I love our Virtual Reception service. It’s great for us (LongerDays), but it’s also one of the easiest things for our clients to delegate, and it saves them a lot of time…
Being a full scale virtual assistant company, we are able to offer a LOT more than traditional virtual reception companies, but this post isn’t about all we can do (keep an eye out for that post in the near future), this is a chance to step behind the curtain to learn about how we do it!
How much information do you need to get started?
We first gather frequently asked questions by callers. Often times our clients have an FAQ on their website, along with a lot of other information we can use. In addition to FAQs, we ask for access to any sites we will need to help callers. This most often includes a customer service email account, and a sometimes a shopping cart login for looking up orders, resolving declined credit card payments, placing orders, and issuing refunds.
Generally, these basic things are all we need to get started on a phone line. The point in the beginning is not to know everything, it’s to know the answers to the most common questions.
Caller: “Do you have product XYZ?”
LD Agent: “One moment while I check to see if we have that in stock.” [looks it up on website or in the shopping cart]
Or another example:
Caller: “Can you tell me about ABC service?”
LD Agent: “Sure thing!” [Insert the information from the website]
If we come up against a question that we can’t answer, we can say something along the lines of:
“Let me find out the answer to that question and give you a call back. Before I do that, do you have any other questions I can help you with?”
We then go to the client with our questions, learn the answers, add the answers to our knowledge base, and deliver the answers back to the customers. Through this process, we can expand our knowledge, provide great customer service, and ask for very little time commitment from our clients.
How do we know what business a caller is calling for?
We assign a unique phone number for the client (business) to forward all of their calls to. When this unique phone number rings, we know what business it is for – simple as that!
Do we assign a dedicated virtual receptionist?
Yes. We actually assign a small group – 2 to 3 people, sometimes more depending on call volume – to learn your specific business. This team of virtual receptionists is intimately familiar with the needs of your unique business. They will learn the products, the customers, the company policies, and any other specific knowledge needed to provide an exceptional customer experience.
What happens if my dedicated receptionist leaves LongerDays?
Every task we do starts with a solution – a detailed document of each and every step of a task – and phone lines are no different. Your phone line’s solution contains relevant links, background information, special instructions, where to send messages, appropriate extensions for call forwarding, and so on. Every company we work with is unique, so every solution is a little bit different!
The solution is a guide for how to answer a line. What should we say when they pick up a call? How should the receptionist refer to the client and/or the business?
All of this combines into something more than a typical “answer and forward” reception service. We get to know your business and customers – but even more importantly, we make detailed documentation so ANY of our receptionists can step in, train up, and provide excellent service for your clients and/or customers – even if they’ve never touched the line before.
How do we keep track of everything?
For every reception client, we keep log of incoming calls, the nature of the call, and any action taken. This allows the entire team to get a sense of the most common issues or orders, have a quick reference for any repeat customers, and helps keep track of unresolved issues.
We keep these call logs whether or not our clients ask us to, but if you want us to share, we’re more than happy to!
How do we distribute calls among the team?
We have experimented with a number call distribution methods: sequential, blast, and our method of choice, Round Robin.
First, a little background (forgive me for getting a little technical here):
Sequential (receptionist 1, then receptionist 2, then 3) leaves a caller stuck listening to a ringing phone as the system rings each receptionists in order (regardless of whether or not they’re already on a call). It also means that the majority of the calls end up being answered by receptionist 1, who gets an unequal share of experience on the line.
The next type, “ring all” or “blast,” means that all of the receptionists’ phones ring at the same time when call comes in. Unfortunately, this causes some confusion – and naturally, a little bit of hesitation – because a receptionist can’t help but look up to see if anyone else is making a move to answer the phone.
The third option, Round Robin, is the method that makes the most sense for our staff AND our clients. “Round Robin with memory” provides equal call distribution by moving the most recent call recipient to the back of the line – like this: 123, 231, 312, 123. That means that when a receptionist’s phone rings, they know it’s their turn to to pick it up.
Round Robin will only ring to people available to answer. If a receptionist is on a call, it simply goes to the next person in line. This means no hesitation or confusion, no uneven distribution, shorter ring times, and most importantly, a better experience for the caller.
It’s the best method for everyone involved.
What happens if everyone on my team is on a call?
We have a backup phone system in place. It’s no secret that voicemail is on its way out. For that reason, we feel that it’s always better to have a real live person answer the phone than it is to send someone to voicemail (although, all of our lines come with free VM boxes too).
If your entire team of receptionists is busy, the call goes to our in-house answering service. We greet the caller in a friendly, professional manner and take a basic message.
No matter what line or what client, we take this approach to put our best foot forward for your clients and customers. A smiling, warm receptionist is better than a robotic voicemail message any day of the week!
LongerDays: reception + assistance
Reception services are a particular point of pride for us – because it really is so much more than simple reception. Our goal is to create a seamless connection between you and your callers, one that provides your customers and clients with an impeccable overall experience. With LongerDays, reception + assistance makes our team a one stop shop for customer satisfaction.