The rise of virtual assistance technology like Alexa and Google Assist coincides with the rise of virtual receptionists. Virtual assistants are now commonplace in many industries. The global virtual assistance industry had an $800 million market valuation in 2015. Moreover, it is projected that the market will experience a 34.9% growth rate until 2024, with the industry attaining a projected market value of over $7.5 billion.
Another expected trend in the virtual assistance industry is an increase in the number of players. As people get used to interacting with and talking to machines, you can expect more and more companies to create their own offerings. For instance, major VoIP providers such as Vonage have virtual receptionist services in offer.
Moving forward, business owners will have to determine whether to go for virtual assistance or opt for the traditional route. Click here to learn more about the services on offer. In this read, we will explore the benefits and demerits of using virtual receptionists with the aim of helping you determine the best choice for your business.
Types Of Virtual Receptionists
While understanding the pros and cons of virtual assistants is important, it is equally important to understand the different types of virtual assistants. Live Virtual receptionist is the type of virtual assistance involving a human receptionist working remotely rather than at the office space. This is a real person rendering assistance. For this type of virtual assistance, the main defining characteristic is the remote location of the assistant.
Another form of virtual assistance is an automated receptionist who greets callers with a recorded menu option. This allows callers to choose an option and the virtual assistant implements your choice. For instance, this may involve going to a menu option for credit card number submission or forwarding your caller to a human being you can talk to.
The third type of virtual assistants is fully automated virtual receptionists. These are machines that have the capability to interpret human voice while giving programmed responses. In many regards, these virtual call centers work in a similar fashion as Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri.
One of the biggest draws to virtual assistance is the cost saving businesses can make. A live virtual assistant tends to cost far less than the traditional option owing to a number of factors. For starters, a live virtual assistant is billed for the number of hours they actually work answering calls, which can be scaled to meet your needs. With the traditional full-time in-house assistant, they are paid a full-time salary despite their number of calls they answer.
With automated and live assistance, you avoid paying some benefits and paying for the overhead to accommodate an assistant. By deploying the automated assistant named Olivia Greet, Sysix Technologies cut their receptionist cost by as much as 73%
Since automated virtual assistants can work uninterrupted, they can answer calls, which would have otherwise been missed. Adriana Lopez, a Forbes contributor reckons that 80% of the caller sent to voice do not leave a message.
Virtual assistants improve efficiency. Delegating call-answering to a virtual assistant allows businesses to handle far more calls. This allows businesses to focus their main work.
A virtual assistant can also improve a company’s professional image and brand. When companies are answered by sophisticated automation system and trained specialists, customers and clients perceive the company to be more professional.
Cost is a major benefit that companies can accrue from using virtual assistants. However, it can also be a con, especially for smaller companies, who can do just fine without one. Given the cost of virtual assistance ranges from $1.25 per minute to $2.59 per minute, it can be costly for small businesses.
There is also a risk of customer dissatisfaction. Consumer Reports poll indicate that in the U.S. the most prominent customer services complaint is being unable to reach a human being.
There is a risk of lack of flexibility. Remote virtual assistants operate mainly a set of scripted answers. Moreover, they may lack intricate knowledge of a business to address certain issues and topics. Lack of flexibility is exacerbated by the inherent rigidity of automated virtual assistants. They operate with and provide pre-programmed menu options.
Finally, you need to be cognizant of the fact that a virtual assistant can only perform limited tasks such as answering phone calls. They cannot perform the duties that a traditional receptionist can; they cannot file documents, type, or greet live visitors.
Evaluating Your Options
The best choice of assistance will depend on a variety of factors, including the number of calls you receive, the types of calls you get, and the budget you have for assistance.
As a priority, consider the types of calls you get. Determine the types of calls that can be automated and the types of tasks that require a live person. The next bit is to estimate to the best of your ability the number of calls you get and the number of minutes each type of calls takes you to answer.
For a more accurate estimation, track the call you get over a period of 1 week. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of where and if you automate calls. Tracking the number of minutes it takes to answer the various types of calls will help you estimate the overall cost of the virtual assistant.
Finally, compare the different options available and make an informed decision.