Phone answering services and virtual receptionists have become commonplace in the UK. Small and medium-sized businesses use them to add a professional veneer to their operations. These two entities also appeal to companies that lack the manpower required to field all the calls they receive from customers on a daily basis. But are they the […]
Phone answering services and virtual receptionists have become commonplace in the UK. Small and medium-sized businesses use them to add a professional veneer to their operations. These two entities also appeal to companies that lack the manpower required to field all the calls they receive from customers on a daily basis.
But are they the same thing? People use “Phone Answering Service” and “Virtual Receptionist” interchangeably but is that accurate? The answer to that question isn’t so straightforward. Virtual receptionists and answering services look, act, and sound like the same entity.
However, a thin, nearly imperceptible line separates them:
Phone Answering Services
Answering services are a little more specific in their operations than Virtual Receptionists. As their name suggests, they answer calls and record messages which they are expected to pass on to the relevant individuals. Call answering services are supposed to provide customers a live person with whom they can talk to.
This is as opposed to using voicemail or a call queue. People use answering services when their office becomes overwhelmed with phone calls. Some companies will hire a call answering service on a more permanent basis. But in many cases, the average business will only turn to answering services after the agents it already employs are overcome by the volume of inbound calls.
Virtual Receptionists answer phone calls just like call answering services. They also providing messaging services. So what makes them special? Well, virtual receptionists are supposed to act like real receptionists except for the fact that they operate remotely.
You can rely on a virtual receptionist to deliver messages, manage schedules, book appointments, etc. If you run a website or a blog, they can capture leads, update plugins, and even manage some of your online transactions if the need arises.
Virtual Receptionists are intimately involved in the operations of a business. Like a call answering service, you can arm a virtual receptionist with a script to ensure that their interactions with customers are appropriate. However, they are also expected to provide basic customer support to your callers. To do this, they must acquire a competent understanding of your products and services.
Put simply, a virtual receptionist partners with your business. A call answering service is more transient.
They only enter the picture in desperate situations where your own agents have failed to perform their duties.
Which One Should You Hire?
To be clear, there are plenty of answering services that feature the characteristics we just attributed to the virtual receptionist. This is why the line separating the two tends to blur. It is also the reason why you are not completely wrong whenever you use these two terms interchangeably.
But if you had to choose between the two, your business is better off hiring a virtual receptionist if you need a partner that can provide administrative services. However, if all you want is an assistant that can answer phone calls and record messages, a phone answering service is adequate. Regardless of the category you choose, at Callcenter.co.uk, we can still guarantee a trained professional with the experience required to satisfy your needs.