Virtual Front Desk Receptionist
Learn what role a virtual front desk receptionist can play in your business. Explore the tasks they perform, benefits they bring, and how much they cost.
Enhance Your Business with a Front Desk Virtual Receptionist
The Perfect Blend of Warmth, Expertise, and Professionalism
Leaving a last impression on your clients while making critical decisions with ease.
Picture this: a new high priority client you’ve been trying to land for weeks finally calls your company to learn more. But instead of reaching you directly, they get a generic voicemail greeting. And by the time you’re able to call them back, they have lost enthusiasm for what you have to offer. Or worse yet, they don’t leave a message at all or their message gets lost in the shuffle and you never know they called. You’ve missed a great business opportunity because you didn’t prioritize that first-touch customer interaction highly enough.
This doesn’t have to be true for your company, though. A virtual receptionist can offer a great front desk experience for your clients without the need to hire another full staff member. Of course, the benefits of having a virtual receptionist go beyond simply providing efficient and courteous phone handling. Remote receptionists can greatly increase the overall productivity of your business by scheduling appointments, answering common inquiries, and giving basic information about your services.
In this article we’ll look at exactly what a virtual front desk receptionist is, how they work, and what skills a virtual receptionist needs to best help you and your customers.
What Is the Role of a Reception Desk?
The role of the reception desk or front desk in your business is to be the friendly face of your company to your customers. Your front desk will often be the first place a new client personally interacts with your business, and making a good first impression can be the difference between getting a new customer and having them go somewhere else. Of course, many of those working front desk reception are tasked with greeting customers, supplying information and directions, and providing overall administrative support—among other things—but it can be hard to juggle everything and still give excellent customer service.
However, in this digital age, customers probably won’t be coming into your physical location and standing at a literal desk to ask questions or book an appointment. Most of them will call or even live chat with a virtual version of this traditional front desk idea. A virtual live receptionist for small business will be the professional who answers the phone. A virtual receptionist provider, like Berkshire Receptionists, makes filling this role quick and easy, so you can focus on other parts of your business.
What Is the Difference Between a Receptionist and a Front Desk Employee?
The two terms are closely related, and are often used interchangeably. In general, a receptionist has a smaller scope of responsibilities, mainly answering incoming calls and routing them to the correct staff member to help. A front desk worker often has a wider scope, potentially answering calls, taking payments, making reservations, or checking on account status. These terms are more common in industries that require multiple staff to deal with the volume of incoming calls and questions, like hospitality.
In general, the difference between the two is rather significant. One of the most notable is that a front desk worker interacts face-to-face with customers or visitors, assisting them with their inquiries and enabling the use of various onsite services. In comparison, a virtual reception service handles most of their communication with customers through different remote channels including phone calls, emails, and live chats.
To put it simply, a front desk professional often acts as an administrative representative, maintaining the seamless operation of the front desk and offering full on-site support and services, while a virtual receptionist often performs a supportive role in managing communication and administrative responsibilities.
For many virtual receptionist companies, including Berkshire Receptionists, a virtual receptionist is actually acting in the role of a front desk employee. Because they are able to help callers do things like make appointments and pay their outstanding balances, virtual receptionists are even more valuable to your company’s success. Their value is partially due to their 24/7 availability—which means customers get help at any time they need, rather than only during business hours. Such a large availability helps businesses boost their reputation among their customers. This is because they get to speak to a live person rather than navigating through frustrating automated menus. Plus remote front desk employees are more cost-effective—saving businesses thousands of dollars per month over an in-house receptionist.
How Does a Virtual Reception Work?
In many ways, a virtual front desk system works much like an in-house receptionist would. They answer incoming calls, provide polite and professional help to clients and prospects, and pass along any needed information to your company. The system generally works like this:
- A customer calls your business and reaches a live agent who has training in both your industry and company.
- The virtual receptionist answers the customer’s questions professionally and helps them do things like:
- Schedule a meeting or appointment
- Look up their account balance or payment history
- Accept payments
- Transfer calls to the correct member of your staff
- Take a detailed message and escalate it appropriately
Using a skilled virtual receptionist for your small business saves you time, and it cuts back on the constant interruptions that come with answering the phone. As the first point of contact for customers, virtual receptionists lay the groundwork for long-term loyalty by providing customers with personalized guidance and support—helping them navigate any concerns they might have. Because of this, your customers don’t miss out on the human connection and quick response to their needs, but you and your in-house staff don’t have to be at the mercy of your phones.
How Should a Receptionist Answer the Call from a Customer?
As with any service taking phone calls, a virtual receptionist should answer the phone quickly, while being kind and courteous. Some might even use a personalized receptionist greeting script for your business to start off the call.
Because the receptionists don’t know the nature of the call before speaking with your customer, there are several factors that can impact the quality of service your customers receive. For example, if someone is calling with an immediate problem—like a leaky roof or medical concern—a virtual receptionist should help that customer or client with the urgency it requires. That means being empathetic to all callers to not only understand their problem, but also to provide a helpful solution, like scheduling an emergency appointment.
In addition to responding politely and offering relevant details or support when needed, virtual receptionists should actively listen to the customer’s needs. By using a compassionate approach to customer service, they should make an effort to properly address any questions or concerns, making the customer feel valued and understood. Not only does that genuinely help your customers, but it also helps boost your company’s reputation!
What Industries Use Virtual Front Desk Staff?
Any small- to medium-sized business that values a human connection with their customers but lacks the in-house staff to run a front desk can benefit from this service. However, there are three specific industries that use virtual receptionist jobs most frequently: law offices, medical facilities, and real estate agencies. Let’s explore each one in more detail.
In a law office, lawyers, paralegals, and legal assistants often work under a system of billable hours. If they are frequently interrupted or spend large parts of their day speaking with clients, they cannot charge these as billable hours. A virtual receptionist is able to field incoming calls and help customers understand the state of their case, take payments, or pass along messages about potential new cases. This means the staff logging billable hours are able to focus on these elements of their work and the cost of the receptionist is more than covered by this increase in productivity.
Patients receiving medical care understandably often have questions, need to schedule or reschedule appointments, or pay a bill. Anyone who is sick or concerned about their health may find an automated answering machine a less than reassuring option when they call to speak to their healthcare provider. A virtual receptionist for a medical facility can be a friendly voice to greet patients and make sure they get connected with the right staff to meet their needs.
Real Estate Receptionist
Buying or selling a house can be an incredibly stressful time. If you are a real estate agent, you can’t always answer the phone, but your clients often expect immediate responses to their pressing questions. A virtual receptionist can make it possible to do all the parts of your job that require your undivided attention. When a client calls they can speak with a knowledgeable professional who can answer their questions promptly without interrupting your work.
Finance can be a volatile business, with the prices of stocks constantly fluctuating or the rising APR of the housing market, and clients can need help navigating the ins-and-outs of their finances. With a virtual receptionist, they’ll be able to reach your office without you or your team having to take time away from other clients. Plus a virtual receptionist can help in completing several administrative tasks, like scheduling appointments or redirecting calls.
Everyone needs to be covered by insurance, whether its for their car, home, or other important asset. To ensure timely handling of policy inquiries, claims processing, and premium payments, an insurance provider could benefit from using a virtual receptionist to streamline customer support services. With the help of virtual receptionist companies, you can offer clients of your agency individualized support by walking them through policy selections and outlining coverage details. Plus, by handling call volume, cutting down on wait times, and making sure that urgent client matters are handled right away, a virtual receptionist can improve client retention and satisfaction.
When it comes to owning a home, there’s bound to be something that goes wrong eventually that needs fixed. Home services, such as contractors, can benefit from the assistance of a virtual receptionist by having their clients’ questions answered right away, appointments scheduled appropriately, and service requests dealt with in a timely manner. In addition, the virtual receptionist can manage scheduling and customer data, freeing up the home service provider to concentrate on providing top-notch services without having to worry about losing out on potential customers.
What Are the Qualities of a Front Desk Officer or Receptionist?
A front desk officer is another role very similar to the front desk or a receptionist. A virtual receptionist could do many of the same tasks as a front desk job, meaning they are sometimes referred to as front desk receptionist or front desk officer. In some instances, especially on-premises enterprise companies or hotels, a front desk officer would be a person who greets guests as they come in, issues them badges or keycards, provides refreshments, and facilitates their visit. This exact role doesn’t align with the roles performed by a virtual receptionist, but many of the responsibilities are similar.
The best virtual receptionist for a small business is one who is:
- Friendly and approachable
- Knowledgeable about your industry in general and your business in particular
- Able to navigate technology quickly and easily
- Comfortable making decisions and recommendations quickly to get callers the information they need in a timely manner
- Capable of managing various tasks at the same time—like handling phone calls, scheduling appointments, and organizing customer inquiries or their files.
Combining industry-specific expertise with a courteous and professional service, a skilled receptionist can navigate diverse tasks easily—and provide valuable help for customers. They can give prompt and accurate information because of their quick decision-making and problem-solving skills, which guarantee that customers receive the best possible service and leave a favorable and long-lasting image of the company.
What Does 24HR Front Desk Mean?
A 24 hour front desk means there is always someone for your customers to connect with when they need it. If you work with clients around the world across a wide range of time zones, this truly might mean a virtual receptionist that is available 24 hours a day during the work week. Or, if you offer a virtual front desk for your medical practice, your clients may have urgent needs at any time of any day and 24/7 availability really would serve them best.
For many types of businesses, however, a front desk receptionist only needs to be available during typical business hours. So your virtual receptionist can meet customer needs and answer calls during their workweek by operating 12 hours a day, five days a week, for example. Of course, your virtual front desk receptionists’ schedules are based on your needs as a business and you can adjust or scale as needed—without the need to hire another receptionist or service provider.
With a virtual receptionist service like Berkshire Receptionist, you can customize the availability of your virtual front desk to the times that make sense for your business.
What Is Front Desk Software?
The virtual receptionist software needed to serve your business well will depend on your exact needs and the company providing the service. In order to provide the best front desk from anywhere with customer support that’s second to none, you’ll likely need a few different types of software. At Berkshire Receptionists, we offer integrations and software including:
- Call transferring
- Spam blocking
- Appointment scheduling that integrates with your calendar system, like Google Calendar or Microsoft Booking
- Omnichannel monitoring with integrations for apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams
- Payment processing systems, like Stripe and Authorize.net
- CRM platform integrations for systems like Salesforce and Zendesk
Why are integrations important for businesses using a live virtual receptionist? These integrations are important, because they make it easy for different systems to communicate with each other. This streamlined integration process makes it possible to see all interactions with customers and improves workflow management, which makes the business more efficient and productive overall.
How Much Does a Virtual Front Desk Cost?
A virtual receptionist or front desk staff member will vary in price depending on factors such as:
- Who is providing your service
- The expertise and training of the receptionist
- The type of work you expect them to do
- The amount of time they will spend answering calls
There are some very inexpensive or even free options offered for virtual receptionists, but these often prove the adage “you get what you pay for.” If you want service you can count on provided by an experienced receptionist that knows your business, you want a professional.
Fortunately, the overall cost of a receptionist is less expensive than you might expect, especially when you see how much time and interruption this service saves for your business. Each service provider will vary on exact rates, but let’s look at the pricing packages available from Berkshire Receptionists to give you a general idea.
As of May 2023, our plans all start with a base monthly rate that includes a set number of minutes of speaking with clients on your behalf. You are then able to add additional minutes as needed throughout the month for a set per minute rate. These plans include:
- Starter – $40 per month, includes 0 minutes, each additional minute $1.89
- Small Business – $180 per month, includes 100 minutes, each additional minute $1.79
- Pro – $350 per month, includes 200 minutes, each additional minute $1.74
- Enterprise – $850, includes 500 minutes, each additional minute $1.69
All of these plans include a full suite of features:
- 24/7 Live Receptionists
- Call Transfers
- Email Relays
- SMS Relays
- Secure Notifications
- Bilingual Receptionists
- Custom Hold Music
- Personalized Greetings
- Local Number
- Disaster Recovery
- Online Client Portal
- Usage Report
- Dedicated Account Manager
Up your productivity and give your customers the human touch they expect—get started today!