Today, many business owners face a dilemma — should you prioritize core tasks or answer customer calls?
Fortunately, by hiring a virtual phone assistant, you can ensure you have enough time to focus on core activities while still attending important business calls.
It can be IVR (Interactive Voice Response) or real people taking calls on your company’s behalf so you can focus on critical activities.
In this article, we’ll cover what a virtual phone assistant is, what they do, and why you should hire them. We’ll also highlight the top five virtual assistant service providers you can hire VAs from and how to manage the VA once they’re hired.
This Article Covers:
(Click on a link below to go to a specific section)
- What Is A Virtual Phone Assistant?
- Which Businesses Would Benefit From A Virtual Phone Assistant?
- 5 Reasons To Hire A Virtual Phone Assistant
- What Can A Virtual Phone Assistant Do For You?
- Top 5 Virtual Phone Assistant Providers
- How To Manage A Virtual Phone Assistant
Let’s get started.
What Is A Virtual Phone Assistant?
A virtual phone assistant (or a virtual receptionist) can be an independent professional or software that provides a virtual call answering service to clients.
You could engage the services of a freelancer or a virtual assistant company for this purpose. They typically provide a virtual service from a remote location but can access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars.
How Does It Work?
You direct your company’s incoming calls to your virtual phone assistant. They answer your company’s inbound calls and route calls to the right person within the company, or they take a message.
In addition to fielding incoming calls, virtual phone assistants can also make outbound calls to your clients and prospective customers.
They can also answer FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and social media inquiries, set up appointments, live chat, manage your schedule, and so on – all from a remote location.
Your virtual phone assistant can also function as a virtual personal assistant.
Which Businesses Would Benefit From A Virtual Phone Assistant?
These are the type of companies that would largely benefit from a virtual phone assistant:
1. Startups And Small Businesses
A virtual phone assistant is a great choice for startups and small business owners. It’s the most common way to start your professional business phone system.
Moreover, there is no hardware equipment or office space required, which will help cut down on your operational expenses.
2. E-Commerce Businesses
If your business operates virtually and has no physical address, hiring a virtual phone assistant is a smart choice.
With an e-commerce business, it’s several customers will call with an inquiry. If a virtual assistant service attends to your incoming calls and emails, you can serve a higher number of customers.
You can also cut down waiting times for customers on hold, which helps boost customer satisfaction.
3. Serve Clients in All Geographic Locations
If your business operates nationally or globally, virtual assistant services can help you cater to your customers in other time zones.
These virtual assistants are often also located in different regions.
This way, your business can operate 24/7.
5 Reasons To Hire A Virtual Phone Assistant
Here are a few reasons you should hire a virtual phone assistant.
We’ve divided the benefits into two categories — one dealing with the pros of setting up a virtual phone system and the other dealing with the benefits of hiring virtual phone assistant professionals:
A. Benefits Of Virtual Phone Assistant Systems
Here are the benefits of utilizing a digital virtual phone assistant:
1. You Can Work From Anywhere
Remember, these are virtual phone systems.
As a result, they’re completely managed online and can work with your existing phone numbers.
This way, when you’re on the go, you can run your business using your cell phone.
2. You’ll Save Money
A virtual phone system possesses all the power of traditional phone systems, albeit in a more cost-efficient package.
For example, you can set up a virtual phone number and department extensions that work with your existing phone system. You also don’t need to buy expensive telecommunications equipment that needs to be installed on-site.
3. You’ll Look More Credible
Getting a virtual business phone system is an economical way to set up a toll-free number that will impress customers when they call you.
Having your own 1-800 number or toll-free vanity number makes your company seem more established.
Why is this important?
Just like a professional website, a professional desk phone number plays a big role in shaping your customers’ first impression. And a bad first impression will hurt your credibility and reputation.
B. Benefits of Hiring Virtual Phone Assistant Professionals
Here are the benefits of hiring a dedicated professional to handle your phone calls:
1. You’ll Make More Sales
A virtual office phone system costs next to nothing to set up, and when it’s coupled with an able professional, it can also help you boost sales.
With a virtual phone assistant, almost every customer query can be answered and resolved. You’ll have a lower number of missed calls going to voicemail.
Additionally, as it’s an actual human dealing with customers, you’ll be able to deliver a far more personalized experience – improving client satisfaction and increasing sales.
2 You Can Scale Your Team Quickly
Since your virtual assistant receptionist works in a completely virtual location, you can easily add new assistants to your team.
This will help you scale your team without worrying about additional overheads, space, and high salaries with employee benefits.
Additionally, hiring a virtual assistant usually costs less than a traditional full-time employee.
What Can A Virtual Phone Assistant Do For You?
Here are some of the tasks you can outsource:
1. Let Someone Else Screen Your Calls
With the help of a professional virtual receptionist, you don’t have to pick up every call yourself.
Your virtual phone assistant can handle call routing and forward important calls to you.
2. Acknowledge After-Work Calls
If you’re a business owner and take calls long after work, you can disrupt your work-life balance. However, with the help of a virtual receptionist service, it’s possible to acknowledge after-hour customer calls.
Your virtual phone assistant can always screen calls and alert you if they need your help.
3. Focus On Your Business Goals
By outsourcing phone services to a telephone answering service or remote professional, you can focus on core business activities like digital marketing and financial management.
Just leave call handling to your virtual answering service or live virtual receptionist, and you can concentrate on growing your business!
Top 5 Virtual Phone Assistant Providers In 2021
Below is a list of the best virtual phone assistant services:
1. Abby Connect
Abby Connect offers more than just a phone answering service. Their virtual receptionists can handle tasks like appointment scheduling and doing background research on potential customers.
- Offers 24/7 answering services every day of the year — you can also customize the hours you require.
- When call volume is high, assistants take messages and transfer only the critical calls to you.
- Bilingual answering services – fluent in both English and Spanish.
- Appointment scheduling using a tool that integrates with your Google and Outlook calendars.
Paid plans start at $2.79 per minute.
2. Virtual Headquarters
Virtual Headquarters offer experienced and trained virtual phone assistants and receptionists to answer your calls when you’re busy.
- Incoming calls can be redirected to a virtual phone assistant who can ask callers to leave a message.
- Shares business information like postal address, services offered, parking info, etc. with new callers.
- Redirect office landline calls to your personal mobile phone.
- Transfer calls to colleagues or a department.
Paid plans start at $20 per month.
Ruby is a live virtual receptionist and chat company geared towards small businesses. All of their virtual phone assistants are based in the United States.
- Share custom call handling instructions (routing, taking a message, etc.) with your virtual phone assistant.
- Offer personalized greetings for each of your clients.
- In-house chat tool to configure whether your clients want a live chat with you or the virtual assistant.
- Record your calls and analyze them to improve customer service skills.
Paid plans start at $319/month for up to 100 virtual assistant minutes.
Grasshopper provides a virtual phone system at a reasonable rate with countless business phone system features. You don’t have to purchase another mobile phone or expensive equipment because the tool can integrate with your existing devices.
- Make your business look professional with custom greetings or an auto attendant to welcome callers.
- Make calls from your mobile phone, desktop, and mobile app.
- Respond quickly using the Grasshopper’s virtual number.
- Easily check business messages and voicemail by accessing Grasshopper’s voicemail box.
Grasshopper’s monthly plans start at $29/month per user.
5. Unitel Voice
Unitel Voice is a cloud-based virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system specially designed for startups and small-scale businesses.
With Unitel Voice, you can add your business phone number as a second line to your current cell phone or office phone. Moreover, you don’t need to download any software – all of its cloud-based components can be managed online.
- Forward your business calls to a colleague if you’re busy.
- Get notifications on email or Unitel’s smartphone app when new faxes or voicemails arrive.
- Automatic voicemail transcriptions.
- Set your caller ID to display the caller’s number or your virtual phone systems number.
Unitel’s monthly plans start at $9.99/month per user. They also offer a free 30-day trial.
How To Manage A Virtual Phone Assistant Professional In 2021
Once you’ve hired a virtual phone assistant professional, you’ll need to track their work hours.
Fortunately, you can use a tool like Time Doctor to calculate the productivity of your team members.
What’s Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a time tracking and performance management tool used by large companies, like Ericsson and Verizon, and small businesses, such as Thrive Market and Firehouse Subs.
If your virtual receptionist knows that you’re monitoring them during work hours, they’re more likely to be focused and productive.
Here are some of Time Doctor’s best features:
A. Interactive Time Tracking
With Time Doctor, the VA can track time manually or automatically when they start their work. This helps you understand how long the task took them to complete.
Here’s how easy it is to track time manually:
- Click ‘Start’ to begin tracking time.
- Click ‘Stop’ to stop tracking time.
Note: Time Doctor offers automatic time tracking as well for increased flexibility. It will start tracking time automatically when you turn on your computer.
B. Assign Tasks And Projects
Create tasks for your virtual phone assistants based on projects and clients. This way, you can track the time they spend on each task.
You can assign tasks to a specific assistant or a group in a few clicks using Time Doctor.
- Go to ‘Add Task’ and create a new task.
- Click on ‘People’ and choose the team member you want to assign the task to.
C. In-Depth Reports
With Time Doctor, you can generate several reports to help you analyze your virtual phone assistants’ productivity, activity, web and app usage, etc.
Reports offered by Time Doctor include:
- Hours Tracked Report: Indicates how long your employees worked over a specific time frame.
- Activity Summary Report: Indicates how your team spends their work time.
- Project and Tasks Report: Reveals how much time your employees spend on each task.
- Timeline Report: This shows you the time your virtual phone assistants check-in and out on a day or over a week. These reports will also indicate how long they spent working and taking breaks.
- Attendance Report: See whether your virtual assistant is present, absent, or late.
- Custom Export: You can also customize what information you want to include in the report. So, you don’t have to download multiple individual reports.
- Web and App Usage Report: Reveals the websites and apps your virtual phone assistants used during a specific period.
If you want to focus on important things, like scaling your business – a virtual assistant could be a valuable asset to your company.
We’ve provided a useful list of phone answering services and highlighted their best qualities to help you choose the right one.
Once you’ve hired a professional virtual assistant, Time Doctor is the ideal solution to monitor your new employee’s performance. With its simple user interface and productivity features, you can easily manage your virtual assistant.
So why not sign up for Time Doctor today?
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.