The Virtual Receptionist
In its simplest definition, a Virtual Receptionist is the person who answers your calls. From the outset, it may seem like the scope of work of a Virtual Receptionist is limited to phone handling. In truth, effective communication is an overlooked quality in business.
When Every Call can be an Opportunity
Every incoming or outgoing call could have relevance to the fortunes of the company. Communication is the vehicle through which opportunities come to fruition. Companies limit the amount of time a person is kept on the phone because each incoming call could have the potential of being the most important call in the history of the company.
A Virtual Receptionist or VR can do more than just answer calls. Historically, VR’s were tasked to perform basic secretarial functions. When not receiving phone calls, a VR can prepare letters, organize work schedules or set appointments. A VR can also provide personal assistant services such as make dinner reservations, travel arrangements or check on the availability of the Chief Executive Officer’s dry cleaning.
A VR, as the term connotes, works in the virtual world. He or she is a person who is contracted to do a specified scope of work from a remote location. A VR is for all intents and purposes, is a freelance agent or a person who non-exclusively provides his or her services to clients. A VR can work for a multitude of clients not just your company unless otherwise specified in his or her contract. Still, the freelance descriptor implies that the VR is an independent contractor.
But why do businesses hire VR’s instead of a regular office worker who can do these same tasks?
Advantages of hiring a Virtual Receptionist for your business
- Cost Advantages– As an independent contractor, a VR is paid based on an agreed-upon hourly rate. The total cost of hiring a VR is calculated as the hourly rate multiplied by the amount of productive hours. A regular office worker’s total compensation covers basic salary, government mandated benefits and company benefits. An office receptionist starts out at AUD$19 per hour. One you add in benefits, the total cost of an office receptionist will approximate AUD$29 to AUD$38 per hour. By comparison, a VR will only cost AUD$7 per hour. Hence, the comparative advantage of hiring a VR over an office-based receptionist can be calculated at cost savings of 82%.
- Flexibility– As a denizen of the virtual world, a VR is a mobile worker and not confined by four walls or by time-keeping policies. An advantage of hiring virtual employees is you can be creative with work force management and design schedules that cover your business beyond its normal operating hours. If your business in engaged in international trade with clients from other countries, you can set up a virtual team of receptionists who can answer calls covering a window of 12 to 24 hours. You can recruit talented and multi-skilled virtual receptionists from the Philippines and India who can provide services during your after-office hours.
- Improved quality of work – Yes, phone handling is a learned skill. How many times have we experienced phone receptionists who fail to accurately note down important information and forward valuable messages? Every piece of information could be vital to the enterprise. Securing accurate details are an absolute necessity. How about office receptionists who clumsily handle phone inquiries from interested parties? These missteps can be significant in the business’ efforts to generate revenue. A VR has greater experience and can assure better performance because this is what he or she has specialized in. The skill set and work maturity levels are at higher competencies than a regular office worker. Another factor that contributes to the higher productivity of a VR can be traced to the second advantage, “Flexibility”. A VR can be assigned only four-hour work shifts and can sustain a higher level of focus longer than an office-based receptionist who needs to put in an entire eight hours of work per day.
In truth, there is no “non-essential” work in business. A simple call could spell the difference between earning a profit or realizing a loss. The true value of a VR is in ensuring all these aspects of business are covered.