This article focuses on the receptionist services that virtual assistants provide. Virtual assistants are capable of doing a lot of other stuff, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll assume they’re primarily answering your phone.
I’ve had a few friends ask me whether I thought their home-based businesses would benefit from a virtual assistant or live answering service, so I thought it would be worthwhile to write a post that covers my rationale for saying yes or no.
A virtual assistant or answering service can provide the professional phone presence that some small businesses lack, giving them the customer service capabilities that are normally reserved for larger competitors. On the flip side, integrating a service like this into your operation could prove redundant or unnecessary, bogging you down with organizational problems that small businesses should be able to escape.
You have to remember that the goal is to improve your business, not to embarrass the business owner down the street who uses his cell phone as a business line and answers with “Jim speaking.” I know it’s tempting, but business decisions need to be made with business in mind.
Okay, so how to decide? I would say a virtual assistant is a good fit if:
1. You’re too busy to answer all of your calls, or if talking on the phone eats up a lot of your time
If you’re going through the same processes over and over again, such as scheduling appointments or gathering contact information, these are things that virtual assistants are perfect for. Having someone field your calls will free you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
2. You currently don’t provide a business telephone number or, if you do, all callers automatically reach voicemail
The web enables a lot of businesses to operate without ever talking on the phone, which is nice to an extent, but a lot of people still want to speak with the people they’re doing business with. Furthermore, having a business line and having a real person answer it speaks to the legitimacy of your operation. So if you haven’t set up a business line yet or avoid talking to everyone by sending them to voicemail, a virtual assistant can help you out.
3. If your competitors provide exceptionally good or exceptionally poor customer service experiences
If it’s impossible to reach your direct competitor by phone, having your line answered professionally every time will help you stand out. Conversely, if they have an awesome customer service team that’s available by phone 24-7, then you need to step your game up.
There are certainly other things that could be considered before deciding to go with a virtual receptionist, but these three items are a good starting point. If nothing applies, then you may not find a service beneficial. If you’re questioning whether or not the way you’re doing things is the best, then it may need further exploration.
Do you have something that needs added to this list? A good or bad experience with a virtual assistant? Please share.
About the Author:
Melanie Cartwell is part of CMS Call Center and Live Answering http://www.continentalmessage.com.