As your business grows, you may be finding that you and your team are spending more and more time on the phone. While the extra interest may be welcomed, for single person operations or growing start-ups, the increased call volumes may prove to be more of a distraction than desired.
Two potential solutions to deal with your increased popularity would be either an auto-attendant or virtual receptionist. While these sound like the same thing, there are actually a few differences between the two.
What is a Virtual Receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is an actual person or team of people who will handle and answer calls to your business number on your behalf. Virtual receptionists, as the name suggests are based out of a satellite, or virtual office, outside of your own organisation.
Virtual receptionists can be useful if you need to outsource the handling of all your calls away from your team and can cost a fraction of what would be required to hire a full-time in-house receptionist.
These live receptionists are trained to deal with customers and some virtual receptionist firms may specialise in particular fields, such as finance or real estate, or even offer multilingual support.
The Pros of Virtual Receptionists
- Will reduce the call volumes to your staff.
- Callers can speak to a real person and human experience.
- A virtual receptionist may also be able to assist with additional tasks such as scheduling appointments or processing orders.
- Can be cheaper than hiring full-time reception staff.
The Cons of Virtual Receptionists
- Can require extra resource if additional training or familiarity with your product is required.
- You won’t always have oversight of the virtual receptionist team.
- It may be harder to swiftly reach customer resolutions with an additional party involved.
What is an Auto-Attendant?
An auto-attendant is an automatic system that manages, routes and transfers inbound calls to your destination of choice, based on rules that you decide.
Auto attendant phone systems work with your existing team members to limit the impact of inbound calls on your staff’s working day and increase the free time available for tasks within their regular job role.
Set-up welcome greetings or out-of-hours messaging, funnel calls to the best department using IVR call menus, or even queue calls until an agent becomes available. As a business tool, an auto-attendant phone system can provide added flexibility for your company.
The Pros of Auto-Attendants
- Will help to maximise your staff’s free time.
- Is the most cost-effective call handling solution.
- Can quickly place calls with the ideal person or most appropriate department.
- Provides a consistent caller experience.
- Automatically answers calls within the timescale you set up.
- Is an easily scalable solution.
The Cons of Auto-Attendants
- Can only provide a limited amount of information to the caller.
- There can be a slight lack of a human touch until the caller gets through to a member of staff.
Auto-Attendants vs. Virtual Receptionists
Both solutions will lessen the call load for yourself and your employees, and both have a variety of advantages available to them.
Virtual receptionists can provide an instant human touch for your callers, but for more in-depth queries, a virtual receptionist may not always have all the knowledge or be the best person to provide the fastest resolution for your caller.
With an auto-attendant you can be sure calls will get to the ideal person, making for increased customer satisfaction all round. As auto-attendants are also compatible with a variety of call strategies, from routing calls to your least busy agent or to those with specialist skills, you can set up the call experience exactly as you want it.
While virtual receptionists can be trained in some of the aspects of your business, they can sometimes lack the flexibility associated with auto-attendants, which can be created around your daily schedules and company personnel. This means that during seasonal holidays such as Christmas, your auto-attendant phone system will always be there to intelligently route calls. This is perfect for times of the year when there may be a lower availability of virtual receptionists or you need a call answering solution at short notice.
For SMEs and start-ups who like to use data to inform decisions, combining auto-attendant features with call statistic reports can often offer valuable business insights too, such as popular call times or busiest departments for inbound calls.
Choose the Best Answering Solution For Your Business
Whether directing calls to different departments, giving callers the chance to leave a voicemail, or simply letting them know what call queue position they are in, auto-attendants are an inexpensive but valuable feature of any business phone system.
For anyone that is still undecided as to the best business call answering solution, there is always the third option of combining an auto-attendant with a virtual receptionist, which can potentially give you the best of both worlds.
Sign up for a free 14 day trial today to try out Yay.com’s auto-attendant features, and see how they can improve efficiency and customer satisfaction for your business.