Using virtual receptionists for backup answering

Imagine a happier, more efficient world. A world where you have total control over communication with your customers or clients. A world where the people who call your business always speak to a friendly human professional—whether you or a member of your staff is available to pick up the phone or not.

You don’t need to imagine that world. You can make it a reality by using virtual receptionists for backup answering.

What is backup answering?

Using a virtual receptionist service for backup answering is more or less what it sounds like. A virtual receptionist picks up the phone when you or another representative of your company is busy or inaccessible.

In other words, someone else steps in when you need backup.

Backup answering is sometimes referred to as delayed call forwarding or conditional call forwarding, among other terms. (At Ruby, we often use the term “call forward / busy no answer.”)

Whatever you, uh, call it, this type of call forwarding differs from full-time and part-time answering in that calls come to you first, then to the virtual receptionist service if a condition is met.

For example, you can have backup answering “kick in” after a certain number of rings, or if your line is busy. Backup answering is especially useful for people who like to answer their own phones but may have an unreliable signal. It’s also great when you’re traveling and don’t have consistent access to your network or need to keep your device in airplane mode.

When virtual receptionists answer the phone, they can do practically anything an in-house receptionist can do, including…

  • Transfer calls to you or members of your team
  • Direct people to relevant information on your website
  • Handle customer service inquiries
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Gather insights about the people you serve
  • Assist with outbound calls
  • Onboard new clients
  • Schedule appointments
  • Qualify new leads
  • Make lasting first impressions
  • And much more!

Benefits of backup answering

1. Full coverage for your callers

Never leave a caller hanging. With backup answering, virtual receptionists take calls during busy periods, outages, times when you or your in-house team is preoccupied or out of the office, or any time you need support.

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2. Greater flexibility

Backup answering makes it easy to use a virtual receptionist service only when you need to or would like to. Maybe you usually prefer to answer your phone yourself, but want to take the day off, or need an uninterrupted afternoon. With backup answering, you can rest easy knowing the line is handled.

3. Less pressure on you and your team (plus cost savings)

Whether you have one or more in-house receptionists or can answer most calls personally, you might not be able to pick up 100% of the time. But virtual receptionists can. Backup answering acts as a safety net for any calls you or your team may miss. It’s a cost-effective (and stress-free) alternative to hiring more customer communication staff or extending the hours your business is available by phone.

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Why not just use an answering machine?

Do you really need to use virtual receptionists for backup answering? That depends entirely on your business goals and the needs of your callers.

If you’re not bothered by the idea that a caller who doesn’t reach you live needs to leave a message—and might decide to contact one of your competitors as a result—by all means, stick with voicemail.

But if you’re unable to answer 100% of calls live and want to make sure you’re capturing every opportunity, using virtual receptionists for backup answering is your best bet. It’s an easy and powerful way to create consistent human connections with your callers.

By the way, if you need more than backup answering, virtual receptionists are also available to represent your business part-time and even full-time.

What kinds of organizations use virtual receptionists for backup answering?

No two businesses are the same—and no two use cases for virtual receptionists are the same either.

Some professionals and teams rely on virtual receptionists to answer all or most of their calls, 24/7.

Other organizations use virtual receptionists for certain pre-established times, such as nights and weekends.

And still others are best served by backup answering, with service varying week by week, day by day, or even moment by moment.

People and organizations who use backup answering include:

  • Organizations with variable and/or unexpected call volumes
  • Organizations that need support for in-house customer communication teams
  • Professionals who travel often
  • Professionals temporarily located in areas with unreliable or sporadic phone signals
  • Organizations that deal with intermittent outages
  • Any professional or organization who wants to ensure every caller speaks to a real person every time

Wondering if using virtual receptionists for backup answering is the right move for you and your callers? Consider the following questions:

  • Do you or your team struggle to answer every single call you receive?
  • Are you or your team sometimes caught off-guard by more calls than you anticipate?
  • Do you need more customer communication coverage but would rather avoid bringing on another new hire?
  • Do you or other team members receive frequent calls and travel often?
  • Are you interested in using a virtual receptionist service but don’t feel ready to implement it full-time or part-time yet?
  • Do you sometimes work in areas where phone network coverage is poor or less than ideal?
  • Would you benefit from the option of outsourcing customer communication from time to time?
  • Is it important that everyone who calls you or your business speaks to a real person every time?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it might be time to use a virtual receptionist service.

Learn more about how virtual receptionists work to grow your business and delight your customers. Download our guide: