Small businesses are always growing and changing, making it difficult to balance customer expectations with quality products. Investing in a virtual receptionist for small business is one way to create a professional image and meet customer expectations.
Consumers expect businesses to have the knowledge and resources to provide professional customer service. This can be a tall order for small businesses with a tight budget and few employees. In fact, consumers may even expect more from smaller businesses.
When asked in a survey why they prefer interacting with local businesses over national chains, 96% of consumers cited more personalized service, 91% said trustworthiness/treating customers fairly, and 80% said customer service. However, such high expectations don’t have to hold you back.
Your customer-facing communication system is the key to providing the service today’s customers expect. How quickly and efficiently you respond to calls reflects your company’s professionalism and your investment in meeting the needs of your customers. So how can a virtual receptionist help you efficiently handle changing call volumes without maxing out your budget?
Virtual Receptionists For Small Business: The Efficient and Personalized Service Your Customers Want
A virtual receptionist is a professional live agent who answers your business calls from an off-site location. This service enables your business to answer and manage inbound calls in the same way as an on-site receptionist would, without interrupting the workflow of you or your busy employees. High call volume and multiple extensions are easily handled by a dedicated live receptionist service.
When you start working with a virtual receptionist service, you’ll share details about your business and specific information regarding greeting callers. This can include a scripted business greeting, directions for guiding calls to the location of your choice, and other unique cases for different call types. Your virtual receptionist will have all the information needed to provide your callers with personalized communications and exceptional service.
A virtual receptionist service completes many of the same services as an in-house employee, including:
- Providing a professional and personalized greeting
- Scheduling, changing, or canceling appointments
- Answering frequently asked questions and providing business information
- Taking messages for multiple employees and sending them via text or email
- Routing calls to appropriate extensions, mobile phones, or voicemails based on customer needs
- Screening inbound calls to block spam and only forwarding calls relevant to your business
5 Ways a Virtual Receptionist Helps Small Businesses Improve Professional Communications
Professional images aren’t projected through quality products alone but through the entire customer experience. In many cases, small businesses don’t have the consistently high call volume that justifies a full-time on-site receptionist.
To cut costs, these companies often depend on available employees to answer calls. This approach can create an unwanted impression. Missed calls, casual greetings, and long hold times can undermine the professionalism of your business, costing you leads and sales.
While hiring a full-time receptionist may be an expense outside of your budget, professional communication is a crucial element of the customer experience. What’s a small business to do? A virtual receptionist for small business gives you the polished communication style you need to showcase your expertise with a variety of services, including the following:
1. A Professional and Predictable Greeting
A professional image inspires customer confidence. Consider the actions you expect from the businesses you interact with. Customer-facing employees typically wear uniforms and greet customers with company-specific language. When these actions are repeated over a period of time, they build a sense of familiarity for loyal customers.
A virtual receptionist acts as the face (or voice) of your business for customers who call your company. They answer all calls with a scripted greeting you provide and take steps to resolve requests quickly. Upon calling, customers receive a friendly introduction that immediately assures them they’ve reached the correct number.
Your virtual receptionist then uses engaging conversation skills to quickly assess the customer’s needs and accurately route the call. By providing the same high-quality experience every time, you build a professional image your loyal customers expect.
2. Quick and Confident Answers to Basic Questions
If you depend on your staff members to answer your calls, you may not recognize the time investment or inefficiency of this practice. While each call can distract from your workflow, not all calls require lengthy interaction or complex discussions. For example, a customer may simply want to talk to a live person to get directions to your store or ask if you’ll be open for an upcoming holiday.
When a basic call is routed to an answering service and then transferred, the customer may simply feel frustrated and abandon the call. Ensuring your employees are available to answer such calls might not be a better option when their time could be used more productively on another task.
In many cases, speed is the most important factor in quality service. Two-thirds of customers say speed is as important as price, and 50% of customers are less likely to spend money on a business that takes longer to respond than they expect.
An immediate answer to basic questions can provide a consumer with the information they need to become a loyal customer. A virtual receptionist can answer calls during both high-volume periods and slow days. They’re equipped with basic knowledge about your business and know which calls to route to employees. This knowledge prepares them to provide immediate answers to basic questions and resolve simple issues, adding speed to your list of customer service qualities.
3. Streamlined Appointment Setting
Consumers interact with businesses to gain the benefits of the goods or services provided. Barriers (including cumbersome appointment scheduling processes) that make your services difficult to access can lead customers to search for an easier solution. If your business involves appointments with your customer base, you know that customers need a simple way to schedule appointments with your business—one that isn’t compromised by long wait times or callbacks.
Your virtual receptionist can set appointments without requiring any interaction from you. When callers want to make, postpone, or cancel an appointment, a live agent can take care of the request and update your calendar to reflect the new schedule. Customers get the benefits of seamlessly scheduling appointments, and your business maintains production because the process is completed without interrupting employee workflows.
4. Personalized Communication with a Human Touch
A seamless customer experience is delivered when an individual can interact with your business without frustration and quickly have their needs met. To deliver such an experience, the entire focus should be on the customer.
While some automated services can help you meet certain business goals, they aren’t always adequate for customer service. A whopping 82% of US customers want more human interaction from businesses. This personalized interaction eliminates irritation caused by automated systems that make it hard to connect with a service agent.
A virtual receptionist for small businesses delivers the human connection customers crave along with the personal attention they need to quickly resolve issues. Your callers receive an immediate, professional greeting from an experienced customer service agent who can quickly make decisions to resolve customer issues and requests. You can offer the same white glove service provided by larger companies without the cost of hiring a full-time receptionist.
5. Effective Call Routing
When customers call your business, they want to enjoy your products or services without delays or issues. Part of that involves resolving issues quickly and efficiently. A call that requires multiple transfers or fails to solve the problem only results in frustration.
A live agent can help customers avoid the dreaded customer service runaround. While virtual agents aren’t working on-site, they have the same information about your business as a front-desk attendant. When a call needs to be addressed immediately, your virtual attendant can correctly and efficiently transfer the call to the right employee to handle the situation.
Live attendants make decisions in real time based on the information you provide and their interactions with your customers. They can route incoming calls to any number of extensions, mobile phones, or voicemails. Customers quickly get their needs met through a seamless and professional interaction that gives them confidence in your business.
Inspire Customer Confidence with a Virtual Receptionist for Small Business
A virtual receptionist is a professional customer service representative with experience in providing clients with the white glove service they expect. They can help small businesses provide professional communications that improve the customer experience.
With the power of a virtual call center, small businesses can deal with fluctuating call volumes efficiently and meet customer needs more effectively without compromising employee workflows. Customers get the personalized attention they need, and you can keep your business operations on track.
Live receptionist services from Phone.com can give your business versatility, flexibility, and improved availability. Our US-based live receptionists ensure your calls are always answered and customer requests are resolved quickly in the manner that best suits your company. Getting started only requires a simple intake interview, and we typically begin answering calls within 48 hours. Learn more about how a virtual receptionist can help you create a professional image for your small business.