https://go4customer.co.uk/callcentreOn a fundamental basis, answering services and virtual receptionists aren't that dissimilar, despite having their own nomenclature. They used to be completely different, but as businesses have grown, they've begun to provide a wider range of services, blurring the distinction. These two services appear to be identical on the surface. There is, however, a crucial distinction between the two, which you must understand before proceeding. The simple guide that follows will help you understand everything. If the call cannot be transferred, a message about the call is taken and forwarded to the appropriate person or department, exactly as a receptionist would.
The distinctions between these services may influence your decision to go with one supplier over another. If you're not sure which form of support your company needs, this article explains the similarities and differences between answering services and virtual receptionists, as well as how to select the best option.
What is the definition of an answering service?
The majority of Telephone Answering Service concentrate on just a few regions. Answering phones, taking messages, customer service, order input, and voicemail services are all examples of these services.
An answering service is designed to help you manage your phone calls more efficiently, especially if you're a large organization with calls coming in from different time zones, nations, or just at all hours of the day. If you have a 24-hour business, a huge company, or a significant number of calls on a regular basis, an answering service may be your best hire.
Finally, whether during regular business hours or just when you're busy, an answering service answers calls and delivers messages. Regardless of your sector or size, you'll almost certainly have a customer who needs help or has questions after hours or while you're unavailable - the key to determining whether or not answering services are ideal for you is the amount of times this happens.
An answering system's technology has advanced significantly as well. Although it isn't perfect, you may give the "tree" additional options and personalization. The phone system may be enhanced in a number of ways, including providing many menu selections and the ability to rapidly locate the information or department that someone is calling for. It's impossible to dispute that being trapped on the phone, punching buttons, and speaking to a "machine" may be aggravating, so making the process short and simple is essential. Call Containment, Average Handling Time, and First Call Resolution are just a few of the metrics to consider while developing a successful IVR (interactive voice response) system. When compared to virtual receptionists, automated systems suffer with "First Call Resolution."
The sole significant advantage of an automated phone answering service over a virtual receptionist is the ability to manage a bigger volume of calls at a reduced cost. The expenses of maintaining the system aren't prohibitively expensive once it's in place. As a result, the automated service may be able to handle a large number of incoming calls. Even if you use an automated attendant, keep in mind that there will still be a lot of labour to complete. You'll have to follow up on calls, and it's difficult to tell how happy people are with the automated system.
What is the definition of a virtual receptionist?
A virtual receptionist goes above and beyond the services offered by answering services. A virtual receptionist is a devoted receptionist who is familiar with your brand, organisation, and clients. Virtual receptionists originally gained popularity as a solution to contact centres' and answering services' lack of training and specialised personnel. Even while technology has enabled answering services to deliver a more experienced and trained voice to the business, it still falls short for many technical or complicated industries since they are mostly following a script that you provide.
Typically, answering services are call centres or a location with people who know a little about your business – which is fine if you just need someone to answer the phone and give out your email, hours, or basic information, but not so much if callers have product questions, pricing questionnaires, or identifying problems.
- To begin with, a nice and courteous human's personal touch may make all the difference. Finally, no matter how kind and courteous the automated messages are, you can't substitute that human touch with an automatic response system, such as calling a client by name and asking how their day was. Have you ever dialled a phone number only to be met with a voicemail? People may find this annoying because the phone is effectively answered by a robot.
- Another benefit of using a virtual receptionist is that getting to the information that the customer requires is generally much faster. They can immediately request assistance with a particular customer service issue. You can be confident that the call will be answered by skilled personnel if you use a reputable live receptionist service. You may write scripts with confidence, knowing that your query will be answered correctly. It's easy to become stuck on a dead end or not provide your consumers the answers they want when using an automated response service. Many large corporations utilise automated services, such as chatbots on their websites, but if you've ever used one, you know they're not always dependable, even with advanced AI technology.
- In addition, a virtual assistant is significantly more prepared to handle crises. If you work in a field that is even vaguely related to medicine, you may find yourself dealing with people who want immediate care.
What are the similarities and differences between answering services and virtual receptionists?
Answering services and virtual receptionists provide many of the same types of services, regardless of the type of service you pick. Your prospects' or customers' calls will be answered on your behalf by an offsite representative. You can also use these services solely when you can't accept calls, such as at night, on weekends, during the holidays, or when you're overworked.
Your agents can execute simple tasks and pass or transfer calls to you or other team members depending on the nature of the call. You design the right procedure for how they handle those calls. Of course, a knowledgeable partner would suggest best practices for streamlining your call procedure. Finally, the agents that answer your calls are qualified experts. Nonetheless, there will always be distinctions between services.
What is the difference between answering services and virtual receptionists?
As you can see, AS and VR have a lot in common. Their distinctions are more of a continuum than black and white. However, the help that answering services give tends to cease at the point where we've previously discussed. Virtual receptionists tend to do a lot more than just answer the phone and connect you with callers. Virtual receptionists can do many of the same tasks as an in-office receptionist. They can assist you with the following "outbound" tasks:
- Reminders and scheduling
- Taking orders from customers
- Support from the Help Desk and, in some situations, Tier 1 technical help
- Support for firms in certain industries, such as medical, IT, and mechanical
Virtual receptionists, by necessity, are more attached to your company than answering service providers. Their job necessitates a great deal more engagement with your employees. This growth of virtual reception was not unintentional. As businesses sought a greater degree of support at the least cost , call centres& other analogous suppliers expanded their offerings.
Difference #1 outbound vs inbound calls.
As previously said, one of the most significant distinctions between answering services and virtual receptionists is their ability to make phone calls. If you need someone to answer your phones but don't require outgoing calls, an answering service can be a better option.
A virtual receptionist is generally more along the lines of what you need if you need appointment confirmation, appointment scheduling, emergency dispatch, event registration, surveys, or other call centre services that include outbound calls.
Difference #2 Business Size (Large versus Small)
If you establish a firm, you should examine a variety of startup tools, but answering services is greatest alternative you. Since you might only need help off hours, or during busy periods, seasons specific to industry, answering services allow flexibility. A really large company, on the other hand, can profit from answering services on a regular basis. They frequently have greater call volume, which necessitates the use of more workers, sometimes more than the organisation can afford. The industry may also require outbound call centre, such as virtual receptionists. Businesses normally require only one service (with a few exceptions), but large businesses often require both inbound and outbound assistance.
Difference #3 Support: Detailed vs. Broad
The amount of information is the last distinction to make between answering services and virtual receptionists. You may provide an answering service with a script to follow with their calls, which might be long or short. In addition, certain information on your website may be helpful for some customer concerns and support. The primary responsibility of answering services, on the other hand, is to react to questions that the script answers. Your virtual receptionist can still follow a script if requested and given. It can also answer queries and provide help based on their industry experience and training.
What Should You Do If You Can't Decide Which Service Is Best For You?
When business owners or managers think of phone assistance, they frequently solely contemplate the necessity for answering services. However, when they perform additional investigation, they discover new sources of assistance that they were previously unaware of. Ask yourself, "What does my business need?" before hiring a partner. "What can I do to make my company's operations run more smoothly?"
When prospects and clients call, you may merely need someone who is kind, polite, and professional to answer the phone. However, you may require a partner who can act as a support staff and provide an additional degree of service. Many partners can tailor your programme to match your needs if you don't require every formalisation by a virtual receptionist.
How to Pick the Best Partner
After you've decided on the type of partner you'd want to collaborate with (as well as the features you want). You'll now have to decide which supplier is best for your team and company.
Knowing what service you're getting and what type of help you can expect from your partner based on info above. If you're unhappy with service level you're getting, it's conceivable that your expectations don't match what your provider offers.