A professional ‘front of house’ can benefit any business, of any size, in any industry.
It can take the pressure of answering every inbound call to your business off the shoulders of you and your team, so you can focus on value-adding tasks and serving customers without dealing with sales calls.
And it ensures every customer’s first interaction with your company is professional, friendly and sets the right tone.
Traditionally, this front-of-house role would be done by a full-time office receptionist who answered calls and greeted visitors at the door.
But when more businesses are working remotely, or at least in a hybrid model, and many are now working from co-working spaces, does the traditional receptionist still have a place?
Or are you better suited to hiring a virtual receptionist instead? In this blog, we look at the key things to consider when comparing an office receptionist with a virtual receptionist.
What’s the cost difference?
From a pure money investment standpoint, there’s no contest between using a virtual receptionist over an office receptionist.
Hiring an office receptionist means paying a regular salary (which could be close to £30,000pa for an experienced receptionist) plus additional costs such as tax, national insurance and statutory sick pay.
And you’ll pay this regardless of whether your receptionist is answering 100 calls daily or 10.
If you hire a virtual receptionist, you usually buy a package of hours based on your requirements – so you’re only paying for the service you use.
Managing availability to answer calls
Hiring a receptionist for your business can be an excellent investment, and there’s undoubtedly a place for it.
But have you thought about what happens if your receptionist needs to deal with more than one customer at once?
This is a problem that’s often overlooked. Once your receptionist is on the phone, they can’t deal with another customer until they’ve hung up. So they can only deal with one call at a time.
And as you’ll know, calls don’t tend to come in one at a time in an orderly fashion. Most of the time, they’re like buses, coming two and three at a time.
This is where another benefit of hiring a virtual receptionist service comes in.
You get a team of call handlers who can cover for each other when one is already on the phone or has stepped away to get a drink or nip to the loo.
So you’ve always got phone cover with a virtual receptionist service, unlike hiring a single office receptionist.
Dealing with employee admin
Along with the costs of hiring an employee, they also come with a large amount of admin.
Whether it’s tax, insurance, appraisals, complaints and any other HR and legal responsibilities you’ll have, the admin of dealing with a receptionist can take up more time, which is the opposite of what they should be doing.
By investing in a virtual receptionist service, you’ll have service reviews (you’ll want to make sure the service is working for you, of course).
But these will be simple reviews, and you won’t have all the other admin to deal with, so you can focus on your business.
Which is easier to scale as your business grows?
The thing with hiring an employee is that the recruitment process can take a long time and cost a lot of money if recruiters get involved.
And that’s even assuming you find the right candidate first time.
Plus, you’ve then got more time invested in training your new employee.
When hiring an office receptionist, these are all things to consider and what will happen if they can’t deal with the number of calls and customer enquiries they need to deal with over time.
There’s no such worry about using a virtual receptionist.
That’s because if you require more call answering or admin support, you can increase your monthly subscription, and another experienced receptionist can instantly be added to your team.
You won’t have to worry about training anyone or going through a lengthy recruitment process.
What will you do about your after-hours customer service?
There’s a good chance many of your potential customers won’t be able to call you during the standard 9-5 work day.
They could be at work and need to wait until they get home. If you’re using an office receptionist, they’re limited to your business hours, so any customer calling after you’ve closed won’t be able to talk to anyone.
This could be a real problem if they have an issue or urgent question. A virtual receptionist can extend your business’ opening hours without needing more time commitment from you.
They can handle your out-of-hours calls, including weekend calls, and ensure you get messages instantly (or they can transfer urgent calls for you to deal with if that’s what you’d prefer)
What could your business do with better customer service?
Professionalising your front of house is guaranteed to improve customer service and help your business become more efficient.
The only question is whether you need a receptionist staffing a fixed desk, dealing with calls one at a time, or whether a more flexible, cost-effective and scalable virtual receptionist service would be more beneficial.
Getting started with a virtual receptionist is easy, and if it’s not for you, it’s a lot easier to stop using the service than it would be to part with your newly hired full-time employee.
12th December, 2022
Posted by Face For Business