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Virtual Receptionist vs. Answering Service Companies

Background of the Answering Service Companies for the Small Business Industry

Answering service companies came a long way from when they first started, back when switchboards were still in use in the 1970s. Back then, operators would write down your information on paper and then place it in the customer’s file. The customer would then have to call in and check if they received any messages, until the 1980s when pagers started to be mainstream. As small business owners began to get pagers or beepers, which allowed answering service companies to alert their clients that they had new messages and whether it is an emergency. Then with the introduction of cell phones in the 90s, telephone answering service companies were able to start patching or transferring calls immediately to their customers. Another significant advancement during this time was email, which allowed local answering services to send messages directly to their customers.

History of the Virtual Receptionist Companies

The virtual receptionist service is a spin-off of the answering service industry. In short, it’s an answering service for small businesses that is more advanced thanks to technology. Virtual Receptionists started with the ability to send emails to their customers and forwarding or patching calls to their customers. As technology developed more, it made the Virtual Receptionist service more accessible. Receptionists can send urgent messages through text messages and take into account privacy and regulations, such as HIPPA.

Great history lesson, but what can these answering service companies offer in 2020?

Local answering service companies typically will answer your phones 24/7 and to take a message and email you. Some other ones will offer to collect new lead or intake information. If you are lucky, a few answering services may even offer to text you any urgent messages. With a Virtual Receptionist Service, you are going to get the essential function of an answering service but much more. With technology today, there is no reason a Virtual Receptionist company cannot customize and offer you everything you need. For example, we can create a directory of your employees and route the calls or messages to the employee based on the reason for the call.

Routing is elementary because we can also break it down with time conditions. We can say during office hours, try to transfer the call, and if that does not work, take a message. Since everyone enjoys relaxation at lunch, from 11 to 12, or whatever time you set, we do not even try to transfer the call and take a message. What about those late-night calls? We will take a note unless it’s urgent, and then we can text or transfer the call to you. Of course, a Virtual Receptionist company can fully customize this to your needs.

The best virtual receptionist companies will also offer your callers better customer service. The service is better because we can keep track of your FAQs and many more details of your business. It depends on how much information your virtual receptionist company is willing to collect and then how they store that information. With AnswerAide, we try to gather as much information as possible, because we like for all callers to feel like they are dealing with an employee in-house.

Should I choose a virtual receptionist service or are telephone answering service companies a better choice?

This question comes down to how satisfied you want your customers and how much you want to spend. Local answering service companies are going to cost you less than the live virtual receptionist. Therefore, if you are a start-up company, on a tight budget, or do not plan on having a ton of calls, then an answering service will work for your company.

If you want your customers to have the best experience and do not want them to realize that they landed at a call center, then you are going to want a virtual receptionist company. The majority of callers to a virtual receptionist should not realize they had reached a call center. Instead, they should think they are speaking to an employee at the company they called. Of course, if they were to ask, the virtual receptionist will have to say they are a virtual receptionist.

At AnswerAide we want your callers to have the best experience, so all of our answering service clients receive virtual receptionist service. The technology available today makes this very simple and we believe all answering services should offer the same virtual receptionist services.

An answering service and virtual assistance are two distinct forms of customer support that are often used interchangeably, but there are several key differences between the two.

An answering service typically refers to a live, telephone-based customer service system. In this system, a trained operator answers calls on behalf of a company and handles customer inquiries, providing support and information to callers. An answering service may also provide appointment scheduling, order taking, and message taking, among other functions. The key feature of an answering service is that it is live, which means that callers receive immediate assistance and can have their questions answered in real-time.

Virtual assistance, on the other hand, refers to an array of services provided by a remote worker or team of workers who use the internet and other digital technologies to support customers. Virtual assistance can take many forms, including email support, live chat support, and even video support. Virtual assistance is generally more flexible than an answering service, as it can be provided 24/7 and can be customized to meet the specific needs of a company and its customers. Additionally, virtual assistance is often less expensive than an answering service, as companies do not need to pay for office space, equipment, and other overhead costs associated with a call center.

In terms of the level of interaction, virtual assistance typically provides a higher level of customer engagement than an answering service. For example, with virtual assistance, customers can receive personalized support, such as live chat or video support, which allows them to communicate directly with a support representative. This level of interaction can lead to a more satisfying customer experience, as customers can have their questions answered in real-time and receive tailored support based on their individual needs.

Another difference between answering services and virtual assistance is the level of automation. An answering service is typically a fully manual system, with live operators answering calls and handling customer inquiries. Virtual assistance, on the other hand, can use a combination of human support and automated systems, such as chatbots or AI-powered virtual assistants. This allows companies to provide support more efficiently, while still maintaining a high level of customer engagement.

In terms of the type of support provided, answering services tend to be more limited in scope compared to virtual assistance. An answering service is typically focused on providing basic customer support and information, while virtual assistance can provide a wider range of support services, including product information, order processing, and technical support. Virtual assistance can also provide additional services, such as social media management, website design and development, and even sales support.

Finally, it is important to consider the target audience when deciding between an answering service and virtual assistance. An answering service is typically best suited for businesses that receive a large volume of incoming calls and need to ensure that all calls are answered promptly. Virtual assistance is a good option for businesses that want to provide their customers with a more comprehensive range of support services and a higher level of interaction. Virtual assistance is also ideal for businesses that want to provide support outside of traditional business hours, as virtual assistance can be provided 24/7.

In conclusion, answering services and virtual assistance are two distinct forms of customer support that offer different advantages and disadvantages. An answering service is best suited for businesses that receive a high volume of incoming calls and need to ensure that all calls are answered promptly, while virtual assistance is ideal for businesses that want to provide a higher level of customer engagement and a more comprehensive range of support services. Ultimately, the choice between an answering service and virtual assistance will depend on the specific needs of a business and its customers.

If you need an answering service or a virtual receptionist, please feel free to contact us.

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