, transforming the way businesses interact with their clients and manage their administrative tasks. Here are just a few pros of working with a virtual receptionist company like Berkshire Receptionists:
- Improve customer service with consistent, reliable call answering—including a 24/7 option.
- Offload important communications tasks to experts, reducing the strain on in-house staff.
- Solve frustratingly high turnover rates that often occur with receptionist roles.
- Save money with less dedicated full-time staff and less time spent training new receptionists.
In short, a virtual receptionist company like Berkshire saves money, decreases staff workload, and provides a premium customer service experience. What business would say no to any one of those three things, much less all of them?
What Is the Highest Salary For a Receptionist?
According to Salary.com and Glassdoor, the highest average salary for a full-time receptionist in the United States is $48,000 – $49,000 a year. It’s important to note that this salary doesn’t include other expenses, such as benefits, PTO, and training—especially for new employees. On the other hand, virtual receptionist pricing is rather straightforward—and much more affordable than an in-house employee. In fact, at Berkshire Receptionists, we charge by minutes used and you get a whole host of services, including bilingual receptionists and software integrations with your CRM and scheduling programs.
What does that pricing look like for your business? Our services start at $40/month for our Starter Plan, $180/month for our Small Business Plan, $350/month for our most popular Pro Plan, and $850/month for our Enterprise Plan. With our virtual receptionist service, you’ll save thousands of dollars per month—and those savings add up!
Do I Need a Virtual Receptionist?
If you’re unsure whether your business needs a virtual receptionist, ask yourself these questions:
- Is quality customer service important to your brand?
- Do your customer inquiries require subject matter experts?
- Are you struggling to maintain consistency in your receptionist roles?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you should consider hiring a virtual receptionist company—but only if they’re a premium service provider like Berkshire Receptionists. Our team holds experience and expertise in a wide range of specialty industries, from law to real estate and more. We’re proud to say our premium services make us the best virtual receptionist—for a small business, large enterprise, and everything in between.
Our receptionists are versed in a variety of customer service tools, including email software, CRM platforms, and payment processing, so you don’t miss a beat when fielding your customer calls. On top of all that, you can get started for as low as $40 a month!
When you’re ready to see how much better your business runs with a premium virtual receptionist service on your side, schedule a meeting with us. We look forward to hearing from you!