The difference between Virtual Assistants and Call Answering Services

Having positive voice-to-voice communication with a client, or potential client, is one of the most powerful marketing tools that exists in your client service arsenal. This makes the person who regularly answers your incoming calls one of the most important people in your team. There is a vast difference between having a system in place to ensure not missing a call and consciously using every incoming call as an opportunity to support a company’s professional image, build rapport with clients and maintain an excellent service ethic.

We take a look at what call answering options are out there – and which is the best.

What is a call answering service

An outsourced answering service is a service where a third-party company takes and relays messages on behalf of a business. Answering service agents typically act as an in-house receptionist, but they can also act as an after-hours assistant to ensure a company does not miss phone calls.

How does a call centre answering service differ?

A key difference between a “straight up” answering service and one from a call center lies in the potential for scripting various call responses. A call center has the facility to use complex scripts to answer frequently asked questions. And they can qualify leads or manage other types of communication such as email.

What are the benefits of having an external call answering service?

  • Never missing a call
  • Always having a message taken
  • They are able to handle large call volumes if need be
  • Not having in-office staff who take turns to pick up a call being sidetracked from more important tasks
  • Cost-efficient though eliminating the need for an in-house receptionist
  • Consistent professionalism that enhances your company image

What are the downsides of using an external call answering service?

  • Not having this touch point to build relationships with clients
  • Language barriers or accents that affect communication
  • A lack of in-depth understanding of the business
  • Misunderstanding when conveying complex information
  • Challenges when handling unique customer inquiries
  • Not having important messages prioritised
  • Non-employees who have not signed an NDA being privy to sensitive information

Utilising your Virtual Assistant to answer your calls is the quality choice

Virtual Assistants bring all the benefits while eliminating the downside of using a call answering service. Here are six ways in which a VA is the best quality option:

  1. Versatility: As an integral member of your team, your Virtual Assistant can answer calls, take accurate messages, handle inbound queries and even qualify leads for you. Or they can simply take a message and email you the details, flagging the messages’ level of importance.
  2. Flexibility: You can choose to have your VA answer all calls during office hours on certain days, and on others you can simply have them cover the phone for you while you are in meetings.
  3. Personalised service: Clients feel valued when an upbeat person answers their call and immediately recognises their voice. Your VA can greet the caller, make them feel like their call is welcome, answer questions, take a message or route the caller swiftly to your phone if you are available.
  4. Establishes rapport and trust: Rapport is built when the same friendly, yet professional person answers the phone every time.
  5. Professionalism: The brand image and your company values are supported when your VA deals with a first-time caller query with knowledge and insight born of understanding your business.
  6. Cost-effective: There are some setup costs, as the VA will have to set up a dedicated line for you but the ongoing costs are quite reasonable. However, digital technology has expanded so that the geographic location of a virtual receptionist today is of little consequence.

And, of course, your experienced VA does not have to only serve your business as a virtual receptionist – they can simultaneously handle your administration and other tasks that will free up your valuable time so you can focus on growing your business.