Is a Remote Receptionist a Reliable Receptionist?
By Victor Mataraso, M.B.A.
Top 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Remote Receptionist.
First, to understand the difference between a traditional live telephone answering service and a remote or off-site receptionist, please refer to my earlier post on the subject (https://cityscoop.us/bayarea-answeringservices/2009/01/03/what-is-the-difference-between-and-answering-service-and-an-off-site-receptionist/).
Now that you have been enlightened and would like to select a live receptionist for your business, let’s take a look at the primary considerations when selecting the firm you will work with.
1) Do they assign you a small, dedicated reception team? There are several key benefits to having a dedicated team of receptionists assigned to handle your business. By limiting the number of different people handling your calls to 4 or 5, your receptionist can actually get familiar with your business and function as an extension of your staff as well as the front-end for your business. The goal here is that your callers feel as though they’ve reached your office and not some anonymous third-party call center. On the flip-side, having a small team insures your calls are always answered live (even if someone is on the other line), and you don’t need to worry about sick days, lunch breaks, vacations, etc. If your answering service claims to offer receptionist services, ask how many different people will be taking your calls.
2) Do they have a system or process in place for properly screening and routing your phone calls? Chances are any modern day telephone services company will utilize a computer telephone integration system to answer your calls. That means a computer screen pops for the receptionist and instructs them on handling the call. However, there are a wide range of systems available and not all are created equally. To be effective as a remote receptionist, your team needs to have access to more information than just your company name and greeting. The system should house detailed information about your personnel, connecting phone numbers, individual call handling preferences, web links to your site and allow flexbility in creating a customized call handling process for your business. If your service provider is limited to name, greeting and message taking, they can’t truly function as your receptionist.
3) Will they invest the time to conduct a personalized training session with you? Many larger telephone answering services will answer calls for many hundreds of different clients all around the country or the world. They are not interested in spending much time with you personalizing their service or even understanding your business. To truly function as a remote receptionist, the service provider you choose should offer to conduct a training session with you. The goal is to train their staff just like you’d train your own employee. This will likely be done through the representative who helps setup your account (the receptionists are on the phone after-all), but all the scenarios that come up on your phone calls should be covered along with appropriate procedures for handling each type of call. While this can be done via telephone, it is often a more productive process when you have the option to visit your remote receptionist provider, meet the team and conduct an in-person training session.
4) Do they have current technology that can insure seamless call connections and provide valuable features? Telephone technology has been evolving at light-speed and many of the features available today did not exist even a few short years ago. The best firms now employ technology that makes the call connection process truly seamless. That means there should be no excessive clicking, ringing, awkward conferencing or other signs that the receptionist is working from a remote location. Instead, the process should function much as a traditional receptionst. Your call should be answered live, privately announced while your caller briefly holds (with music is nice), then instantly connected to you or redirected by the receptionist at your request. Anything less risks sounding unprofessional.
5) Are they local to your area? Most small business owners would not consider outsourcing their bread and butter phone calls to some anonymous call center in another city or country. The remote receptionist is an opportunity for a different kind of relationship. By finding a local provider, you can actually get to know the people answering your phone calls, conduct in-person training and treat your reception team as an extension of your staff. This, ultimately, is the promise that a remote receptionist can fulfill for you.
Victor Mataraso is the founder and president of Reliable Receptionist, a personalized, off-site telephone reception and appointment scheduling service based in Walnut Creek, CA and serving San Francisco and the East Bay Area. Victor is an expert in business communications and creating systems to increase sales and improve customer service. To schedule a complimentary business communications consultation, call Reliable Receptionist at (925) 627-4200 or visit www.ReliableReceptionist.com.