When it comes to corporate seals of approval, they don’t come much better than Tim Ferriss. As the best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, the American entrepreneur is an advocate for working smarter, not harder and has helped countless people and organizations do just that.
And that is why when he advocates the hiring of virtual receptionists, it’s a voice worth listening to.
Ferriss sang the praises of virtual assistants in The 4-Hour Workweek, highlighting how outsourcing mundane and time-consuming jobs allowed him to focus on more enjoyable and valuable tasks that ultimately grew his business. More than a decade on and the trend has become a tsunami, with highly skilled offshore staff and cutting-edge technology allowing fledgling start-ups and global organizations alike to benefit from the practice.
Between an increasing demand for 24/7 service and a COVID-inspired rise in remote workforces, virtual receptionists are set to play an even bigger role in coming years than even Ferris could have imagined. When you consider the benefits they offer, it’s not hard to see why more people are answering ‘yes’ when asked ‘Should I get a virtual receptionist?’
Here are five benefits of hiring a virtual receptionist:
If first impressions are everything in business, few things are worse than failing to make an impression at all. An unanswered phone is not just a missed call – it is a sign to a potential or existing customer that your organization lacks size, is unorganized or can’t even be bothered to pick up the phone. The same goes for businesses that fail to respond to voicemails. None of this bodes well for future engagement, particularly as most people will only try to contact a company once or twice before moving on to a competitor. Business is tough enough without letting opportunities slip so easily.
In an increasingly global environment, it has never been more important for businesses to be ready to take a call regardless of time zones or normal operating hours. Customers expect a response in real time and virtual receptionists allow organizations to showcase that they are ready to take a call at any time and from anywhere. Many companies even implement a blended system, with in-house receptionists on hand during business hours and outsourced staff stepping up after-hours.
Back to first impressions, nothing says ‘professionalism’ more than having incoming calls answered by a receptionist. A prompt greeting by a well-spoken and qualified team member immediately tells customers they are dealing with a well-run organization. For start-ups and smaller businesses, it can also reassure them that this is not a one-person operation. While that may indeed be close to the truth, perception is everything and virtual receptionists can play a crucial role in altering perceptions. Handling incoming calls is also a skill in its own right and there are benefits to be gained from them being managed by a team member with a dedicated focus, rather than those having to do so begrudgingly.
Every time an entrepreneur or overqualified team member has to answer a routine call or manage an inquiry, it stops them from tackling more productive jobs. There are only so many hours in a work day and it makes sense that people get every opportunity to spend them on valuable tasks that help grow the business. This is particularly so for business leaders who should be focused on developing new products or services, rolling out strategies, building corporate culture or networking. Virtual receptionists also do a lot more than answer phone calls, with many boosting their own productivity by responding to emails, managing schedules and tackling repetitive tasks.
Recruiting and training an in-house receptionist is a significant cost for a company to bear, especially in the start-up phase when budgets are tight. Missing leads or failing to appear professional may prove more costly in the long run though, which is why using virtual receptionists appeal to many organizations. Outsourcing allows businesses to access highly qualified staff at a fraction of the price they would locally, with the cost of living in nations such as the Philippines meaning they can save up to 70% on labor and operating costs. Virtual receptionists can also be employed on flexible contracts, with their hours increasing or decreasing depending on demand.
With remote working models the new norm on the back of the global pandemic, once-hesitant managers are fast realizing the power of outsourcing. Reduced costs, increased efficiencies and the ability to provide 24/7 support are just a few of the benefits they are tapping into, not to mention access to a global talent pool. This is particularly so for virtual receptionists, with more than 19,000 experienced candidates in one Filipino database alone.
Virtual receptionists are just one of the ways that organizations are working smarter, not harder. To learn a few more, check out Top 9: The Best Productivity Apps and Hacks for Businesses.
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