Phones are still the most widely used customer service channel, with more than 73% of customers calling in to a business for customer service-related issues. Simultaneously, more than 80% of callers report that they will hang up rather than getting a voicemail. I have to admit, I’ve personally been that person more than a few times!
And what happens after that? Most folks today have very little loyalty to specific companies, so like most people, I go on to the next business on the list and the company that picks up the phone will be the one that gets my business.
This is actually one of the reasons that I decided to start Donna Digital Receptionists! My wife and I were searching for a good real estate agent to help us in buying our first home and were becoming more and more frustrated that all of the agents that we called either didn’t pick up the phone in the first place, or never returned our call back requests.
As I thought about it, I couldn’t get away from the simple fact that if SOMEONE just answered the phone when I called, that person would have won my business – even if all they did was take a message and promise to call back later.
In the United States, the median home value is right around $200,000, which means that the average commission for a real estate agent on a single sale is going to be somewhere around $6,000. If an agent made just a single sale each month, representing just one side of the transaction per sale, they would gross around $72,000 per year.
What would it take for an agent to get just one sale each month? Honestly, as long as they are doing even a little good marketing for leads, just picking up the phone every time it rings would produce those kinds of numbers.
From there, I set out to figure out the right solution.
Why Choose a Virtual Receptionist?
We all know about automated voicemail systems, and some people even go a step further to set up an IVR system with a more advanced phone tree. But neither of those actually solved the problem of needing to get a real person on the line to capture the lead.
Next, I thought about VA’s, who are great. But again, aren’t quite the right fit. Virtual Assistants are best for task-based situations where they can be given the goal and let loose to run after it, rather than open-ended work like answering the phones.
Finally, I discovered Virtual Receptionists.
What is a Virtual Receptionist? A virtual receptionist is a more specialized type of virtual assistant that is specially trained for handling inbound phone calls just like they were sitting there in your office.
In fact, a good virtual receptionist will leave the caller feeling like they just talked with someone sitting next to you in your office. A great one will be specialized to your industry and be able to help your callers with a MUCH higher level of service than any other type of answering service.
They are better equipped to handle most situations that a caller might throw at them, such as capturing leads, setting appointments, answering business questions, screening telemarketers, and generally presenting your business in a great light.
In fact, as I went about building my business and learning more about the capabilities of virtual receptionists, the more amazed I was at how much of an impact a great receptionist can have on a small business.
The Benefits of a Virtual Receptionist
You might be surprised to learn there are a ton of benefits of a virtual receptionist. We’ve broken them down into four main areas: financial benefits of a virtual receptionist, time benefits, benefits for your peace of mind, and branding benefits of having a virtual receptionist.
- Convert leads at a higher rate. Calls convert to clients 12-20x higher than a webform for most businesses. What would your business look like if your current lead generation funnel converted 12x higher than it currently is?
- Capture leads around the clock. How much is a single lead worth to your business? Capture leads while you’re on vacation, sleeping, or with your family. A good virtual receptionist can also help to qualify leads with simple screening questions to ensure that only real leads are passed on while tire kickers and telemarketers are handled differently.
- Save a TON of money on implementation costs vs in-house. An on-premise setup can run into the six figures pretty quickly depending on how much call volume you need to handle.
- Cheaper than hiring a dedicated receptionist yourself because we can share the costs across multiple clients. Even a minimum wage worker in the cheapest states of the US would be: $4 per hour 𝗑 12hrs per day in coverage 𝗑 5 days per week 𝗑 4 weeks per month on average which would equal around $960/month before your employer overhead and taxes which would be another ~20%, or a total of $1152. Twice the price of our highest tier(internal link)! And that’s just for a single person. To cover their breaks and ensure that sick days are covered, you’d have to hire a second person.
- No specialized equipment needed. No phone systems, no hardware, no software.
- No sick time. Virtual Receptionists never call in sick, don’t require overtime, and work many holidays.
- No vacation time to cover. Since we have a team of specialized virtual receptionists, you’ll get full coverage nearly every day of the year without worrying about scheduling vacations.
- No wasted time. They say that the average office worker wastes as much as three hours a day on non-work tasks such as chatting with coworkers and getting coffee. With a virtual receptionist, you never waste any money on time that isn’t spent dedicated to your business.
- Flexible help you pay for only when you need. Does your business have some times of the year that you get more business than others? Virtual receptionist services can be activated and deactivated as your business needs them so that you have support when you need it, and save on costs when you don’t.
- Increase brand value. What is the value of your brand? Adding a professional receptionist can increase the perceived value of your brand simply by having a real person answering the phones and presenting a professional first impression.
- Valuing your time properly. What is your time worth? It’s probably more than the average hourly wage of a good virtual receptionist. That means that you should be outsourcing answering the phone and get yourself back to your highest value activities.
- Lower office costs. By using a good virtual receptionist, you will have one (or more) fewer people in the office, which means fewer computers, fewer phones, and smaller snack/coffee budgets.
- No unemployment costs. Things not working out? No need to worry about dealing with unemployment or messy wrongful termination concerns.
- No training costs. Virtual receptionists won’t need any additional training which means they are productive and ready to go from day one.
- Save on automated systems. You will be able to get rid of your automated system which is likely to be running you ~$25/month/person. So for a small company with 10 lines, that equals $250 a month. The same as Donna’s base plan which has better service and a much better customer experience. Plus you save the time that those team members were otherwise on the phones!
- No recruiting time or expense. The average time to hire someone in house runs around two months. But you need support today! From the moment your phone number is forwarded, you will have a flexible virtual receptionist team on the clock and ready to go.
“Cloud contact centers are 27% cheaper and experience 35% less downtime than their on-premise counterparts.” – 88 Call Center Statistics You Must Read: 2019 Data Analysis & Market Share, Finances Online
- Establishes a central point of contact. Neither your team nor your clients will waste any more time in endless games of phone tag while trying to find the right person to handle a situation. Your virtual receptionist will be the central point of contact for all your calls and will be able to route all calls to the appropriate person in an efficient manner.
- Keeps your team connected while working remotely. Having a central point of contact also means that you will have a single person that your own team can use to quickly get a hold of anyone else on your team or your vendors.
- Do more than answer calls. A good virtual receptionist team will be able to handle many other tasks besides just answering calls, such as: schedule meetings, outbound calls to verify information, book personal appointments, call screening, or event registrations
- Free up internal resources. Already have someone answering phones for you? Now they can be used for a higher-value activity such as lead generation or other tasks that grow your business.
- Streamline appointment scheduling. Never again get caught up in the endless back and forth of scheduling a meeting or appointment. Just let your virtual receptionist know who to book with, and ensure they have access to your calendar, and they will do the rest.
- Take calls when you’re busy. Leverage your time better by having someone else handle calls while you’re working with your clients.
- Take calls when you’re closed. You deserve a life outside of work. A good virtual receptionist team will have at least 12 hours of daily coverage so that your business can keep running, even when you clock out.
- Take calls when you’re on vacation. Need a break? Take some time off without worrying about what might be happening at the office. Calls will be handled and all your call-backs will be organized and waiting for you when you return.
- Focus on your critical tasks. Answering services can let you get back to actually doing the job that you enjoy and take the phone off your hands. This means more time in their day for focusing on the critically important tasks that are so often disrupted by the phone ringing.
- No cold calls. How much time have you wasted this last year on spam calls, robocalls, or telemarketers? Virtual receptionists will be able to act as your gatekeeper to ensure that no time is wasted on calls that won’t bring your firm value.
- No distractions. Need some head’s down time? Just let your virtual receptionist know that you’re not available and have some valuable focus time to yourself.
- Better worker productivity. You’re not the only one who has time wasted with phone calls. Your team will also be better able to focus on the activities that drive your business forward.
- Respond on your own time. Need some time to think about how to best serve a caller? No problem. Your virtual receptionist will take down their information and you will be able to respond on your own time, when you’re best prepared to help them.
- Better schedule management. How much time is lost each day due to all the little things that come up and throw your schedule out of whack? While a virtual receptionist service won’t be able to stop your coworkers popping in to chat, they will be able to manage the phones so that you are better able to keep your schedule on track.
- No more wrong numbers. Like with telemarketers, your virtual receptionist will be able to field any wrong numbers and let you stay focused.
“When asked what the most frustrating aspect of a customer service experience is, over a third of U.S. respondents (34%) chose ‘Automated Telephone System (IVR)/inability to reach a live person…’” – Cathy Reisenwitz, 16 Call Center Stats to Help You Stay On Top of the Trends in 2018, Capterra
Peace of Mind Benefits
- Calls will always be answered. It doesn’t matter what else might be going on in your business or life, you can rest assured that the phones are being handled.
- Helps you cope with the unexpected. Stuff happens. From emergencies to sudden booms in business that you aren’t prepared for. Regardless of the situation, your virtual receptionist team will be there to make sure that your business stays on track.
- Provide extended hours coverage. At some point, you will need to go home and sleep. With Donna’s extended hours coverage, you will know that even if a potential client calls outside of normal business hours, they will be taken care of.
- Cater to international clients. Maybe you want to expand your business to overseas markets, or maybe you just have multiple offices across time zones. Whatever the case, your virtual receptionist team has extended hours to ensure that we have at least some overlap with American and European markets.
- Check on paperwork/closings/appointments. Never worry about whether important paperwork got filed with the courts, or if the title agency received the closing documents from the lender. A good virtual receptionist service will be able to handle outbound calls to make sure that things are on track.
- No missed business opportunities. Never worry again about whether that missed call might have been a motivated lead. All calls will be professionally answered and their information taken down for you to follow up on if you’re not available.
- Never worry about missing important moments. How often have you taken a business call while with family, at a big life event, or during an important night out? Have the peace of mind to turn your phone off for the big moments and know that your calls are still being handled.
- No lost institutional knowledge. How much knowledge about best practices or the ‘little ins and outs’ of your business have been lost and had to be relearned when an employee left? Your virtual receptionist team will take notes in a central CRM so that all future agents working on your team will know just how you like things to be done.
- No commute time = happier team. And a happier team means better treatment of your clients.
- Replace with ease. Sometimes things just aren’t working out for whatever reason with a member of your team. With a professional answering service like Donna, you can just say the word and someone else will be assigned to your team. No questions, no lag time.
- Start immediately. Never worry about the time to train a new employee or wonder about how long until they are up to speed on how you like things done.
- No weather or emergency-related missed calls. Because Donna is distributed across the US, we’re open no matter what’s happening outside.
- Reduced managerial tasks. Don’t worry about disagreements between employees or documenting any time off requests. We take care of the management so you can focus on your business.
- No HR. Just like the above point, we take care of the downside of hiring employees so you just get the benefits.
- Flexible communications with your Virtual Receptionist. A good virtual receptionist will be able to communicate with you by multiple methods so that whatever you prefer, they are able to work how you like it.
- Audit trail. We keep a log of all calls and voicemails you have received for auditing purposes or general recordkeeping. Never worry about whether a call was documented or not again.
“72% of consumers say that when contacting [a business] they expect the agent to ‘know who they are, what they have purchased and have insights into their previous engagements.’” – 100 Essential Customer Service Statistics and Trends for 2019, Nextiva
- Get better online reviews. Consumers have made it clear that small things like knowing their call history or recognition that they are a repeat customer makes a difference. Small delights like this make for happier customers, and happy customers leave better reviews!
- Sound more established from day one. Afraid that potential callers will wonder how big you are if you answer the phone yourself? A virtual receptionist will give you the appearance of being much bigger than you are from the first day.
- Delight your customers with custom messages or outbound well-wishes. Have a few special customers with birthdays this week? Or just want to surprise a few particular clients? Let your virtual receptionist know and they can give them a friendly ring to wish them well on your behalf.
- Increases reliability and consistency. Your brand is one of the most important assets that you have in business. Knowing that your calls are being handled consistently and reliably is worth it’s weight in gold to protect your brand.
- Enhances value-add activities. Customers come to you not just for your service but also for your value-added services. The little things you do that differentiate you from your competitors. But your staff can’t provide those value-added services if they’re busy handling phone calls.
- Higher customer satisfaction. Clients of businesses that use Virtual Receptionists give an average of 10% higher customer satisfaction ratings.
- Reducing the time the customer has to wait to speak to a representative. Live receptionists are better able to provide customers with the proper information or direct them to the correct point of contact more quickly.
- Record and deliver messages. Need to let customers know about an important change? Let your virtual receptionist know and they can get that message out to clients when they call.
- Ensure all calls are returned. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a call back as a potential customer. Your virtual receptionist service will organize all your calls and deliver them to you in a handy email so that you can ensure each and every customer gets the attention they deserve.
- Compete with your larger competitors. The big guys have a whole team of front office staff handling their calls and helping them be more efficient. Why not you?
- Prompt call answering. Callers expect a fast pick up. If you are calling a business, what is your impression of the business that picks up in three rings vs the one that feels like hours have passed before someone picks up? Prompt call answering gives a much better experience for your clients.
- Dedicated training. When you hire a virtual receptionist company that services every industry, or when you hire a dedicated VR in-house, you miss out on all the additional training that an industry-specific virtual receptionist service can offer their staff. Your brand is too important to leave things up to a company that services plumbers alongside white collar businesses.
- Industry-specific language. Do you need to use specific terms or avoid certain phrases for legal restrictions or liability reasons? Want us to integrate your brand’s fun, quirky voice into every interaction we have with customers calling your business? We can do that, too.
- Build rapport with frequent callers. How cool would it be if you called Starbucks to order some coffee and the person on the other end of the line greeted you by name and asked if you wanted ‘the usual’? You would probably be a customer for life. Those small touches that a great virtual receptionist can implement are the little details that help you win over your callers as customers for life.
Are you ready to start experiencing these virtual receptionist benefits for your business? If you’re interested in finding a great virtual receptionist to help you grow your business while also letting you take back your life, save money, and enhance your brand, we’re ready to help.