In-House vs. Virtual Receptionists: How to Choose

Answering Service Small Business virtual receptionist
Aug 12, 2020 / 3 min read

As a business owner, receptionists help make your world go around by taking simple tasks off your hands so you can focus on the big picture. They can do almost anything for your business such as eliminate the ringing phone, screen calls, support clients, manage your calendar, process payments – the list goes on and on. 

If your business has grown to the point of needing a receptionist, (congratulations!) know that you have options. Receptionists can be part-time, full-time, 24/7, in-office, or even across the country. It’s ultimately up to you to find your best fit, so how do you choose? We’ve compiled the top items to consider when choosing between an in-house and virtual receptionist service for your business.

Call Volume

How many phone calls do you get in an hour? How long does a typical call last? Do you ever receive multiple calls at the same time? 

A single in-house receptionist can be a huge asset for your business in many ways, but can only handle so many phone calls in a business day. We all know that missed calls are missed opportunities — if your business receives a high volume of calls, it might be advantageous to outsource some help.

Call Complexity

What types of phone calls do you receive? Will a majority of the calls be screened and sent to you? Would you ideally have your receptionist handle calls and client requests from start to finish? 

The complexity of your inbound phone calls is a major indicator of what type of receptionist is right for you. For example, if you’re a realtor looking simply for lead capture, your calls will be easier for a virtual receptionist to handle than if an established client calls for information about the status of their listing. 

Phone Hours

What hours do you plan on being available for callers? Is it common for you to receive calls after hours? Are you missing calls during lunch?

As humans, we take comfort in speaking with other humans as opposed to a machine. Reaching a live agent assures us that we’ve been heard and usually provides us with faster solutions. If you have customers reaching a machine more often than a live person, you might consider a receptionist solution that improves your bandwidth to answer more calls. 

Budget 

How much can you afford to spend on a receptionist? Hiring a receptionist may seem like a huge added expense (and it can be), but should be considered as an investment in the long-run. Improved customer service is tied directly to ROI, read this post to learn more.

To gain a better understanding of receptionist costs, check out our post that breaks down a full pricing comparison of an in-house receptionist and a virtual receptionist service.

Experience

Your leads and customers are some of your most important assets, and you don’t want just anyone representing your business. Many times, your receptionist is providing the first impression of your business, so you need them to be trustworthy and professional.

When choosing a receptionist, search for someone who is familiar with your line of work and has experience supporting customers over the phone. From there, you can train them on the ins and outs of your organization.

How to Choose

Every business is so different, there’s no wrong answer for which type of receptionist is best for you. Here are some guidelines that can help you decide.

In-house receptionists are great for businesses that:

  • Need help in the office with tasks other than phone support
  • Are in a niche industry with complex phone calls

Virtual receptionists work well for businesses that:

  • Don’t have time to find and train a receptionist
  • Are missing valuable phone calls during the day or after hours
  • Need phone support but can’t afford a full-time receptionist

Still conflicted? Maybe a combination of both in-house and virtual receptionists is the solution your business needs. 

For example, let’s say you operate an auto shop and have someone in-house to greet customers, take payments, and work with insurance claims. Meanwhile, you’re missing potential customers when the phone isn’t answered in a timely manner. 

A virtual receptionist can supplement the calls your in-house receptionist can’t handle. Adding a virtual receptionist service means your callers will always be greeted with a live, friendly voice and can schedule appointments, leave a message, or even be transferred through to a team member. 


Once your business is established with a steady client base, hiring a receptionist is a no-brainer. They reduce your workload and boost productivity so that you can focus on running and growing your business. 

However, hiring a receptionist is a big decision. You need someone you can trust with customers and sensitive business information, but also someone that won’t break the bank. When choosing a receptionist or a virtual receptionist service, consider the items above. Your business is unique and your receptionist service should be too.