Business owners wear many different hats when it comes to running a company, losing the one currency they can never get back: time. Time is precious and time is money. Virtual receptionists working on behalf of small businesses are taking the US by storm. Business owners simply don’t have the time to keep shouldering each and every responsibility that comes their way. Whilst it’s tempting to take ownership of every task that comes your way, it can come with a price. Answering calls and dealing directly with clients may be something you’re reluctant to give up (after all it’s the lifeblood of your business) but in reality taking these responsibilities whilst ignoring other tasks can lead to lasting repercussions down the line. For every responsibility that you bear, you run the risk of casting aside equally (if not more important) tasks. This can leave your business haemorrhaging both opportunities and money. If you’re struggling with call volume or simply just don’t have enough time to complete what’s important, it’s likely you’re looking for a virtual receptionist for your small business.

Many small businesses turn to virtual receptionist services to streamline customer service capabilities, answer calls 24/7 and to maintain connections with leads & clients. The process can be difficult and the extent of choices bewildering to say the least. But fear not, we’ve created this extensive guide to help you get to grips with how you can help your business get to grips with the virtual receptionist landscape and understand how to choose the best option for your business.

In this blog we’ll discuss why your small business needs a virtual receptionist and help you decide how to choose one that’s the right fit for you.

We’ll talk about:

  • Why your business should use a virtual receptionist
  • How your business should choose a virtual receptionist
  • Suitability for entrepreneurs
  • The cost of a virtual receptionist

” Choosing the right answering service can be the most impactful decision that any small business makes in 2024. It’s an incredibly important job and one that requires consistent professionalism, knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service skills.”
Robert Phillips – Head of Customer Success, AnswerConnect
virtual receptionist making notes on a computer

Are virtual receptionists worth it?

Virtual receptionists are certainly worth the investment for small businesses that want to offer premium customer service capabilities at a fraction of the cost. The long-term benefits of employing a virtual receptionist service are likely to make up for any implementation or subscription costs. “It’s a case of thinking about the bigger picture. You can run the risk of losing clients on a daily basis by neglecting calls or providing inadequate customer care. Invest in a service that can help you capture leads and actively prevents you from losing money. While making an impact now is important, you need to think about the future in order to support the longevity of your business.” said Robert Phillips, Head of Customer Success at AnswerConnect.

Integrating virtual receptionists into small businesses brings a host of advantages that can collectively improve overall business operations. Digital receptionists are akin to the friendly face of your business, professionally handling calls and leaving a lasting positive impression on clients.

The cost-effectiveness of virtual receptionists for small business is an exceptionally attractive prospect for small businesses. They offer the opportunity for businesses to provide a professional touch without straining limited budgets. Their adaptability to handle increasingly large call volumes help sustain seamless operations.

The 24/7 availability of virtual receptionists is a significant factor for customer satisfaction, providing prompt assistance and making clients feel valued 24/7. Moreover, the flexibility of these digital assistants to work remotely aligns seamlessly with the evolving nature of business practices, ensuring consistent and reliable support regardless of physical location.

Further Reading 📚 : The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Hiring A Virtual Receptionist

Choosing the best virtual receptionist for your small business

We’ll get straight to it. You need to implement a virtual receptionist but perhaps you’re not sure on what ‘good’ looks like. Here are 5 criteria that you should consider when choosing a virtual receptionist service for your small business.

virtual receptionist service agent answering a phone call

1. Can they provide round-the-clock support?

Some receptionists will work to predetermined business hours – this is ideal if your clients are ringing during very specific periods throughout the day but the likelihood is that they’re not.

Today, communication is omnidirectional and not as constrained by the restraints of time as it once was. When you finish work, it’s likely that potential clients will be finishing work too. If their preferred time to contact you is when you clock out, you’ve already encountered your first roadblock.

Whether it’s a live chat or even after-hours answering service expectations, consumers are readily expecting a higher level of customer service year on year. According to Forbes (2023) 95% of consumers say that good customer service directly impacts customer retention. When revenue is tied so intrinsically to customer service, it’s incredibly important that businesses can get it right.

In a 24/7 world, customers expect a response when they have a problem, not just when you’re available. With a 24/7 virtual receptionist service, your customers receive round-the-clock support, even when your business is closed.

How to check:

  • Website Review for 24/7 Availability
  • Testimonials for After-Hours responsiveness
  • Contact Information & support beyond business hours
  • Direct inquiry on support hours and emergency response
  • SLA review for documented commitment
  • Test calls during non-business hours
  • Infrastructure reliability & redundancy measures

2. Are they able to offer human interaction?

Virtual doesn’t mean non-human. In today’s world AI is a growing influence on almost every avenue of technology. This now includes answering services. Capable of providing basic information and regurgitating simple scripts, AI has been adopted by some as a cheaper alternative to real-life human answering services.

However, in a recent report ‘Blurring the Line Between Human and Machine: Marketing Artificial Intelligence’ (Castelo 2019) it’s discussed in detail that consumers still have a preference for talking to real customer service representatives over their machine counterparts.

This all boils down to consumers’ inability to apply anthropomorphic traits to AI services. Basically, if we can’t understand a service as providing empathy, context or understanding to the problem or enquiry that we have (human characteristics), we’ll be less likely to trust it and instead rally towards human interaction.

Did you know, 80% of callers will hang up when they reach voicemail? Let’s be honest, nobody enjoys talking to a machine. In an increasingly automated world, the freedom to interact with a real person can’t be overstated. For a small business, providing on-brand, people-powered service is essential.

How to check:

  • Engage with businesses through online channels
  • Inquire directly about the staffing model
  • Check online reviews
  • Ask directly about AI integration

3. Can they grow with your business?

Having a virtual receptionist that grows with your business is a game-changer. Imagine it as having a savvy teammate that flexes with your company’s growth. Businesses, with all their twists and turns in call volumes and services, need receptionist services that can scale effortlessly. This means handling increased calls without sacrificing efficiency or customer satisfaction.

As your company expands, your virtual receptionist should be able to retain the same standards, regardless of call volume or client intake. It’s not just about operations; it’s about projecting a professional image and keeping your customers delighted. This adaptability is the linchpin for smooth operations, paving the way for prolonged success, no matter how big your grow.

How to check:

  • Review scalability claims
  • Inquire about call handling capacity
  • Ask about flexibility in services
  • Check for customization options
  • Request case studies or client testimonials
  • Inquire about performance during growth phases
  • Evaluate technological infrastructure
  • Check for contractual flexibility

4. Can they offer professional service?

Handling queries from leads and customers is an essential part of business, but it’s not the only part. You still need to focus on providing quality service. With a team of virtual receptionists fielding your calls, you can focus on the core of your business. You no longer need to focus on scheduling appointments, taking messages and other administrative tasks. That means more time to give existing clients the attention they need. For smaller companies, that means you can dedicate more time (and resources) to drive leads to your business.

Picking the right professional service is a big deal for a few reasons. Firstly, it makes customers and clients feel confident, giving the business a positive start. The professionalism of a service affects how people see the overall business, influencing trust and credibility. Plus, a professional service is good at getting things done smoothly for both the business and its customers. They handle tasks well, communicate effectively, solve problems, and make sure everyone’s happy.

Additionally, a professional service knows how important it is to be reliable, consistent, and follow industry standards, all of which contribute to the business’s long-term success and reputation. So, choosing a professional service isn’t just about finishing tasks; it’s an investment in the business’s good reputation, trustworthiness, and doing exceptional work.

How to check:

  • Check reviews and testimonials
  • Evaluate communication style
  • Ask for sound references
  • Review service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Inquire about staff training
  • Assess response time
  • Check industry certifications

5. Can they provide a personalized service?

77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. The customer of today expects a service tailored to their needs. Return customers don’t want to go through the rigmarole of submitting the same information time after time. 

Your virtual receptionists can assign key details to customer profiles and greet return callers with customized responses. We help you to develop custom scripts for new campaigns. That helps you maintain brand consistency without incurring the cost of a full-time receptionist team. And that means more time to capitalize on the opportunities captured by your receptionists.

How to check

  • Inquire about customer profile management
  • Check for customized call greetings
  • Discuss script development
  • Understand cost-efficiency measures
  • Explore time optimization strategies
Business owner taking notes whilst conducting research

The cost of virtual receptionists

Virtual receptionists for small businesses or entrepreneurs can offer significant pricing benefits. The integration of these services can prove a cost-effective solution when it comes to improving professionalism, managing call flows and creating a positive customer experience. The affordability and scalability of these services make them especially appealing for smaller enterprises with limited resources. Small businesses often benefit from basic features such as personalized greetings, call forwarding, and voicemail, which help create a polished and organized image.

Offering budget-friendly monthly plans, virtual receptionists services like AnswerConnect offer flexible month-to-month contracts that allow small businesses to adapt their customer service strategies without long-term commitments. As small businesses explore digital receptionist services, understanding the nuanced cost considerations becomes pivotal in making strategic choices that align with their operational scale and objectives.

For small businesses looking into digital receptionists, it’s crucial to grasp the costs involved. Knowing these details well helps in making smart decisions that match the size and goals of the business.

Please note any monetary examples below are simply for the demonstration of the aforementioned point and aren’t based on any specific plans.

FactorConsiderationVariation Examples
Features and CustomizationVaried features and customizations Basic: Standard call routing, basic greetings

Advanced: Customizable IVR menus, speech recognition, caller ID-based routing
Pricing ModelsFlat monthly fee vs. usage-based pricing (per-minute or per-call charges)Monthly plans: $50/month for 500 minutes

Pay-as-you-go: $0.10 per minute, no fixed monthly fee
Usage VolumeImpact of the number of calls or interactions on costsTiered pricing: $50/month for up to 500 calls, $0.15 per additional call
Integration with Other SystemsAdditional costs for integration with CRM systems, workflow applications, etc.CRM integration: $20/month additional charge

Zapier integration: $0.05 per transaction
Contract LengthDiscounts for longer commitments vs. month-to-month pricing1-year contract: 10% discount on monthly fee

Month-to-month: Flexibility with no long-term commitment
Add-Ons and Extra FeaturesAdditional costs for features like voicemail transcription, call recording, analytics, etc.Voicemail transcription: Extra $5/month

Call analytics package: Extra $15/month
ScalabilityAbility of the solution to scale with business growth without significant cost increasesScalable plans: Upgrade from Basic to Pro for an additional $20/month
Setup FeesAny one-time fees associated with setting up the digital receptionist serviceInitial setup fee: $50 one-time charge

Activation fee: Waived for annual contracts
Training and OnboardingAvailability of training resources and onboarding supportOnline tutorials and documentation provided free of charge

Dedicated onboarding assistance available for $100
Contract Termination FeesFees associated with terminating the service before the end of the contract periodEarly termination fee: 20% of remaining contract value

No cancellation charges: month-to-month plans

Curious about how the US number one virtual receptionist service can work alongside your budget? At AnswerConnect our pricing plans are made to accommodate businesses across any industry or size. We offer flexible contracts that can be upgraded or downgraded at any time.

Do Your Research

Before committing to any service or solution, small enterprises should conduct thorough research. Investigating factors such as pricing models, available features, scalability options, and customer support can prevent potential challenges down the road. Reading customer reviews on answering service capabilities, seeking recommendations, and even testing trial versions can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your chosen solution. Taking the time to do comprehensive research needed will help equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about taking the next step.

Review checklist

  • Pricing Models
  • Scalability potential
  • Customer support
  • Read reviews & testimonials


Running a small business means juggling many tasks, but time is something you can’t get back. While it might feel right to handle everything, like answering calls, it can end up costing you more than you think. You risk missing out on important opportunities that can help your business grow.

For small business owners, getting a virtual receptionist can save time and help manage tasks effectively. While it’s tempting to do everything yourself, a virtual receptionist can handle calls, provide 24/7 support, and keep things professional without breaking the bank. When choosing the best virtual receptionist for your small business research is key, considering factors like constant support, human interaction, scalability, professionalism, and personalized service. It’s an intelligent investment for your business, likely offering a good return by improving customer service and making daily tasks more efficient. So, when deciding, think not just about now, but how it can benefit your business in the future.

If you want to learn more about how a virtual receptionist service like AnswerConnect can streamline your business and take your customer service to the next level, find out more today.