One of the great things about a virtual receptionist and an answering service is that they are very flexible and can do all sorts of things to meet your needs. They can take messages, forward calls, answer customer questions, schedule appointments, and screen calls. They can answer the phone when your business is closed, or when you're out of the office. However, a virtual receptionist won't do everything, so don't consider it as a form of outsourcing. Here are six things a virtual receptionist won't do:
- Send Handwritten Notes - Christmas cards are a great way to show your clients that you care, and that you're thinking of them. Thank you cards are also a nice touch, or perhaps a card for your favorite customer's birthday. Maybe a receptionist in your office will do this, but a virtual receptionist won't. If this is something that you'd like your business to do, or simply think that it would be a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers to keep them around, then you need to take this on yourself because a virtual receptionist won't.
- Edit Your Correspondence - An in-house receptionist can tackle all sorts of tasks that aren't necessarily in the job description, but can be handled once in a while. Editing correspondence for spelling and grammar is one of them, and that's another thing a virtual receptionist won't do. A virtual receptionist is supposed to take calls and to work with customers, not help with any and all your administrative duties. This person is a service, not an employee, so you can't have them do all those little things like you an in-house receptionist.
- Customer Research - Yes, a virtual receptionist could take calls and enter data as part of a customer survey, or could maybe give you a description of the types of people who call looking for the products and services that you offer. However, a virtual receptionist won't conduct a Google search on the last person who called, seeing if he or she is a business owner or if he or she has a huge Twitter following. He or she will also not research potential customers i.e. crawl directories for information to cold call or to send an email, or find good events for you to attend.
- Make Outgoing Calls - No, your virtual receptionist will not do your cold calling. They also won't cancel or confirm an appointment for you, or call the dry cleaners to see if your clothes are ready. A virtual receptionist is not an executive assistant. This person isn't here to help with your errands so you can spend time on the business instead of waiting in line. Yes, a virtual receptionist helps you focus on your core business, but this person makes your life easier in a very different way.
- File Papers Etc. - Understand that this person if virtual, so this person can't and won't do anything that requires them to be in the office with you. Like filing papers, or faxing something, or making copies.
- Be Mean on the Phone - Okay, so that one telemarketer from that one company won't stop calling until he/she speaks with the decision maker (you). Even so, you can't tell the virtual receptionist to be rude to the company unless they get the hint to stop calling. No, the virtual receptionist won't threaten legal action to a customer who hasn't paid in a few months. Those things either ought to be handled by you personally, or ought to be handled politely anyway.
Essentially, a virtual receptionist and an answering service are there to take calls, be the voice of your company. Getting the service is a good decision if you are getting too many calls per day, or the calls that you are getting are taking away from your core business. A virtual receptionist and an answering service aren't to be considered a cheaper version of a secretary. Although those exists, that's not what we provide and that should not be expected from our virtual receptionists and answering services.