Launching your business came with seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Yet, here you are—a steadily operating company that has customers and clients calling in on a daily basis. While it’s exciting to have the phone ringing off the hook and the email inbox populating, responding to all these inquiries takes time away from your critical responsibilities.
In the age of remote working, savvy business owners are turning to virtual receptionists for their administrative needs. A virtual receptionist can be a lifesaver for many daily tasks, such as answering calls and chats, scheduling meetings, and general customer service. Put simply, a virtual receptionist can take care of those pesky to-dos that pop up during the work day (and outside of working hours). In turn, you’re left to manage the most important aspect: your business.
So, how much is a virtual receptionist?
The short answer is: it depends. You could pay anywhere from tens to thousands of dollars per month for a virtual receptionist. This considerable range is dictated by the needs of the business.
Types of Virtual Receptionist Plans
To begin: no two virtual receptionist services are created equal. Services differ in price points, quality of communication, and capabilities. You want to make sure you know the differences between a virtual receptionist answering service, answering service, and a call center to ensure it aligns with your business needs.
So, while you might save money by opting for the cheapest option, this could leave your customers with a less-than-adequate support system. On the opposite end, a virtual receptionist intends to save you money without breaking the budget.
When hiring a virtual receptionist, you can typically choose from three different tiers of service.
Tier 3 – Overseas Call Center
In the virtual receptionist industry, the lowest tier is considered “Tier 3.” Typically, this is a completely overseas solution, like a call center in India or the Philippines. While this may offer the most affordable solution for your company, it could create a frustrating experience for your customers. This option tends to not possess the skill and qualities a virtual receptionist should have that ensures customer satisfaction.
The receptionist may be impersonal or may not be able to address every concern. A customer may also experience longer hold times and poor call quality. Since these receptionists generally have limited knowledge of your business, they usually can’t provide your customers with the experience they’re looking for.
- Usually 24/7 service
- Language barriers
- Call quality not assured
- Limited knowledge of your business
Tier 2 – The Basic Answerer & Scheduler
The next step up in the virtual receptionist industry is the “Tier 2” service, which is typically considered the baseline English-speaking call receptionist. Although these services will efficiently answer all your calls, they may not be able to bring your business’s personality into customer service.
Due to the rote answering services that tend to come with Tier 2, the most common complaints include:
- Limited features – Typically, you’ll only receive the most basic services, like call answering or an auto-receptionist.
- Technology issues – Many Tier 2 services are prone to technical issues. This may affect the quality of the call and, in some cases, may even drop calls.
- Scalability – As your business grows, it may be more difficult for this tier to grow with it. If you need more administrative assistance, you might have to start all over with a brand-new service.
- Customization – There are fewer ways for your business to express its unique personality through this tier’s services. While your customer is on hold, for example, they’ll probably hear a generic message on repeat or a low-quality tune.
- Friendliness – Because Tier 2 services are known for efficiency (rather than personality), modern companies often find the answering services impersonal or unprofessional.
Most businesses want to cement their business’s stellar image in a customer’s mind. A Tier 2 virtual receptionist will attend to your customer service and basic administrative needs, but they likely won’t be able to accommodate the style of service that sets your business apart. Depending on your customer needs, personality, and industry, this could translate into future sales losses.
- English language services
- Efficient call answering and administrative work
- Difficult to expand services as your business’s needs expand
- Customers may consider your business impersonal
- It may be obvious that the receptionist doesn’t actually work for your business
Tier 1 – The “Extension of Your Business” Receptionist
When you want to hire the best for your business, you’ll want a Tier 1 service. These are top-tier virtual receptionist services that include:
- High-quality communication – From the quality of the technology to the receptionist’s script, everything about a Tier 1 service is of the highest quality.
- Professionalism – Receptionists are trained in great customer service. They’ll maintain a high standard of professionalism on each and every call.
- Technology – Top-of-the-line technology means that customers will always have clear, audible conversations. Dropped calls are a thing of the past.
- Customization – You have complete control over how the calls are handled. When a customer phones with a concern or request, they’ll experience your brand standards during every call. That means you can choose how your receptionist greets customers and even what music customers hear when they’re on hold.
- Friendliness – Receptionists are trained not only in your business’s way of doing things, but in excellent customer service. They’ll be able to keep a positive attitude, even with your most challenging customers.
- Additional services – If you maintain an online presence, a Tier 1 virtual receptionist service may even be able to provide live chat support to your digital customers.
A top virtual receptionist service will also be based in America. While some services may hire receptionists who work from home, others like Abby Connect, have a dedicated office space to ensure only the best technology and quality. (All of our receptionists answer your calls from our office in sunny Las Vegas.) The best services often also provided a dedicated customer support point of contact, internal QA, and additional features like an app and web portal.
These types of services are fully customizable for your business’s needs and handle all those pesky administrative tasks, so you can focus on growing your business.
- Well trained receptionists and high-quality technology
- The receptionist team grows with your call volume
- Your team improves the longer they work with your business
- Customizable plans and personalized service options
- An app and web portal where you can access your call log and update preferences
- Strong first-impressions making your business look reliable and credible
- More expensive than Tier 1 and 2
What Does a Virtual Receptionist Charge?
Similar to how every virtual receptionist service will be unique, so too will be the billing and costs. Here are the five most common pricing models you’ll find in the virtual receptionist industry:
- By the minute – This is typically considered the most straightforward plan. In this case, calls will be measured and payments will be made based on time spent assisting your customers.
- By call – Some services bill customers for each phone call or each live chat interaction completed. You’ll pay the same price if the call lasted 15 seconds or 15 minutes, so this might not be the best option if your business handles all different types of calls.
- By the month – You might also pay a monthly subscription fee for your virtual receptionist service. Pay attention to how many minutes are included in your monthly plan and if there are any hidden fees.
- Scaled pricing – Some virtual receptionist services offer tailored options for the size of your business. As your business grows, you’ll be able to bump up to different levels of service for your needs.
- Bundles – You may be able to purchase monthly bundled packages, allowing you to make one payment for multiple services, like live online chat and call minutes.
Reasons to Hire a Tier 1 Quality Virtual Receptionist
A receptionist is an excellent investment if you’re trying to grow your small business. Allocating a budget for a virtual receptionist service means you won’t have to spend time on daily administrative tasks.
In addition to freeing up your day, a virtual receptionist can expand your business’s capabilities.
If you’re in an industry where time is of the essence (aka, most industries), many potential clients choose businesses based solely on responsiveness. Having a virtual receptionist service on call 24/7/365 makes sure that you won’t miss a single call—so you won’t miss a single client.
Even if a customer calls at 2 a.m. on a Sunday night, your virtual receptionist will greet them with a friendly voice. And with your team of virtual receptionists handling the midnight hours, you and your internal staff will remain undisturbed—allowing you to get more sleep without worrying about calls going unanswered. This 24/7 answering ability has many more potential advantages for your business: when they can reach a live receptionist at your business at all hours, your customers will be less likely to turn to a competitor.
Reduce Spam Calls
When you first launched your business, you may have been inundated with calls from other businesses, offering you deals on everything from paper to water coolers to marketing services. Answering these calls can be a massive timesuck. Studies at UC Berkeley have shown that recovering from any distraction can take as long as 8 minutes to 25 minutes.
A virtual receptionist will filter out all spam calls so you don’t have to.
Virtual vs In-house Costs
A virtual receptionist can take care of the many daily tasks that an in-house receptionist would accomplish. The main difference between the two? Cost.
Hiring an in-house receptionist requires you to also pay:
- Full-time receptionist salary
- Vacation time
- Sick pay
- Employee benefits
- Health insurance
- Reception area
- Technology costs (computer, phone)
And you don’t have to worry about sick day coverage when you hire a virtual reception service. There’s a whole team of trained professionals ready to step in and support your business at a moment’s notice. Plus, you’ll likely also save on costs you could incur from hiring the wrong person. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when an in-house hire doesn’t work out, the turnover cost usually adds up to at least 30% of that person’s yearly wages. For an employee earning $50,000 a year, that equates to a loss of around $15,000.
Meanwhile hiring a virtual receptionist is a cost-saving measure that redefines what a receptionist can do for your business. It’s a win-win.
Already have an in-house receptionist? If you have a high call volume, your receptionist may be stuck spending all day on the phone! A virtual receptionist service can also fill in during their off-hours (like the middle of the night) or take the phones off their plate so they can focus on other work.
Find Your Perfect Virtual Receptionist Team With Abby Connect
Let Abby connect you with your perfect team of virtual receptionists. We are one of the only services that offers a highly trained team of receptionists at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house. We offer professional and friendly services that will delight both you and your customers. Choose from one of our three tiers of live virtual reception:
- 100 minutes – $2.99 per minute
- 200 minutes – $2.75 per minute
- 500 minutes – $2.40 per minute
Your plan will renew every month, although you’ll never have to sign a contract. And you’ll only pay for the time that our receptionists are on the phone with your clients. We don’t engage with spam, so you can rest assured that each penny you spend with Abby is going back toward your business.
- Berkeley People & Culture. The Impact of Interruptions. https://hr.berkeley.edu/impact-interruptions
- Business.com. 5 Reasons You Should Consider Using a Virtual Receptionist. https://www.business.com/articles/virtual-receptionist/
- Software Testing Help. 11 Best Virtual Receptionist Services [2023 UPDATED RANKING]. https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/virtual-receptionist-services/
- Northwestern University. The Cost of a Bad Hire. https://www.northwestern.edu/hr/about/news/february-2019/the-cost-of-a-bad-hire.html