Questions to ask before signing up for a virtual receptionist service

Ask these 10 questions when evaluating a virtual receptionist provider:

1. Will 100% of my calls be answered live?

Many providers only answer calls live 70–80% of the time, often taking up to a minute to pick up or sending callers to an automated greeting. Some providers answer live exclusively during fixed operating hours (such as 6am–6pm) or charge customers more for after-hours and weekend service. To ensure every one of your callers receives a consistent experience, ask if each call will be answered live by a receptionist, 24/7/365. Make sure to also ask about the average number of rings before each call is answered.

2. Are your receptionists based in the US?

When evaluating a virtual receptionist provider, think about your typical customer: Where are they calling from? What is their preferred language? Receptionists with similar accents and speech patterns to your callers are better able to express empathy, understand colloquialisms, and build connections—leaving current and potential customers with the right impression of your business. The right virtual receptionist solution will generate more actionable leads, increase customer loyalty, and give you time back in your day.

3. Do you offer receptionist services in English and Spanish?

The United States is home to the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. If your provider can’t communicate with Spanish speakers, your business is missing out on a sizable and growing population of potential customers or clients.

4. Does your solution support multiple communication channels?

For people looking to connect with your business, phone calls are one channel among many. In fact, many potential customers will visit a company’s website before reaching out via phone. As a result, businesses that implement chat on their websites see conversion rates increase by as much as 40%. Ask your provider if they offer live chat and if they also provide a call connect feature for chat users.

5. What other features does the solution include?

Answering calls is one small piece of providing exceptional service and engaging your customers. Evaluate whether the provider offers the following key features:

  • Live transfers: Are virtual receptionists able to transfer calls to your chosen device, whenever you prefer?

  • Personalized greetings: Are virtual receptionists able to make great first impressions, communicate your company’s values, and connect meaningfully with callers from the moment they answer the phone?

  • Customized call handling: New prospects, current customers or clients, family members, solicitors—each of your callers has a different need. The best virtual receptionists adapt their approach to provide the optimal experience for each caller, following call instructions determined by you.

  • FAQs: Can a receptionist answer basic questions about your business (hours, location, etc.)? Delegating this responsibility saves you valuable time each day—time that can be spent growing your business.

  • Desktop and/or mobile application: Does the service provide you with an easy way to view messages, update your status, change your preferences, and manage other activities at your convenience?

  • Message intake and appointment scheduling: Can the service gather key information from your callers and schedule appointments on your behalf? These capabilities can save you hours, give you important visibility into caller conversations, and eliminate busywork for your business.

6. Do you provide ongoing support from a real person?

A company that specializes in customer engagement should provide exceptional service for its own customers—including you. Ask the provider about the experience you can expect to receive. Will an onboarding specialist work with you to customize the solution to your needs? Does the provider offer a help center to troubleshoot issues? Or, better yet, does every customer have a dedicated Success Manager (the best VR solutions do!)

7. Does your company provide training and supervision for receptionists to ensure quality?

Unhappy receptionists make for unhappy callers. Top-performing providers rigorously train their team in empathy and compassion while monitoring receptionists to ensure they follow instructions to the letter. At Ruby, receptionists are divided into groups, each with a leader who monitors quality and meets with receptionists individually to discuss their performance. Our company also adheres to an all-encompassing service pyramid to ensure the best experience for our team members and the people we serve.

8. Do you own the technology powering your solution?

Customer expectations are constantly changing, and your virtual receptionist solution should be able to adjust to accommodate these evolving needs. Providers that rely on a third-party platform to power their solutions don’t have the ability to update their offerings based on feedback. Ask the provider if they use proprietary technology and whether they have an internal product team that regularly makes improvements based on customer needs.

9. Does your company offer flexible plans that meet the needs of my business?

 Your business needs are unique, and your virtual receptionist plan should be built to match. Ask the provider how they determine which plan best fits your needs and whether you’re able to move between plans as your business evolves. Be sure to confirm what features are included and whether any features come with an additional cost. Finally, ask the provider about contract length, cancellation fees, and whether you can keep your phone number if you discontinue service. Long-term contracts can lock you into a costly relationship, particularly if your minutes vary from month to month. Truly business-centric providers shape their solution entirely for their customers.

10. How does your solution help my business grow?

Serving as the frontline of your customer communication is no small task. The provider should be able to explain how they will serve as a partner in your growth. Will they provide ongoing support? Can they offer their expertise to improve your customer experience and give you insights into metrics that will help you see the return on investment from your marketing efforts? A worthwhile provider will deliver clear, quantifiable results—such as more business, higher satisfaction rates, and more hours back in your day—that align with your business’s bottom line.

Ask these 10 questions, and you’re sure to find a provider you can trust to deliver great first impressions, delight your customers or clients, and grow your business.