Most organizations, whether big or small, are constantly searching for solutions which can help them improve their B2B and B2C connections. However, their pursuits are severely restricted by the lack of a cross-sectional telephony alternative which can successfully function in a wide array of business domains.
The situation requires the development of an interactive medium that can effectively balance simplicity and professionalism with affordability. This is why the strategy of using an auto attendant phone system has steadily begun to gain pace. Being competent, secure and reliable in nature, a virtual receptionist or auto attendant equips businesses to improve customer service while enhancing their public perception and facilitating long-term association.
At this juncture, it becomes important to understand what a virtual receptionist system is and how it provides a significant boost to your customer relationship management.
What is a virtual receptionist?
Commonly known as a virtual auto attendant or a virtual receptionist, an automated attendant is essentially a voice-based menu system which permits the transfer of calls to various telephone extensions, without the need of a receptionist or any human intervention.
The virtual receptionist phone system performs a multitude of functions which largely include:
- Automated call answering
- Inbound call transferring
- Auto attendant greetings
- Call routing prompts
- Automated dial directory
- General business announcements
- System menu options
A virtual receptionist setup ensures that a systematic and coherent call flow is maintained throughout the entire user group. Right from the initial greeting to the final call transfer, it diligently connects customers to the departments or individuals of their choice.
How it boosts your business communication
For most customers, a telephone call is the first point of contact with a business. This is why any network issues or delayed connections at this stage can potentially cause damage to an organization’s reputation. A virtual answering service can help you work through such problems, thereby, improving your brand image and business productivity.
A virtual receptionist empowers you by:
A virtual receptionist system lends a sense of professionalism and legitimacy to your organization. A professional recording lets your customers to know that you mean business. A simple greeting can leave a lasting impression on your customer’s mind.
Receiving all the calls
Missing a call simply means missing out on an opportunity. Even at times when employees are not around, a virtual receptionist receives every call. It also records and acknowledges all the customers and in case of non-availability, delivers the message to voicemail.
In comparison to human receptionists, who might not be able to provide the same level of speech consistency every time a call is answered, a pre-designed virtual receptionist script is homogeneous in tone and can generally be customized to meet the specific needs of your business.
If you have linked your business phone with a virtual receptionist software, you would be able to cut down major operating costs. To begin with, you wouldn’t need to hire a permanent receptionist, thus saving on training & maintenance resources. Moreover, the calls will be accurately routed, which will help raise general productivity.
The greetings do not have to be mechanical. Instead, you can just use a greeting generator to personalize your messages and menu options. All you have to do is prepare a script template and record it. At Exotel, we have an in-house voice-over artist to help record the message.
As connecting time is decreased, the image of your business improves drastically. Whether you are using an auto attendant for cell phone or are connecting it to a business phone, with greater customer satisfaction, the reputation of your brand is bound to strengthen, thereby maximizing its service potential and augmenting the overall profitability!
Auto attendant v/s IVR
Although a virtual receptionist shares a number of similarities with an interactive voice response system (IVRS), both function in a different way. Despite being used interchangeably in common parlance, these products can be better understood by highlighting their differences.
- A virtual receptionist is a relatively simple system while an IVR is more complicated in structure, features, and capabilities.
- A virtual receptionist setup merely requires a script which allows customers to get information and route calls via dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF). In other words, it just mimics the role of a receptionist. IVR, on the other hand, is based on advanced scripting, DTMF, voice recognition and text-to-speech conversion software, which can help a caller perform telephonic transactions and make decisions.
- IVR enables a business to offer new information about its products & services, track changes, reduce the need for hiring live agents, measure outcomes and operate as a complete system in itself. However, a virtual receptionist does not function in such a diverse set of domains.
- Both virtual receptionist and IVR can function on a variety of parameters and modes, but their ultimate objectives are different. The auto attendant recording aims to route the call in a queue and finally connect the caller to a live operator, whereas, the IVR intends to shorten the queue and handle all simple interactions on its own.
Let’s try to understand the difference with examples.
Consider a caller dialing a bank and is connected to their business phone with auto attendant. The caller would be given a couple of options and his calls would be routed to the requisite department. That is the limit up to which a virtual receptionist can operate. An IVR, however, can take this process forward by equipping the caller to obtain automated account information and conduct quick transactions, just by using his keypad!
A restaurant or a food delivery service identifying your phone number and prompting to press 1 to repeat the last order has IVR at play. This scenario is much more complicated than a virtual receptionist can handle.
A virtual receptionist is fairly straightforward. When you’re at a friend’s apartment gate, and the security procedures demand that the friend approves your entry, you can enter their name from the keypad and the system will read out the list of occupants with that particular name. You can choose your friend’s name to be connected to them instantly.
Virtual receptionist greetings/script examples
The first step towards writing a good script is crafting a skillful and polished script template. This template can be recorded by yourself or a professional voice-over artist. Nonetheless, there are a few best practices that you can follow, in order to appropriately integrate a script with your telephonic system:
- The greeting should ideally begin by thanking the caller for getting in touch. Thereafter, the company’s name and tagline should be clearly stated.
- Make sure that the greeting generator does not create more than two or three greeting sentences. No one has the time or patience to listen to long sentences, and this would show your callers that you value their time.
- Always remember that you will have two types of callers – those who are completely unfamiliar with your business and those who have worked with you before. Your recording should cater to both.
- Ensure that you use commonly accepted dialing options. For example, ask callers to press 0 for the main menu, 1 to talk to the receptionist etc.
- On the menu, place the most frequently contacted extensions first. Also, let the recording provide a quick description of the said extension/department.
- Pre-define the total wait time. This gives them an idea of how long they are going to be on hold. If the caller does not select an option within five seconds, have the call directly routed to a live receptionist.
Examples of greeting script templates:
1. Virtual receptionist script for a tech company
- For technical support, press 1.
- For customer service, press 2.
- For making a purchase, press 3.
- For sales-related information, press 4.
- To speak with an operator, press 5.
- Otherwise, press 0 and stay on the line. We will get in touch with you shortly”.
2. Virtual receptionist script for a medical office
- To speak to a physician, press 1.
- To schedule an appointment, press 2.
- For any medication-related assistance, press 3.
- For prescriptions or refills, press 4.
- For any other specific health issues, press 5″.
These are the kind of scripts which Exotel helps with for various industries.
Here is how leading businesses use Exotel’s virtual receptionist!
The success stories of leading businesses who have used Exotel ‘s auto attendant phone systems to their advantage are far too many. A few of them include:
Startup Village Collective
Aventure that focuses on helping student developers learn and hone their craft, Startup Village Collective offers a guided learning framework. Their telephonic systems were unable to handle student queries at all times. Especially during the admission season, the call waiting period was long . Exotel sorted this problem for them. It routed the students’ calls to the specific teams which were handling their query. If the agents were off-duty, a message was left on their voicemail. This helped the organization fill a massive communication gap.
Zostel is a leading innovator which services the needs of travellers and backpackers from across the world. Despite their extensive national expansion, the company was dealing with the difficulty of connecting all its hostels under a single network. Maintaining separate telephone lines was resulting in a substantial wastage of human and financial resources. With a virtual receptionist setup, Exotel managed to generate a menu-based system which routed the customers’ calls to a hostel located in the area they were visiting. This didn’t just ease the organization’s systemic capacity but it also improved the overall customer experience.
The Way Forward
The process of using a virtual receptionist to manage, organize, route and transfer calls have now begun to gather steam. Its affordability and sustainability makes it favourable for most networking and communication problems. Moreover, the reliability and ease of usage offer an additional benefit which can help businesses bolster their customer service.
As the systems of interaction continue to grow exponentially in the future, valuable and viable answers will be sought to maintain organizational relevance. Virtual receptionists will prove to be an immensely helpful operational and management tool.