In an ever-increasing competitive landscape, measuring the business value of any endeavor is vital. From marketing to technology to personnel, companies large and small need to understand the business value each project or capital expense ultimately delivers.

If it’s not working, after all, why keep doing it? Or, by contrast, if you aren’t doing the work that brings the most value to your organization because you are in the weeds with administrative tasks, including answering the phones, why not delegate it? When it comes to staying on top of the phones, a virtual receptionist can eliminate that frustration and add measurable business value to your operation.

“We don't have enough staff to man the phones during business hours,” says David Waring, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fit Small Business. “So the primary advantage to having a virtual receptionist is that having a live person answer the phone is much more professional than sending calls to voicemail during business hours.”

With that in mind, there are several key ways live receptionists provide measureable business value to your firm:

1. Calls are answered promptly during business hours.

With a virtual assistant, if you are in a meeting, out to lunch, or at a doctor’s appointment, you won’t miss a sales lead that could turn into a new client because your phone lines will always be answered. Market research firm Forrester reports that more than 65 percent of callers will not leave a message in a voice mail. Just one missed sales lead could mean thousands of dollars of lost income for your company.

2. You don’t have to hire a temp worker during employee vacations.

Hiring a temp service comes at a premium. You could pay twice as much as the going rate to bring in a temporary service to manage your phones, effectively doubling payroll during vacations, sick days or employment gaps.

3. Provide strong customer service.

Answering the phones is just good customer service. According to market research firm Gartner, 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of its existing customers. What’s more, Bain & Co. reports that a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.

4. You can spend your time more wisely.

What’s your time worth? If your time is worth $100 an hour, or even $25 an hour, you are wasting valuable resources answering the phone. Think about it for a minute. How many times have you got stuck talking someone who wasted so much of your time that you missed another business opportunity or didn’t complete an important task—or had to stay late to do it?

5. Broadcast a more professional image.

Perception is reality most of the time. Answering your own general corporate line can give the appearance of a one-man operation—even if you are not a one-man operation. You want to present a professional image and that often means keeping up with appearances. Answering your own phone lines may feel like a personal touch, but it can send the wrong signal to clients that you don’t have anything better to do.

Of course, not just any live receptionist can get the job done. It’s vital that you choose a live receptionist firm that gets to know your business. In other words, you need to train live receptionists with the knowledge that they need to direct calls to the right people at the right time, take clear messages according to the guidelines that help you streamline communications, and otherwise understand the nuances of your business so they can be in synch with your company.