5 Tips on Setting Up A Virtual Receptionist Service To Make Your Small Business Look Big

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Like most companies, your business is probably starting out small. This can be a detriment when you’re pitching prospects who want to know they can trust your product as much as they can trust your brand before committing to the sale. If you look small, it’s going to be difficult to get potential customers to drink your kool-aid.

One of the easiest ways for any small business to look big is to have a receptionist answering and screening calls. Think about it. If you call a company and the owner answers the phone, that company has 100% succeeded in looking small. If you call the same company and a receptionist answers to screen the call, that’s big business style. Now, most small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a receptionist. It’s just not cost effective unless that receptionist is wearing a few other hats. Lucky for you, virtual receptionists can perform the same functions as an in-house receptionist for a more affordable cost. You look big. You save money. You win! Here are 5 tips on how to setup your personal virtual receptionist service to make you look large and in charge.

#1. Screen and transfer every single call

Where your normal in-house receptionist might not be able to answer every single call that comes in, a team of virtual receptionists can. And, with a virtual receptionist service, you get more than one agent answering your calls at any given time, which means your callers won’t be re-routed to voicemail, a busy signal, or have to sit for 5 minutes on hold. No matter when your customers call up your business, a professional receptionist will be there to help answer questions, take messages or transfer calls accordingly.

Depending on the types of calls your business most often receives, you can also set up custom protocols that closely match your in-house procedures. For example, prospective sales calls can be transferred to your top sales team members, upset or frustrated callers can be transferred to your customer support team, and requests to speak with specific people can be routed accordingly.

#2. If they can’t transfer, implement a standard response

If your virtual receptionist is set up to try and transfer every phone call, chances are not all of them will result in a connection. Instead of having your agents get creative and come up with different responses each time a connection doesn’t go through, implement standard responses. That way no matter who is handling the call, the response is always the same. Here are some of the replies we recommend:

  • “I apologize, but Mrs. Jones is on the other line right now. Let me take your message and I’ll have her call you right back.”
  • “It looks like Mr. Smith stepped out of his office. However, I’ll pass on your message and have him call you back.”
  • “Ms. Epsom is currently in a meeting, but I’ll send over your message and have your call returned shortly.”

Pro tip: If you’ll be using your virtual receptionist 24/7, you may also want to consider creating different scripts to be used during business hours and after hours. If you set up the same response to be used around the clock, it won’t make sense to tell callers that “Mrs. Jackson is in a meeting right now” at midnight.  

#3. Equip them with basic information to answer questions

Aside from answering calls and greeting customers, receptionists are also great at answering questions on the behalf of the company. While a virtual receptionist won’t be able to greet any customers who walk through your doors, they can certainly help answer any questions callers may have, which means less follow-up you and your in-house staff have to worry about. All virtual receptionist services should be equipped with standard FAQs like where your business is located, your hours of operation, the services that are provided and the costs of said services. However, it’s also helpful to include more advanced information for questions that will undoubtedly come up. Depending on the type of business you run your questions will differ, but here are a few examples to start:

  • Do you accept insurance?
  • Are you currently accepting new clients?
  • Do you treat children under the age of 10?
  • Do you offer both residential and commercial services?
  • Is there an after hours service fee?
  • How long do appointments typically last?

#4. Have an alternate if you’re not available

If your virtual receptionist account is set up to transfer all calls, you’ll want to make sure you have a back up plan in case you or other team members are not available. Instead of trying the line once and letting the caller know no one is available, implement a protocol in which the receptionist asks the caller if they’d prefer to be transferred to another team member. That way your callers have the option to either leave their message for a return call, or they can speak with someone else and get assistance quicker than having to wait for a call back.

#5. Give your virtual receptionists the freedom to get personal

If your aim is to setup a personal virtual receptionist service, then you have to allow your agents the freedom to stray away from the status quo of a standard, dry, virtual receptionist experience. Here are some ways you can personalize your customers’ experience:

  • Look for a Per-Call billing structure: While this may not always be the case, per-call answering service billing structures typically have operator interactions that are screen driven, not script driven – meaning the agents see all of your information displayed on a screen instead of a structured if/then type of call script making the conversations more natural.
  • Implement a personalized greeting: If your business normally answers calls with a specific greeting, see if you can have your virtual receptionists use that greeting as well. Your callers will think they’ve reached your business directly, and your service will feel more like an extension to your business rather than a separate entity.
  • Remove automation: Automated services can be a great addition to any business, but you should know your audience before implementation. For example, if you run a small medical practice with mostly elderly patients, you may cause confusion and frustration by making your patients dial through an automated system just to receive help. If your goal is to create a personal experience, let your callers speak to a real person.
  • Encourage operators to engage with your callers: When your receptionists are upbeat, friendly, and quick to engage with callers, your customers will be happier and won’t ever hesitate to reach out when they need help. Some businesses may want their virtual receptionists to stick to the script and simply take a message, but having your receptionists ask callers how their day is and engage in actual conversation can definitely make your brand stand out among your competition.

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Specialty Answering Service is a leading call center company, helping fast-growing businesses close sales and deliver amazing live customer support 24 hours a day. SAS' friendly virtual receptionists and customized call handling create an outstanding virtual office experience. There are thousands of small businesses already using our services. Try SAS for free today.

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