Most businesses that grow to a certain point all reach the same realization: They’re getting too many calls, and they need a receptionist.
This is an exciting time, because it means that your business is thriving and that you’re at the next level of scaling.
It can also be nerve-wracking, especially if the business is on a tight budget and can’t afford to pay a $35,000 a year salary + benefits for an administrative assistant who could only work at most forty-ish hours a week. Any more than that, then you’d need to hire a second.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this dilemma, and that’s hiring a remote receptionist. Let’s dive in and take a close look at what remote receptionists are, how they work, and the benefits to consider.
What Is A Remote Receptionist?
Remote receptionists are often qualified, highly-trained customer service agents that are employed by a third-party answering service.
Remote receptionists can answer your calls and help your customers and vendors. They’ll be able to use your branded language and treat your customers as an in-office receptionist would.
It’s as simple as that.
How It Works
Remote receptionists work thanks to simple call-forwarding.
This includes answering all calls that go to a certain number first (like your business’s primary phone number), calls that occur during a certain time frame, or answering calls that aren’t answered within the first three rings by your in-office staff.
And even though they’re not in-office, remote receptionists can do just about everything someone at a desk 9 to 5 could do. They can screen your calls for you (patching the most important calls straight through to the right team members), take messages, capture lead information, process payments, and more.
The beauty of answering services, too, is that you’ve got an on-demand receptionist at all times. Here at PATLive, we’ve got agents staffed 24/7 so that your customers will always get prompt attention no matter when they call.
Once you hire an answering service, they’ll take the time to learn about your business and policies. Their team will work to create advanced call handling instructions with your help and approval, which will dictate how agents help your customers.
After the call, your remote receptionists will send you any information that you may need from it. This includes lead information and messages taken. You can choose to have the team send you real-time summaries after each call or send a daily report unless there’s an urgent matter at hand.
Quality answering services should be able to integrate with whatever software and tools you’re already using, including those that allow you to process payments or track customer relationships. If you choose to enable this, remote receptionists are able to act as a true seamless extension of your team.
What About Billing?
Remote receptionists and live answering services are third-party vendors, not staff members.
They are not employed by you, so you don’t need to worry about benefits or salaries; you pay for the calls you need at a flat-rate, monthly price.
Different answering services charge in different ways.
In order to know exactly what you can expect to pay and to avoid surprises, you can choose an answering service that allows you to purchase packages containing a set number of minutes, phone numbers, and additional features.
At PATLive, we offer flexibility if you’re not sure how many minutes you need. Though we have flat-priced packages (starting at $149 for 75 live talk minutes), we also have a pay-as-you-go plan for only $39 per month plus usage. And, we offer a 14-day free trial that can help you assess your need without overpaying while you’re getting started.
The Benefits of Working with a Remote Receptionist
There are so many benefits to working with a remote receptionist, and in many cases it’s actually more advantageous for a business to hire a remote receptionist then an in-office receptionist.
The first is one that we’ve mentioned already: Answering services will be available for ‘round the clock assistance. You don’t need to worry about time off, holiday pay, or graveyard shifts; members of our team will always be available to help your customers.
Cost is another major benefit. Instead of paying $35,000 a year or more plus benefits for a single team member who is only available for 9-5, you’re getting access to as many agents as needed to answer your calls quickly at any hour of the day. You’re retaining more customers because the phones are answered faster, and it costs less than the standard receptionist.
Which brings us to another huge benefit that you should never overlook: Having someone there to answer your phones at all hours is essential for the continued growth of your business. If a customer calls to ask about your products or services but doesn’t hear back, you might have lost them forever. The ability to have a friendly and professional live agent answer your phones every time will help you avoid losing sales opportunities, making your customer acquisition efforts easier and more effective.
We know that you’ve worked hard to get customers and leads calling your business; we’ll help you make sure that they never slip between your fingers.
If your business is on the cusp of scaling to the point where you’re considering additional help (or if you’ve reached that point already), consider hiring a remote receptionist before you do anything else, even if you want an in-office worker.
Some businesses strongly prefer hiring an in-office assistant, and then use remote receptionists to handle call overflow or incoming calls during off-hours. Think about your needs and what will work best for you.