Trends That Prove Your Small Business Needs a Virtual Receptionist
There are a lot of challenges small businesses cite when it comes to running their business—healthcare, regulations, taxes, economic downturns, the list is long. Nearly two-thirds of small business owners in a recent survey indicate they are more stressed about their business this year than last. Overarching most of the challenges small businesses cite are facing them is the fact that time is finite; there is simply not enough time in the day—or night—to get everything done.
Small Businesses Pressed for Time
Small business challenges with time are not from lack of time spent working. One-quarter of entrepreneurs log 60 hours a week. One-third work more than 50 hours a week. 70 percent work at least one weekend on a regular basis. Squeezing more time out of an increasingly compressed schedule is simply not feasible. Thus, it makes sense that time management is listed as the third most pressing challenge by small businesses in a recent study.
In response, many small businesses are turning to virtual receptionists for assistance. The ability to allocate more time to the business strategy and customers and just as importantly to personal maintenance are just some of the reasons small businesses elect to use virtual receptionists.
Business Issues Drive Need for Virtual Receptionists
But beyond there not being enough time to do everything, there are a couple of evolving business factors that demonstrate the need for small business virtual receptionists.
1. Culture of Immediacy.
We live in a culture of immediacy and there is little tolerance for delays in response. Customers—both consumer and business—are accustomed to near real-time responses due to Amazon, eBay, Uber, Netflix, and other businesses. They expect fast responses to phone calls, emails, texts, and live web chat as well as by someone who can accurately answer their questions and solve their challenges.
2. Digital Innovation.
Digital transformation presents challenges to businesses of all sizes, and this is certainly true of small businesses. But with only so much time in the workday, small businesses simply are not able to take advantage of all the digital technologies at their disposal. Indeed, according to Deloitte, 80 percent are not taking full advantage of digital tools today.
Use Cases for Small Business Virtual Receptionists
Virtual assistants offer small businesses a means for addressing these business trends. The following are some of the most prevalent use cases when it comes to how small businesses can benefit from virtual receptionists:
1. Answering Incoming Calls.
Incoming calls—whether from customers, prospects, partners, or other third-party businesses—can be a huge interruption and distraction for a small business. Plus, pushing important phone calls into voice mail and forcing customers or prospects to wait on a response can deliver the wrong experience—customers and prospects can quickly become frustrated and go elsewhere with their business. A virtual receptionist enables small businesses to vet incoming calls, routing those that require a real-time response to the appropriate member of the team and others to voice mail.
2. Responding to Email.
Email can consume valuable time. Having a virtual receptionist who can filter through incoming email, prioritize those that are important, and route email to the respective members of the team. This ensures customers get answers quickly and accurately without burdening the small business with the time-consuming task of sifting through incoming emails.
3. Engaging via Text and Live Chat.
Customer no longer only seek to engage with businesses through traditional channels such as phone. Rather, in many instances, they prefer to use digital channels like live web chat or email. For sales and service functions, many small businesses are offloading those to virtual receptionists. And without the assistance of virtual receptionists, these digital tools would likely be untapped for many small businesses that simply do not have the wherewithal to hire and train staff to manage them.
4. Managing Schedules and Calendars.
It takes a lot of time and energy to schedule meetings and manage calendars—especially when multiple professionals are involved. Add the complexities of coordinating schedules and calendars for customers, prospects, and partners, and the job becomes even more difficult. Virtual receptionists can help with these as well, offloading the responsibility from a small business and giving the team valuable time back to spend on other non-administrative activities.
5. Sending Outbound Sales Emails and Calls.
Small businesses are resource constrained and business fluctuates. Thus, in some cases, small businesses are turning to virtual receptionists for sales support; they can send emails and make calls to prospects and customers. This enables small businesses to scale their business without adding permanent sales headcount. It also allows them to handle seasonal spikes and unexpected surges in business.
6. Planning and Managing Events.
Virtual receptionists are great resources for planning and managing events—whether they involve just internal team members or include external participants. As events often do not occur regularly and on a consistent basis, it does not make sense for a small business to hire a full- or part-time staff member to manage them. Virtual receptionists give small businesses the scale and flexibility to execute successful events.
While other use cases such as marketing and blog support and project management could be cited, the six above virtual-receptionist use cases are a great starting point for a small business. among others could be cited.