Small businesses and solopreneurs can gain measurable benefits using live virtual receptionists. Admit it. You’re professional and personal lives are stretched—sometimes to a breaking point. A recent study by Gallup of small business owners found that 39 percent report working over 60 hours every week. Thirty-six percent work six days a week, with 21 percent indicating they work seven days a week.

It makes sense that small business owners should look to live virtual receptionists. Often available on-demand, live virtual receptionists enable small business owners to focus on their business while outsourcing administrative functions such as answering—and where appropriate routing—incoming calls, texts, emails, and live web chat. 

Not only does this increase productivity, but it ensures that your prospects and customers receive virtual real-time engagement—getting their questions answered and their problems resolved. In the case of the latter, too many phone calls simply aren’t answered—62 percent according to one study. In addition to frustrating customers and driving down satisfaction and loyalty, unanswered calls can directly impact sales. 

Beyond impacting inbound communications, live virtual receptionists also can help small businesses become more proactive in their outreach to customers and prospects. In this case, live virtual receptionists can be used for targeted sales and marketing call campaigns and outreach to facilitate customer service interactions or advocacy activities. 

The good news is that accessing and engaging with live virtual receptionists has never been easier. Live receptionist services like Davinci Live Receptionists provide small business owners with a low entry point as well as the ability to scale to accommodate business growth and fluctuations in incoming calls, email, text, and live web chat. 

So, now that you’re convinced that you need a live virtual receptionist services, what are some of the things that you should seek in a provider? Following are 11 traits of a good live receptionist against which you can evaluate your options:

1. Reliable and Available

It is critical that they reliable and available. Many customers and prospects simply will not call back if their call goes unanswered or if they are put into a long queue. Studies show you have less than 75 seconds to engage before callers hang up and go elsewhere. Additionally, even in instances where the call is answered, one in five callers will abandon the call. Make sure your live virtual receptionists answer calls in near real time and make the seconds count. 

2. Knowledge of Your Business

Fielding an incoming call or initiating a live web chat are meaningless activities unless your live virtual receptionist understands your business. Customers and prospects will become frustrated very quickly if your live virtual receptionists cannot answer their questions, route them to the right person, enable them to self-serve by finding the right information, or resolve their issue. 

3. Resourcefulness

Memorable interactions translate into positive customer experiences. Live virtual receptionists must understand your business and keep their pulse on the issues confronting your customers. Rather than simply taking messages and forwarding calls, live virtual receptionists take a vested interest in your customers and roll up their sleeves to help them answer their questions and solve their problems. 

4. Versatile and Agile

Live virtual receptionists often serve numerous customers representing varying industries. In these instances, they must be able to quickly and seamlessly transition between customers with widely diverging questions and issues. They absorb best practices and lessons learned, applying them across each of the accounts they serve.

5. Communications Skills

Verbal and written communications skills are a requisite for a live virtual receptionist. Whether speaking with a customer to resolve a service issue over the phone, chatting with a prospect about your products or services over live web chat, or following up with a customer who called the day before about the status of an order, live virtual receptionists must possess excellent communications skills to be successful.

6. Brand Advocates

Live virtual receptionists are often the entry point to your business and those initial interactions have lasting brand impressions. Serving as ambassadors for your brand, live virtual receptionists need to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable about your business and industry.

7. Organized

Live virtual assistants must juggle between a lot of different customers, service and sales scenarios, and tasks that necessitate someone who is organized and able to make quick sense of all of these nuances. Live virtual assistants who lack organizational skills simply cannot keep up with the pace and will falter and fall behind—often dropping the ball or delivering subpar engagement experiences. 

8. Multitask

The concept of doing one thing at a time, doing it well, and then moving on simply doesn’t exist in the digital world. Rather, live virtual receptionists must be able to multitask—serving one customer on the phone while chatting with two others in live web chat sessions.

9. Business Savvy

Not every customer or prospect interaction goes well, and here live virtual receptionists need to know when a call needs to be escalated to higher tier support. Understanding when to escalate a customer interaction from one engagement channel to another is also important (e.g., transition from live web chat to phone).

10. Resilient

It isn’t easy to serve on the front lines when it comes to customer service or sales support. Some calls, live web chats, and email exchanges simply don’t go well. Customers are impatient and don’t want to listen and prospects window shop and lack serious interest. This can be disheartening to some and impact their work. Thus, it is important to look for virtual live receptionists who are resilient and able to quickly pivot from a negative engagement and deliver a great engagement experience for the next customer on the phone or in a live web chat session.

11. Motivated

Some live virtual receptionists work from their home offices, while others work from physical office locations with other live virtual receptionists. In either case, you need professionals who are self-motivated and willing to go the extra mile to find an answer or discover the solution to a problem. 

One key takeaway from the above list is that soft skills—those that aren’t learned—are as critical or more critical than hard skills when it comes to live virtual receptionists. Understanding how your live virtual receptionist provider selects candidates for their team and how they evaluate them on an ongoing basis is important. Those that place a higher primacy on soft skills are likely to be the ones that deliver the best results.