What does a virtual receptionist do?

What does a virtual receptionist do?

Virtual receptionists specialize in creating meaningful connections with callers. But how do they make those connections happen? What tools do they use to streamline and elevate customer communication?

Let’s take a look at what virtual receptionists do every day (24/7/365) for the businesses they serve—and how they do it.

Full-time, part-time, and backup call answering

Every organization that outsources customer communication has its own call handling needs and preferences. Some are looking for part-time or backup support. Others opt to have virtual receptionists answer all their calls.

When you use virtual receptionists for full-time answering, a team of trained professionals is available to connect with callers whenever your business is open. This could mean 24/7/365, or the hours a full-time employee may work, for example, 9am–5pm. Learn more about full-time answering.

However, not every organization needs a full-time customer communication solution. Some already have in-house customer service teams, while others see seasonal fluctuations in call volume. That’s where part-time answering comes in. Part-time answering gives you flexibility and options—such as after-hours, on holidays, or during meetings. Learn more about part-time answering.

Virtual receptionists are also able to provide backup answering, sometimes referred to as delayed call forwarding or conditional call forwarding. 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, after a certain number of rings, or if your line is busy. Learn more about backup answering.

Whenever an individual or company needs them, virtual receptionists are available to act as the frontline of a business and ensure callers receive a consistent, personalized experience every time they call. But that’s not all. Virtual receptionists can also help take the pressure off business owners and their teams by handling both basic and growth-boosting tasks.

These include:

  • Appointment scheduling: When people call a business, virtual receptionists can schedule appointments on their behalf using the company’s preferred calendaring system, so employees are never double-booked.
  • Call screening and transferring: Customers are important—but not every call that comes in needs a business owner’s or employee’s immediate attention. Virtual receptionists save businesses time and energy by fielding nonessential calls while transferring important callers to the business owner or their team.
  • Lead capture and qualification: In addition to screening calls, virtual receptionists use their knowledge about the business they’re representing to identify leads and pass that information back to the company.
  • Message intake and answering frequently asked questions: Virtual receptionists act as the touchpoint between a business and its customers or clients—taking messages, gathering intake, directing callers to information on the website, and fielding FAQs on the organization’s behalf.
  • Outbound calling: Whether they need an appointment set, more information from a customer, a loose end tied up, or something else communicated proactively, businesses can have virtual receptionists make outbound calls on their behalf.

24/7 live chat

Think virtual receptionists just answer the phone? Think again! Some virtual receptionist solutions are also available to deliver the same unforgettable experiences to your website visitors as well—through live chat.

Live chat is a web-based form of communication that allows companies to engage with their online site visitors—enabling real-time interactions, increasing sales conversion, and building loyalty and satisfaction.

If you’ve ever visited a website and been greeted by a pop-up box encouraging you to “chat now” with a support agent, you’ve seen a company’s live chat tool in action.

Why chat?

Chat isn’t just for customer support. It can be an essential part of a company’s customer engagement strategy—the way the business connects with, markets services, and sells solutions to customers.

Using virtual receptionists to respond to website visitors via live chat enables a business to:

  • Meet demand around the clock: Over 80% of customers expect a response from businesses within an hour. That expectation doesn’t end after 5 pm. Live chat can give customers immediate support whenever they need it. The best virtual receptionists respond quickly, within an average of 45 seconds.
  • Extend the capabilities of its team: For most companies, providing 24/7 live chat support means hiring more people. And increasing headcount isn’t just costly, but complicated from an HR and compliance standpoint. Virtual receptionists can meet this need without unnecessary stress, risk, costs, and paperwork.
  • Generate new leads: Live chat has been proven to generate more leads than other tools and strategies. Virtual receptionists can be trained by experts in a company’s field, making them capable of handling the types of qualifying questions necessary to generate real leads. In many cases, these leads would not have otherwise been created.
  • Overcome objections in real time: As business-to-consumer communication has shifted away from face-to-face interactions and into the digital world, companies have lost the ability to overcome objections. More than a third (35%) of salespeople say overcoming price objections is one of the biggest challenges to any customer relationship. Live chat gives you the chance to address customers’ specific concerns in real time.

What virtual receptionists do at Ruby

Ruby is a leading provider of virtual receptionist services for small businesses. We’ve been active in the industry since 2003 and have established many of the standards businesses expect from virtual receptionists.

At Ruby, receptionists are the friendly, professional, personal voices who create stellar first impressions and provide unreal service on behalf of our customers. A typical receptionist handles hundreds of interactions per day, connecting callers to the appropriate contacts or providing clear, concise details in line with customers’ guidelines and instructions. Applying their extensive training and communication skills, receptionists ensure each caller feels heard while creating connections that give businesses opportunities to grow and thrive.

Diagram showing how virtual receptionists work

At a high level, our team’s capabilities include:

  • Call handling
  • Managed live chat
  • 24/7 live answering
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call screening
  • Call routing
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Answering frequently asked questions
  • Lead capture
  • Message-taking and message delivery
  • New client intake

Ruby’s virtual receptionists are trained to represent any business seamlessly within seconds. Our proprietary technology goes a long way toward making this possible. When a receptionist picks up the phone or answers a chat, their workstation’s screen displays key details about the organization or individual they’re representing. Details include:

  • Name and basic overview of the business
  • Call handling instructions
  • Company directory
  • Office location, along with local details such as time and weather

Our receptionists have every detail they need to answer with confidence, make the other person feel taken care of, and handle the interaction in line with the business’s instructions.

Ruby also has senior receptionists, who do everything receptionists do while supporting and guiding new hires through their first 90 days. Additionally, our coaches and service managers ensure quality, efficiency, high morale, team cohesion, and strategic alignment.

This is just a brief overview of how virtual receptionists work. For more insights, download Ruby’s guide: What is a virtual receptionist?

What virtual receptionists do has changed throughout the years—and will likely continue to change for years to come. To fully understand the role of a virtual receptionist, it’s important to know the origins of the job and the industry, and how both have evolved over the past few decades.