What is call screening and how does it work?

Call screening: smiling man in suit sits in sparse office talking on the phone while gesturing with free hand

When business is slow and the phone isn’t ringing, answering calls doesn’t seem like a big deal. But as business picks up and those calls start coming in fast and furious, suddenly you realize—you need help! 

That’s where the right virtual receptionist solution can save the day. And one of the most overlooked yet useful capabilities of virtual receptionists is call screening. 

What is call screening?

Call screening is the process of filtering incoming calls to ensure relevant ones reach the right person—and making sure irrelevant ones don’t suck up anyone’s valuable time. 

Thus, call screening applies to every incoming call. Sometimes the screening process takes a few moments before an appropriate decision can be made. 

The screener has to listen long enough (and perhaps ask enough questions) to determine: 

  • Is the call an unwanted sale pitch or a time-wasting robocall
  • Is the call relevant to your business? 
  • If so, who should it be routed to (and are they available)? 
  • If not, how do you politely break free and ensure the caller doesn’t call back? In the case of repeated unwanted callers, it may be worth the time to block those phone numbers! 

Many of us engage in call screening all the time, even if we don’t realize it. If you answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize—or if you’re suddenly unavailable whenever you see a certain family member trying to reach you—you’re screening your calls.

But it’s a little (or a lot) trickier when it’s for a business. For one, who’s going to do all this screening? You, if you’re a one-person shop, such as a solo attorney office. Or maybe an equally busy team member you delegated the cumbersome chore to! 

Of course, if you have the financial resources to spare, an in-house receptionist or assistant will do nicely. But if you’re looking to stay lean and avoid unnecessary costs, we suggest using virtual receptionists who can expertly handle and screen your incoming calls.

Why does a business need call screening?

There’s also the fact that businesses can’t really afford to simply ignore unknown callers or avoid certain numbers. After all, that unfamiliar number can be an opportunity to connect with a new customer or client. And that person who bugs you a bit too often might be paying you or could even spread negative word of mouth if you don’t communicate with them the way they want.

That said, not every call is worth your time. It’s easy to see how a few unwanted calls can add up to a ton of lost productivity. 

Each time you or one of your workers gets thrown off-track because of a nonessential call, it takes several minutes to regain focus on the task at hand. That’s where virtual receptionist call screening can help! 

Implemented correctly, virtual receptionists save your business time, energy—and money—by fielding nonessential calls—while transferring the important ones to the proper business team member. 

But that’s not all they do… at least, not when you use Ruby!

Ruby’s virtual receptionists are trained to capture and qualify leads, schedule appointments, perform client intake, take messages, answer FAQs, collect payments, make outbound calls when needed, and more.

Having a virtual receptionist on standby to screen calls will free up your team’s valuable time so everyone can work more effectively. 

Another advantage? Ruby’s virtual receptionists are available 24/7, 365 days a year! That means your business will never miss a call, never miss an opportunity, and never have to deal with an overflowing voicemail box. 

By ensuring only relevant calls reach the necessary person or people, client interactions are more targeted and productive. So who does that work exactly, you ask? Let’s find out.

How call screening works

Naturally, your business can’t afford to screen out calls that matter. So it’s imperative to pick a call handling service provider you can trust. 

At Ruby, we tailor the approach to call screening based on your needs, taking into consideration variables such as your business industry, number of staff, location, customer base, and technological capabilities. 

When appropriate, we can leverage our high-tech automated call filtering based on the parameters our partners provide. Just give us your list of calls to automatically route, transfer, or block, share any additional criteria, and let us do the rest. 

You even have the flexibility to create custom greetings, or engage customers with 24/7 live answering and website chat. For such personalized service, our 24/7 virtual receptionists serve as the first line of contact, standing by to make a winning first impression—while using our proprietary system to sound like they’re in-house. This works simply by using the data you provide, such as:

  • Business hours and details 
  • Staff rosters with job titles
  • Name pronunciations and nicknames
  • Current availability of staff members
  • Notes about calls that staff members are screening for
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Specific call handling instructions (including routing calls by department, topic, or name)
  • Access to local area maps to offer directions
  • Parking instructions for visitors
  • Local weather conditions

Curious how this all works? Watch our online demo.

And for more tips and guides about phone calls, small business growth, and more, make sure to check out our other blog posts!