Receptionists are an integral part of any successful business. From handling phone calls through to operating a switchboard and dealing with administrative tasks, a receptionist can do it all. And their importance should never be underestimated. A receptionist, after all, is the first point of contact within your organization. This initial contact can make or break a customer’s experience, so it’s crucial that you have a world class receptionist fronting your business.
The traditional location for a receptionist has always been at a desk. But Pineapple Staffing wants to change this model. And we want to do this by taking advantage of 21st century technology. You’ll be pleased to learn that this doesn’t involve installing costly robots. Instead we’re opening up a job market which is much larger than you could have ever imagined.
As we’ve already said, receptionists tend to be sat at a desk in a foyer. But do they have to be sat there? Wouldn’t it be much more flexible if they could sit anywhere in the world and still perform to the same high standards? Of course it would. This is easier said than done, though, so how do you achieve it? The answer lies with a virtual receptionist.
You may not be familiar with the concept of a virtual receptionist, but it’s likely you’re intrigued by the prospect. Virtual assistants are on the rise and it’s important that you get with the program to remain competitive. We’re aware of this interest so we’ve put together the ultimate guide to hiring a virtual phone receptionist.
What Does a Receptionist Do?
A first impression is as important in business as in your personal life. And that’s one of the main roles fulfilled by a receptionist. Greeting customers correctly during that initial contact can make a real difference to the way your organization is perceived. It’s professional and it’s courteous. A bad experience at this point can seriously sour the customer relationship. So this is why you need a good receptionist. And a good receptionist is much more than just a meet and greet experience.
A receptionist’s role may look simple to a casual observer. But they’re as complex as any other job. And a wide range of duties await a receptionist:
- Handling and redirecting incoming calls and emails to the correct department
- Answering general enquiries relating to the business such as opening times
- Maintaining employee schedules and appointments e.g. company nurse visits
- Distributing internal communications such as company announcements and job vacancies
There are just over a million receptionists working in the US, so it’s a popular and necessary role. Not every company, however, has the resources to employ one. Pineapple Staffing can help you solve this financial dilemma. But first we need to understand the concept behind a virtual phone assistant.
What is a Virtual Phone Receptionist?
The world of virtual assistants has spread rapidly and is constantly evolving. This development has helped to foster a business landscape where any role can be taken care of remotely. And the flexibility this offers is mighty appealing. But can the role of a receptionist be transformed into a virtual position? Many people may, at first, feel that a receptionist has to be based on-site as the first point of contact. However, this is far from accurate.
The majority of business communication takes place over phone and through the more modern medium of email. This means that there’s no need to have a physical member of staff in the building to handle this workload. It makes much more sense for a receptionist to work remotely. Not only does it free up physical space in your business, but it provides flexibility for both employer and employee.
More importantly a virtual phone receptionist can do almost everything a regular receptionist can do. We say ‘almost’ for the simple fact that they can’t perform a quick coffee run, but business has always been about compromise. On a more serious note, a virtual receptionist is packed with a wide range of benefits that simply can’t be offered with an in-house receptionist. And they can perform this role from anywhere in the world. All they need is an internet connection to hook up to your system.
What are the Benefits of a Virtual Phone Receptionist?
Manning the phones with a virtual phone receptionist is an exciting prospect. In business, however, you always need to be able to prove the value in any decision. If there’s no pay off then it’s a waste of resources. So, does investing in a virtual receptionist come with a pay off? You’ll be pleased to know that the answer is a resounding yes. And there are multiple pay offs.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits on offer:
- Cost Effective: The average receptionist’s salary in the US is around $28,000, but with a virtual phone receptionist the expense is much lower. At Pineapple Staffing we charge just $8 per hour. And that’s with no contract fees and no setup fee. The math is pretty simple: this is much more affordable than a traditional receptionist. Don’t forget that an in-house employee’s costs doesn’t stop with their salary either. You also need to factor in equipment, training and 401k plans. These costs soon mount up, but with a virtual receptionist they don’t apply.
- Increased Productivity: As we’ve discussed, a receptionist is not cheap. As a result many businesses forgo a receptionist to save costs. Instead they leave the handling of incoming calls to the rest of their staff. While this ensures that calls are answered it’s not a productive approach. Redirecting calls and greeting customers is a fully dedicated job. Expecting your staff to share this responsibility will severely test their time and resources. And they won’t be able to focus on what they’re best at. The affordability of a virtual phone receptionist means there is a solution that keeps productivity high.
- Fantastic Customer Service: A virtual receptionist will always provide fantastic customer service. Combining a courteous and professional nature, virtual receptionists are fully trained to understand their employers and their customers. It’s important that receptionists understand their employers and their customers to help convey the brand ethos. A virtual phone receptionist will always strive to achieve this. Answering calls with your company name in a professional manner and understanding your staff structure is crucial. And, with a virtual receptionist, it’s a given.
- Flexibility: One of the biggest headaches with employing a receptionist has always been covering lunch breaks and vacation. Pulling staff out of other areas of the business can affect productivity. And temporary works are never cost effective. When you’re dealing with a virtual phone receptionist this is never an issue. A reliable virtual receptionist will always be available during working hours. If they’re not available for any amount of time, such as vacation, there is a whole pool of remote workers who are ready and willing to step in. This ensures continuity for answering your calls and comes at exactly the same rate.
- Enhanced Organization: Running a business is a complex task even during the quiet periods. And this complexity often leads to organizational issues arising. With a virtual phone receptionist on your team these problems are minimized. You have to remember that a virtual receptionist is capable of much more than answering calls. Arranging appointments, scheduling holidays into a rota and even placing stationary orders can all be delegated to a virtual receptionist. And you are guaranteed that these will be dealt with professionally.
- Space Saving: The most obvious difference between an in-house receptionist and a virtual receptionist is the physical space they take up. A traditional receptionist will need a desk and a specialist area set up to complete their duties. A virtual phone receptionist differs significantly in that they don’t take up any space in your building. Renting an office space is never cheap and you need to utilize ever single square foot you have. With the space freed up by a virtual receptionist you will discover that you have more room for stock, equipment or even a morale boosting snack machine.
- Tackle Admin Overflow: Your workforce’s administrative duties can soon mount up and vital tasks can quickly fall behind. This inevitably leads to poor performance and impacts your customer’s experience. This is where a virtual phone receptionist can step in. Fully trained in a wide range of administrative tasks, they can pick up the slack. This is the epitome of what a team is. And, with a virtual receptionist pitching in, the entire workforce can achieve what they need to and keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.
The Importance of VOIP for a Virtual Phone Receptionist
The digital age has brought many innovations to the business world and one of the most important is Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). In its simplest terms VOIP allows voice and multimedia sessions to be delivered over the internet. VOIP is a modern update to traditional telephone networks which simplifies their design while increasing their reach. It’s becoming more and more common in businesses, so it’s something that every organization should consider. And if you plan to hire a virtual phone receptionist you will need to integrate VOIP.
With a VOIP service in place, your virtual receptionist can connect to your internal phone network from anywhere in the world. They don’t need to be connected by any wires and they don’t need to subscribe. As long as they can connect to the internet then they can connect to your VOIP service. It’s a telecommunication solution that solves countless problems for remote workers.
This may sound counterintuitive, but VOIP’s massive popularity is actually a problem for businesses. There are so many VOIP service providers out there that it’s difficult to know which one to sign up with. Thankfully, you can make your decision a lot easier by focusing on these four providers:
- Ring Central: A perfect solution for any small business, Ring Central allows you to work with an all-in-one cloud phone. And the range of services on offer from Ring Central is phenomenal. A virtual phone receptionist working with Ring Central has a lot of potential to get their job done professionally. Not only does the cloud phone allow your basic call handling to be delivered with ease, but it also has video and text capabilities. These can be crucial for a remote worker to keep in touch with your team, so Ring Central should be considered a serious VOIP solution.
- Dialpad: You want your VOIP service to be powerful. And Dialpad is very powerful. Taking communications to a new level, Dialpad can connect your virtual receptionist with the rest of your team across all your existing devices. Voice, video and text messaging are three key methods of communication; Dialpad can handle all of these. With just a laptop or a smartphone you can use Dialpad to power professional communications. It’s perfect for any remote worker who wants to work to a high standard.
- Grasshopper: A highly sophisticated VOIP product, Grasshopper keeps your business looking and sounding professional. Grasshopper is an amazing solution for a virtual phone receptionist as the software can be installed on their personal smartphone. It effectively allows them to take their business phone anywhere in the world and perform their duties with ease. Grasshopper focuses on the core areas of communication – calls and business texts – so it’s a fantastic option for any business looking to get involved with VOIP.
- Google Voice: Everyone has heard of Google and Google Voice is almost as well known. A major player in the VOIP market, Google Voice is keen on innovation and providing seamless forms of communication. And the versatility of Google Voice means that it’s suitable for a business of any size. Call handling and forwarding are, naturally, major components of the software, but it also has room to transcribe voicemails and integrate with your calendar. It’s everything that a virtual phone receptionist could ever need.
Choosing which VOIP provider to go for is relatively simple once you know what your best options are. And, with the right solution in place, your virtual receptionist should fit seamlessly into your business. Finding the best virtual receptionist isn’t necessarily easily. Therefore, the next step to take is the hardest one. Hiring a virtual phone receptionist.
How Do You Hire the Best Virtual Phone Receptionist?
Filling any vacancy is tough. And filling it with a world class candidate is even tougher. Therefore, hiring the best virtual phone receptionist requires a lot of thought. The most critical element is defining the job.
No two businesses are the same and your needs will be very different to your competitors. Start by drawing up a list of duties that your receptionist will need to complete every day. This should give you a good idea of the core skills you’re looking for. And, once you’ve collated this information, it’s time to turn to Pineapple Staffing.
With a professional workforce based in the Philippines, Pineapple Staffing will be able to find a virtual receptionist who meets your needs. All of our virtual assistants go through a rigorous application and interview process to prove that they are determined and professional individuals. And we always make sure they’re qualified. We only work with virtual assistants who have achieved either a degree or certificate in business. Regardless of the software that your organization uses, our virtual receptionists will be able to get to grips with it immediately.
As well as taking care of the vetting process for your business, Pineapple Staffing delivers a remarkable staffing experience. A good receptionist is expensive, but a world class receptionist is highly expensive. At Pineapple staffing we’re dedicated to sourcing world class receptionists at a reasonable rate. And this is made possible by the remote worker model we embrace. It’s an approach which allows us to offer virtual receptionists at an amazing rate of just $8 per hour. We can align these virtual workers with your workflow in next to no time with no setup or contract fees.
Your business may not have a receptionist at the minute. But it should now be clear that you need one. Alternatively, you may have a receptionist in place, but are looking for a more modern, competitive approach to staffing. Either way the answer lies with a virtual phone receptionist. It may feel unusual to hire an employee who you are never going to meet, but this method of employment is becoming more and more common. And when you consider the benefits on offer it makes a lot of sense.
Your organization’s next receptionist doesn’t need to come from the same town, state or even country that you’re based in. Thanks to the internet making the world a smaller place you can now look further afield. This may sound logistically difficult, but Pineapple Staffing is here to take the pain out of this search. A highly professional organization, we will source a virtual phone receptionist who makes all the difference.