The Skills Needed To Be A Virtual Receptionist
A good virtual receptionist can make all the difference to a small business or business owner, by reducing stress, saving time and offering a quality service to help transform your work life and take your business to the next level.
Particularly when they’re first starting out, lots of business owners assume that answering incoming calls is simply another part of their role, but over time many come to realise that it’s much more of a burden than they’d initially thought! Answering the phone to potential or existing customers politely, efficiently and effectively is so important to so many small businesses, but it’s something that can be really difficult to do well if you’re in the middle of other tasks or have a heavy workload that day, for example. It’s simply so difficult for small business owners to balance everything all at once!
A virtual receptionist gives you the ability to pass phone answering services off to an experienced professional, who will be able to answer and direct your calls with ease, friendliness and perfect professionalism! Having an excellent virtual receptionist on your side can genuinely transform your business and help you get on with the things you’re best at, and the work you’re passionate about. But what makes a great virtual receptionist? And how can you feel confident that you’re getting the most out of your call answering service? We’ve put together a list of a few qualities, among a wide range of skills, that we think are needed to be a virtual receptionist, so keep reading to find out more…
An excellent telephone manner
This is one of the most obvious skills that a virtual receptionist needs to have in order to offer an amazing level of customer service – being able to clearly and effectively communicate with others, understand their needs and be able to provide a solution that really works for them is one of the most important skills for a virtual receptionist service to promote. After all, that’s the vast majority of their job, so a polite, professional and competent telephone manner is the most important thing you can have as a virtual receptionist. Some skills and practices that make a great telephone manner can include:
- Making your caller feel comfortable and welcome as soon as you can. Be engaged in the conversation and make sure that you’re really taking on board everything the caller has to say – it really does make a world of difference!
- Smiling when you talk to people – even if you’re only talking on the phone, you can always hear a smile in someone’s voice, and this can help to relax nervous callers and provide a positive overall experience for your callers.
- Make sure you’re not distracted! Again, even though your caller can’t actually see what you’re doing, it’s easy to tell from someone’s voice and mannerisms if they are distracted, and it’s really easy for callers, including potential customers, to pick up on this. Taking your time and pressing pause on everything else when calls come through allows a virtual receptionist to provide a friendly, attentive service and puts on a positive face (or voice!).
- When answering the phone, start with a friendly greeting and always let the caller know who they’re talking to (at alldayPA, we always make sure to answer the phone the same way you would yourself to maintain consistency for your customers).
- Making sure you speak at the right pace and volume is also very important when it comes to providing a quality experience on the phone. Speaking too loudly, quietly, quickly or slowly can make it difficult to understand you which is frustrating for both you and your caller! Speaking in a calm tone that is easy to hear and understand will make all the difference to your callers, and will help all of your calls run much more smoothly.
- Making sure you know how to use your telephone infrastructure properly – if it’s just your own mobile phone, this isn’t too difficult, but if you require a more complex switchboard system, it can become a bit more complex. At alldayPA, we are always investing in our technology to make sure it’s the best that it can be. Our team are experts at working with our customers, and are also experienced in working with a variety of different internal CRM systems, including Salesforce, Zoho, Freshdesk, Sage and many more.
- Don’t leave your callers on hold or waiting for you to pick up for too long. Particularly if you don’t have a bespoke answering message or system, making sure you reach the phone within the first few rings will prevent your callers from becoming impatient or feeling like you’re not invested in their call. If you have a switchboard/holding system, make sure to check back in with the caller if their query is taking a bit longer, so they know you haven’t forgotten about their call and that you’re actively looking to get them an answer.
Communication and writing skills
Communication skills go further than just having a polite telephone manner (though of course, this is vitally important!) Communication skills also refer to your ability to quickly interpret and understand the needs of your customers or callers, and to be able to relay information accurately between parties – in the case of your virtual receptionist, that’ll be relaying messages to business owners from their callers. These messages need to be timely, clear, concise and comprehensive, giving you the best chance of success when it comes to calling your customers back. In order to make this happen, your virtual receptionist or PA needs to be able to ask the right questions and provide the right information to your customers.
A virtual receptionist also needs to be able to communicate through a variety of channels, not just on the phone. In today’s world, enquiries don’t always come through the phone, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Your virtual receptionist should be able to answer and manage enquiries from a variety of live chat providers, social media sources and email enquiries as well as phone calls. The way you communicate over live chat and social media is very important, and can be very different from the way you might communicate over the phone.
Live chat is very accessible to customers, and is becoming increasingly popular with companies as it is cheaper to run than a phone line, and allows receptionists and agents to manage multiple enquiries at the same time, speeding up the pace of a customer service department and ultimately improving the customer experience, as they spend less time waiting in queues or on hold, for example. However, it is much more difficult to get the all-important “personal touch” that customers appreciate over text, which is why having someone answering your client’s messages over live chat who has excellent communication skills is so important. A friendly, helpful manner is just as important over live chat, if not even more, than over the phone. Our PA’s are highly experienced in both their telephone manner and in helping to solve problems and answer queries over live chat, email and social media too.
Time management & organisational skills
Time management and organisation skills are important for so many different roles, but for a receptionist, call answering service or customer service rep, there is no getting around it! Being able to work quickly and efficiently, even when things are busy is a vital skill to have, in order to offer customers a seamless, quality experience.
Having a receptionist who is organised and can manage their workload effectively and independently means that you and your team will receive in a timely fashion. This helps business owners and team members prioritise their work appropriately, making your life easier and giving customers a positive overall experience.
Switchboarding also requires excellent organisational skills, and is a big part of a virtual receptionist’s work. Our PA’s are able to see at a moment’s glance which members of your team are available when a caller comes through our system, as well as the relevant person to direct different calls to, making the journey of every one of your callers as smooth as possible!
Of course, there are lots of other skills that make a good virtual receptionist, and at alldayPA, with over 20 years of experience in the sector, we’re very proud of our call answering team and the level of service we offer, as well as our unrivalled reputation as a friendly, close-knit and easy business to work with. To find out more, or to see whether a virtual receptionist, call answering service or outsourced call centre service might be right for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our business development team, who will be happy to help you!
How to choose a skilled Virtual Receptionist for your business
If you need help with your business communications of any kind, a virtual receptionist might be a great option for you. A virtual receptionist offers you telephone, social media and live chat support when you need it, but also allows you and your team to quickly and easily take over when you have the time and ability to do so. However, choosing the right virtual assistant services isn’t always easy. You need to be confident that your client correspondence will be carried out professionally and just as well as you would do it yourself, if not better! There are some things that you should always look for when hiring a virtual receptionist company, and a few things to avoid if you can too.
While you might not think that your industry needs 24-hour availability, there are far more sectors than you think that can benefit from extensive out of hours support. When you hire a 24/7 virtual receptionist or call answering service, you don’t have to worry about missing a call again, and it gives your customers peace of mind that there is always someone there who will be able to listen to their query, particularly in an emergency situation. The point of a virtual receptionist solution is to make life easier for you, project a professional image, and make life easier for your customers too, which is where a 24/7 service can come in handy. At alldayPA, we offer 24/7 service as standard, and your package price will be determined by your call volumes and hours calls, so you don’t need to worry about any additional hidden charges or extortionate fees.
When you choose a virtual receptionist service for your business, you need to be confident that their process for getting your messages to you is watertight! We’ve been working with small businesses and sole traders for more than 20 years, and have honed our processes over the years to deliver brilliant service and our reputation for excellence to our customers, meaning you never lose a message. Our technology also allows us to pass your messages over to you in real time, the moment your caller has hung up. These can be delivered to you by text, email, or the Virtual Office app (our online portal) – whichever works best for you. You can be certain that you’re getting smooth communication instead of causing hassles for your workers and wasting time chasing down critical communications when you have a professional virtual receptionist on your side. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering that a customer’s message was not delivered to the intended destination or that a call was directed to the incorrect individual, but it can also have a real financial impact on your organisation’s bottom line too.
When you choose a virtual secretary or PA, you may want them to be able to schedule appointments for your existing or new customers. However, you want to be sure that the company you’ve chosen to handle your business communications can seamlessly interface with your chosen scheduling tool. At alldayPA, we train every one of our call handlers to work expertly with a range of CRM, payment and scheduling tools, such as Worldpay, Paypal, Responsetap, Zendesk, Zoho, Google suite and many more.
Why choose a virtual receptionist over an in-house receptionist?
Many of the skills needed to be an in-house professional receptionist and a virtual receptionist are very similar – which one you choose for your business will be down to a wide variety of different factors, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Of course, for many small businesses where budgets are always tight, the key prohibiting factor when it comes to getting an in-house receptionist is cost. Hiring, paying the salary and benefits and professionally developing an in-house receptionist takes a considerable amount of time, effort and money, particularly if you don’t have a set HR role to help you out. Hiring a new receptionist, in particular, can be a lengthy process, which makes life really difficult if you need a new member of staff very quickly. With a virtual receptionist or professional telephone answering service, you simply sign up and can get started redirecting your customer service incredibly quickly.
It’s natural for professionals of all kinds to want to grow and progress in their career, and motivated individuals can be such a great asset to small businesses. Many receptionists will grow and take responsibility within their role for other aspects of the business, and may move on from the role of receptionist completely, to transition into operations or customer service management, for example. While this is brilliant for a business overall, and for individuals, it does mean that you’ll need to find a new receptionist in time. With a virtual receptionist, you’ve got a fixed service without the need to invest in professional development or rehiring in the future, and instead you can spend your time working with your existing team to make strategic hiring choices and provide professional development opportunities to your staff.
Interested in having a virtual receptionist? Here’s what to expect when working with alldayPA…
So, we’ve established that virtual receptionists need a pretty comprehensive skill set under their belt to fulfil their role to the highest standard. However, many assistants out there lack the skills, experience and knowledge that’s needed for the job. When you work with our alldayPA virtual receptionists, you can rest assured that your dedicated PA will go above and beyond for you and your business, using their skills and knowledge to do so!
What is a virtual receptionist?
Our Virtual Receptionist package is a step up from our Telephone Answering service, but it isn’t as comprehensive, and therefore expensive, as our Outsourced Call Centre package. It’s a great solution for businesses that want to free up some of their time by outsourcing everyday tasks, such as call handling and diary management.
Because they’re referred to as ‘virtual receptionists’ or ‘virtual assistants’, many people think that our online assistants are bots or automated answering machines that you have to deal with before you get through to a real person. This is certainly not the case here at alldayPA! All of our virtual receptionists are humans to ensure that your customers get a personalised service every time they call your company! Answering machines and robots might seem like the answer if you’re trying to cut costs, but it could drive business away in the long run. People appreciate human-to-human interaction, so that’s exactly what we give them.
What’s included in the Virtual Receptionist package?
Hiring an online receptionist is a great solution if you need some support with your daily tasks, but you don’t have the staff or the budget. Our service is a cost-effective way to get this support, without spending loads of money on an in-house receptionist. And whilst we might not be in-house, our PAs still have all the skills and experience you’d expect from a direct employee. Still don’t believe us? Just check out everything we include in our package…
- Our call handling services mean that we’ll take care of your calls around the clock! This also involves taking caller details as necessary and passing on messages or forwarding calls.
- Instant SMS and email notifications mean that you’re always aware of the interactions we’ve handled.
- Remote switchboard services offer transfer options, meaning that we can forward calls to the right person.
- Custom on-hold messages and personalised greetings give your customer that all-important, amazing first impression!
- Call triaging services allow us to help customers based on the urgency of their call.
- Diary management services help with your time management and organisation.
- Access to our Virtual Office app allows you to see important call data and information.
- Your PA will have the ability to use a range of software and applications that are integral to your business. Our PAs can use Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, Freshdesk and so much more, to help you with your administrative tasks and your customer service.
What to expect from us…
- A 24/7 service
That’s right – a 24/7 service, 365 days a year for no additional cost! All our packages are 24/7 as standard and there are no hidden fees for this part of the service.
- A UK-based team
Our four contact centres are spread across the UK – we never outsource our customer service abroad to save money or cut corners! All our PAs are based in the UK and work to the high standards that we set!
- Innovative technology
We’ve invested £15m into state-of-the-art call handling technology, to give customers the best experience when they call! This is spread across four different contact centres in different locations across the UK, to ensure business continuity in the event of a power outage.
- We’ll always put you first
Businesses can change quickly and so can their needs, which is why we’re always flexible and quick to adapt to these changing needs! We also have decades of experience in the industry and are full of wisdom about growing a successful business! As such, we’re generous with our knowledge and are passionate about your growth too!
Please get in touch to find out more about what we do, our range of service and to see if a skilled virtual receptionist is right for your business – we’d love to hear from you!