Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with tough decisions. While business ownership comes with many perks, the pressure to make the right choices can be immense. Some decisions will have a relatively small impact on your business, but others can decide your success or failure as a company. Indeed, many decisions are actually opportunities in disguise. Hiring, for example, offers business owners the opportunity to chart a new course for the position, bringing in fresh blood and a new set of skills to the team. The decision to hire a virtual receptionist over someone in-house can be tough, but more and more companies are finding that virtual support has its advantages.
Benefits of a Virtual Receptionist
Imagine hiring an employee who can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available nights, weekends and holidays. Even if they had superhuman abilities to go without sleeping or eating, paying them to answer phones and assist customers for those kinds of hours would likely be out of the question. A salary, plus medical benefits, sick leave and paid vacation days add up quickly. A team of virtual receptionists, on the other hand, can work around the clock and are only paid for the time they actually spend on the phone with your callers. This means that virtual receptionists are a much better value than the average in-person assistant.
Virtual receptionists also offer a degree of flexibility not normally available for in-house help. For example, if you’ve got a slow afternoon and want to take over the phone line yourself for the day, you can set the phone line so that you’ve got first crack at answering calls. Should business pick up or you need to run out of the office, you can easily flip your line over to your virtual receptionist and they will immediately be in place to handle phone calls. This flexibility allows you to quickly pivot without worrying about jeopardizing an employee’s hours or income.
Sacrificing the presence of an in-house receptionist doesn’t mean sacrificing quality customer service. A virtual receptionist can be just as knowledgeable about your company and services as anyone you might hire in person. They’re also trained to be resourceful and think on their toes. A virtual receptionist can work with you to customize a script that they can use to provide answers to frequently asked questions and more. You can tailor the things your receptionist says as much or as little as you’d like.
Just like an in-house receptionist, a remote receptionist can schedule appointments, transfer calls, give callers a polished, professional brand experience, and plenty more.
The Pros (and Cons) of an In-House Receptionist
There is an undeniable appeal in hiring an in-house receptionist. An experienced receptionist can be an administrative hero, juggling your calls and schedule for you while you hone in on the most important items on your to-do list. These professionals are only human, though. At some point, even the most capable of receptionists will need a lunch break, a sick day or a vacation. They’ll also need healthcare and dental benefits, life insurance and a competitive wage.
While in-house receptionists can greet walk-ins with a smile, they’re limited by their ability to manage so many tasks at once. Because a person can only answer one phone call at a time, your customers will inevitably find themselves calling in and getting a busy signal or your voicemail. Rather than call back, many will opt to give your competitor a ring instead. Missed calls are missed opportunities, and when an in-house receptionist is overwhelmed, your customers may take their business elsewhere.
There are other costs to consider before hiring an in-house receptionist, too. On top of a salary and benefits, you’ll also need to supply your employee with office supplies. Though a few pens and pencils might not seem like much, the reality is that the average employee needs about $228 worth of supplies per year. Consider, too, the cost of hiring a replacement receptionist should your employee decide to quit. It’s estimated that it costs 16 percent of an employee’s salary to replace them. That’s a large chunk of change for any business, especially one with slim profit margins.
Some businesses find that they don’t need someone physically sitting in their office to perform the role of receptionist. Others can’t seem to do without a person at their front desk. And then there are businesses who have incorporated a combination of both in-house and virtual receptionists.
Because virtual receptionists are so flexible and such a great value, you can partner with them to supplement your office staff. Have your in-house receptionist man the phones during traditional business hours, and then hand the reins over to the virtual receptionist after 5:00, on holidays plus weekends, or even when things get too busy during the day. This offers your customers the best of both worlds: round-the-clock support no matter when they might need it and fantastic customer experience no matter who might be picking up their call.
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Author: Andrew Tillery