Introducing a virtual receptionist service is an important step to avoiding missed calls and capturing more leads.

But to ensure the rollout process goes smoothly, you’ll need to consult with every department in your company.

Smiling woman at her laptop

Don’t have a team? That’s OK. Even if you’re a small team (or even just a lone entrepreneur), you’ll find plenty of useful tips to help you prepare for your virtual receptionist service.

This article will cover several useful areas, including:

  • Preparing departments for your virtual receptionist service
  • Figuring out how, when and where to send calls
  • Integrating your virtual receptionist service with your current tools
  • Adding additional features to make the most of your service
  • How to choose the virtual receptionist service

But to begin, we have to understand what a virtual receptionist service is and how the service works.

What is a virtual receptionist service?

A virtual receptionist service is a B2B service in which a third party provides virtual support to your customers via phone calls, live chat or email. Virtual receptionist services act as “an extension of your business,” answering calls and messages. They then relay messages or directly transfer calls to people within your business. 

To ensure your business is covered around the clock, these services require a large team of people. Virtual receptionists are based outside of your office and often work from their respective home offices.

1. Involve key stakeholders

As with any business decision, you need to get the right people in your business involved. Education and transparency will be key to a seamless transition. 

So who do you need to involve in discussions? Start with the heads of each department, including

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Client services 
  • IT

But it’s not enough to just make all these people aware of the coming transition. The more involved they are in the process, the less likely it is you’ll encounter pushback or confusion later.

A team with their hands overlapped in a circle

So what do you need to discuss with your team? Besides the why (to stop missing calls, capture more leads, and increase customer satisfaction), you also need to explore the how, when and where. And that starts with…

2. Understand your telephony system

This will also help you set up and optimize your forwarding process. Call forwarding is a vital part of your service. While your receptionists can always take a message and pass it to your team, you may also want them to transfer calls to specific colleagues during office hours.

‘Call transfer’ covers several sub-services, including Call Forwarding, Live Relay, Call Routing and Call Diversion.

  • Call Forwarding – A set of rules implemented by your answering service to forward your calls to your receptionists at specific times.
  • Call Routing – A form of call forwarding with multiple options to transfer calls to different departments or even specific members of your team.
  • Live Relay – A feature that allows your virtual receptionists to make up to five call-outs to different people in your team in an attempt to reach someone.
  • Call Diversion – An automated process in which calls are automatically redirected to a different number at specific times.

These different transfer rules will impact how we handle your calls and are based on several factors, including your call elevation rules and legal requirements.

3. Consider your integrations

You probably already use integrations in your business every day, and you might not even realize it. How many, and to what extent you use them, depends on how big your company is and the different software you use to manage your business.

But for the most part, it will cover the tools your virtual receptionists will have to integrate with in order to act as an extension of your business.

The following might not apply to you, but it’s worth learning about them anyway.

  • Sales –  Your CRM and appointment booking software
  • Marketing – Your PPC and organic and paid social channels
  • IT – Everything from your email system to your security system

The most important of these is your sales. Your sales team and virtual receptionists should work seamlessly, with your receptionists funnelling the latest leads directly to your sales team. That includes your appointment scheduling. Most virtual receptionist services offer their own scheduling tools but also integrate with common calendars like Calendly, Google Calendar or Microsoft 365.

CRM integrations

Of course, the most important integration for sales will be with your CRM. Check that the virtual receptionist service integrates with your preferred CRM and, of course, talk with your sales team.

Even after reaching a consensus with your sales team, it’s worth taking a holistic view of your entire software infrastructure. Consider how each aspect of your system will be affected by the introduction of a third party. Ultimately, you want your virtual receptionist service to feel like an extension of your team – and that means providing seamless access across systems.

4. Set up live chat on your website

Your virtual receptionist service can cover more than just your phone lines. 

Adding live chat to your website opens up a whole new channel for leads. Not only can you capture leads who would otherwise slip through the net, but you can also give existing customers an additional line for support.

Work with your IT team/developers to add the code to the backend of the website, or download the WordPress or Joomla integrations, depending on your platform. Once you’ve completed the integration, your virtual receptionists can answer chats through your website, just like they do through your phone.

A woman working on her laptop

Your IT team isn’t the only one who needs to be involved in utilizing live chat. As most of the leads you’ll find here are fairly warm (ie they know who you are and are interested in your product/service), your sales team will want to be kept in the loop. And with the information gathered by your virtual receptionists, your sales team can engage leads with personalized offerings.

But what if you don’t have a website? Many virtual receptionist services now allow you to set up live chat through your Facebook account. This way, your receptionists can reply to messages through your Facebook Messenger.

5. Set targets and be ready to adjust

Just like every aspect of your business, you need to measure the success of your virtual receptionist service. That means setting goals and measuring key metrics throughout the journey. There are a number of things you can measure internally. For instance:

  • Number of missed calls
  • Number of sales
  • Average customer value

But that’s not all. You can also measure your customer satisfaction ratings through external review websites like Google My Business and Trustpilot. 

Building blocks pointing to a bullseye shot

The important thing is to realize that your service can always be adjusted in line with your requirements. Preparing your team to provide feedback on every aspect of the service will allow you to develop a cycle of testing, feedback and improvement.

Above all, it’s up to you to ensure your business is ready for a virtual receptionist service. It’s only by doing so that you can make the most of all the new business it will bring.

Want to learn more about how a virtual receptionist service could help your business? Book a call with our team and we’ll work with you to find the best solution for your business goals.