With the development of the internet and areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI) there are an ever increasing number of functions both automated and manual that are being described as a virtual receptionist or a virtual assistant. Within this post I would like to cover some of the functions that are quite often referred to as a virtual receptionist. I will then detail what we at Virtual Reception call a virtual receptionist and how that service can have a huge positive impact on your small business.
What could be called a Virtual Receptionist
There is no fixed definition of what a virtual receptionist (VR) is. Here are a few examples of what different businesses are referring to as a VR.
1. Automated Service?
Automated services that get referred to as a VR are quite often simply sophisticated phone systems. Examples would be services like Telstra or Foxtel where you ring in with a problem and you have to talk the phone service through what the problem is. These services usually work through a logical structure that uses voice recognition to accept responses from the user and then to guide them through the potential solution. Some of these services can be quite frustrating however with the development of AI they will be used more and more. These types of services are very useful for large organisations where the incoming calls can be easily classified into distinct groups.
2. Holographic Display
This type of system is very much in it's infancy and has only just started to take off. The holographic VR is a computer display of a receptionist who can interact with individuals who require assistance at a specific place. The holographic VR may be positioned in the reception area of a business or they may be located at an information point in an airport. The idea is that the user interacts with an AI system and then a holographic or projected image of a person delivers the response.
3. AI Help Desk Service
A lot of larger organisations are developing AI systems to resolve customers problems or to deal with questions. Similar to the automated phone service, these services will interact via a chat function on a website. The AI engine will ask questions and then logically determine what the most appropriate action should be. These services are currently very popular with phone companies and despite being quite frustrating at present there is huge potential for them in the future.
4. Telephone Answering Services
The more traditional definition of virtual receptionist would be a receptionist service provided by a company like Virtual Reception. With our telephone answering service your incoming calls can be answered by a professional receptionist. We will answer your calls quickly and professionally and we will deliver a greeting that has been approved by you the business owner. Once we answer the call there are a number of possibilities for what we do next. Firstly, we can simply act as a gatekeeper and forward specific calls through to you. Secondly, we can provide some basic company information if required. Thirdly, we can take a message from the caller and then forward it through. If you do decide to have your message forwarded through then you have 2 options. Firstly, we can potentially forward through your message by SMS (for a small fee) and secondly we can forward through your message by email. Given that the majority of people these days have a smart phone and can receive their emails on their phone we find that the vast majority of our customers opt to receive their messages by email.
5. Virtual Assistant Services
A Virtual assistant is the next stage up from getting an answering service. Virtual assistants (VA's) will generally be a remote person (however sometimes people do use the term for automated services) who can assist you with a variety of clerical and administrative tasks to take the pressure off you. With the VA service offered by Virtual Reception you can define a whole series of tasks that you would like to be carried out. For instance, you may have a large number of people who are ringing in to book for a conference. Our VA would be able to take down the callers details and fill out a web form to register the registration. You could also use our VA's to take bookings from your customers and even schedule in meetings for you using your own scheduling software. The possibilities are endless!
How Can A Telephone Answering Service Help Your Business
If you do decide to go with the more traditional definition of a VR and you decide to get yourself a telephone answering service then you will be making a really beneficial decision for your business. Here are 5 reasons why we think that a VR would make really good sense for your business.
1. Give You Back Some Time
Back in the last century we all thought that automation and computers were going to make our lives significantly easier. Somewhere along the line that whole concept has changed and small business people seem to be much busier than they ever have before. Not only do you have to be an expert at marketing, an expert account and understand government regulation but there are more ways than ever for people to get in touch with you and rate your performance. Wouldn't it be great if you could offload some of the more menial tasks like answering the phone and taking orders from clients so that you could have more time to focus on the big picture issues and building your strategy. With a VR from Virtual Reception you can do just that. It makes really goods business sense.
2. Take Away The Menial Stuff
The old expression "can't see the wood for the trees" can be particularly relevant for a small business operator. Whilst you may have high level tasks that you want to accomplish you will be constantly swamped by minor time consuming tasks that just seem to consume all of your day. With a VR you can offload a lot of those time consuming tasks and focus your attention on the strategic tasks that will drive your business forward.
3. Deliver A Better Service
Lets face it, if you are preoccupied with an extremely complex task and you have spent the last hour trying to get your head around it then it is really unlikely that you are going to give it your best when you receive an incoming telephone call. To top things off you may have also just received 5 other calls that are all from telemarketers trying to sell you SEO or solar panels. When you get yourself a telephone answering service from Virtual Reception our professional receptionists will answer each and every call with the same level of professionalism and skill. You will get the peace of mind that your calls are being answered the way that you want them every single time.
4. Save You Money
Employing staff can be expensive. If you are city based then employing your own receptionist or admin staff member is probably going to cost you a minimum of $50k. On top of this sizeable salary you will also have to pay on costs such as superannuation, workers compensation insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, personal leave and more. When you sign up for a telephone answering service with us you only need to pay a small retainer plus a per call charge. It makes great financial sense. Many of our customers report saving as much as 40% off the cost of having an in-house staff member.
When you employ in-house staff it can be really time consuming and costly to scale up or scale back. If you have a marketing campaign and you are expecting a lot of calls then you will need to plan well in advance. When you make use of our services you can scale up or scale back almost instantly. If you have a big campaign going on then you could have 20 people answering your incoming calls. If you are having a slow period then you may not need any. We give businesses the flexibility that they need to grow rapidly.