What is a virtual receptionist?
A virtual receptionist, or auto-attendant, is a common feature of many VoIP and IVR systems.
Not to be confused with a live virtual receptionist who answers calls and performs admin tasks remotely for a business, the virtual receptionist of internet-based phone systems is totally automated.
A typical example is the computerized voice that answers your call when you dial a business.
For many internet telephony providers, the virtual receptionist can be customized to perform a variety of helpful functions.
Chief among them is menu selection. The automated voice can prompt callers to choose between different options by pressing certain keys, or even speaking commands.
As a result, they’re routed to their preferred department or extension.
What can you use this feature for?
- Dial-by options
- Personalized greetings
- Customized scheduling
- Smart routing
Virtual receptionists can assist callers by offering them a couple different routing options. If they know their party’s extension, they can dial it directly.
The feature also lets businesses build a dial-by-name directory that links different employees to particular extensions. Callers just have to dial the letters of the name.
However, many services allow you to keep people’s extensions private as well.
Virtual Receptionists greet every caller with a welcoming message.
However, in many cases, you can set up a personalized greeting for your business. Rather than hearing a generic – albeit friendly – greeting, callers will be welcomed with a message that’s specific to your company and their needs.
You may want to deliver a different greeting to customers who call after hours, on weekends, or holidays. Many Virtual Receptionists can be configured to offer alternate options depending on the time of day.
For example, you can send callers to a general voicemail box instead of individual extensions, or offer an emergency contact number.
Depending on your preferences, you can provide multiple options for callers, routing them to different directories, locations, and even employees’ cell phones.
What is the size of your business?
- Improved customer service
Many IP phone systems are cloud-based, which means you can dramatically reduce the costs of hosting and maintaining expensive telecom hardware.
The same idea applies to Virtual Assistant.
Although the feature can be configured to route incoming calls to live operators with certain providers, it eliminates the need for a receptionist.
As a result, you can re-direct employees’ time and effort to matters other than answering the phone.
Many callers want to know basic information about your business, such as street address, email, etc.
Additionally, greeting, interacting and directing callers consumes valuable time among your employees.
A simple, faster alternative is to offer these services through Virtual Assistant.
A live operator may not be able to keep up during periods of heavy call volume. As a solution, some providers also offer multiple assistants, which can handle simultaneous calls.
Rather than falling to voicemail, multiple calls can all be handled and appropriately directed, even during peak periods.
Improved customer service
In addition to meeting the needs of each individual caller, Virtual Assistant offers reporting services.
Businesses can monitor call activity, identify where there’s room for improvement, and make adjustments to the system accordingly.
Customers will enjoy a more efficient phone service as a result.
Which systems include the virtual receptionist feature?
Both VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and IVR (interactive voice response) providers typically offer Virtual Receptionist features as part of their plans. While the services share the same basic purpose, they differ in capabilities.
VoIP Virtual Receptionists meet all of your fundamental call-answering and routing needs. Meanwhile, IVR normally provides more enhanced features.
VirtualPBX offers complete business VoIP phone systems, meeting the demands of both fundamental and complex service needs.
Auto Attendant is included as part of its 2 main plans.
In addition to other features such as custom greetings and virtual fax, the Office and Anywhere plans come equipped with an automated phone-answering system, and range from $9.99 to $33.99.
For businesses with heavy call volumes, you can opt for the ACD Queue, which offers advanced answering and routing features.
Vonage’s Virtual Receptionist provides fast and efficient answering services. The automated recording starts as soon as a caller dials in, and quickly presents them with your preconfigured menu options.
Through its administrative portal, you can direct the system to try a live operator before going to the auto attendant, manage your dial-by options, establish special one-time event messaging, and more.
Virtual Receptionist is included in all of Vonage’s VoIP plans.
AT&T’s Virtual Receptionist feature is powered by RingCentral, and provides a professional call experience for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The feature can be added to your iPhone, and provides a toll-free number and an introductory automated greeting.
Additionally, you can set call-forwarding options for up to 3 other lines, and configure them to ring in a pre-set order or all at once, guaranteeing that you’ll never miss an important call.
For 60 minutes of service per month, the service is free. You can add more minutes starting at $14.99 per month .
In addition to providing callers with simple menu options, Callfire’s Virtual Receptionist can perform more sophisticated tasks as well.
The feature can notify customers of upcoming bills, offer pay-by-phone options, create unlimited extensions, and integrate into existing telecom technology.
Callfire offers pay-as-you-go plans as well as more enhanced offerings ranging up to $599 / month for 20,000 minutes of voice activity.
Halloo’s Virtual Receptionist offers unlimited IVR menus and sub-menus, projecting the appearance of a big business.
Meanwhile it can integrate with your existing phones, and allow you to add a customized greeting or upload an audio recording.
Halloo claims it has the highest reliability in the industry, and offers plans starting at $10 per month with no contracts.
Job Search Television Network was evolving.
The cutting-edge recruitment video company had adopted a wealth of digital tactics as part of its new business strategy.
As a result, the company needed a name – and an auto-attendant – that reflected this.
A full rebrand was in order. The business changed its name to the shorter and more effective, Digi-Me, and recruited Access Direct to integrate its auto-attendant with a superior voicemail system.
The company mapped out each extension as well as the location for each email notification. After some tweaking and refining, Digi-Me dramatically improved its call routing and messaging services.
For over 40 years, Amtico International has provided solutions for the world’s leading flooring brands.
To match customer service to its high-end, reputable services, Amtico contacted TeleWare, a world-renown Virtual Receptionist service, to provide them with an efficient auto-attendant system.
TeleWare analyzed call volumes for each of Amtico’s departments, and created a menu structure favoring the extensions receiving the most calls.
The result was improved customer service, as the new system allowed callers to reach their destinations as quickly as possible, without having to listen to the full menu of options.
Meanwhile, TeleWare’s management tools enabled Amtico employees to easily make changes to the system in-house.