Customer Service Representative - Cartoon Illustration.

Both an answering service and a virtual receptionist are ways to have your incoming calls answered offsite. So, what’s the difference between the two? When businesses are looking to outsource their call handling they often consider answering services or a virtual receptionist. Knowing the difference between them will help you choose which one is best for your company.

Answering services typically handle basic inquiries and message taking. Virtual receptionists, however, offer a broader range of services. This includes direct call transfers and personalized customer interactions.

Choosing the right service depends on your specific needs for customer engagement and the level of interaction required.

What Does an Answering Service Do?

Answering service agent.

First, let’s be clear about what an answering service does. An answering service traditionally takes calls for businesses and passes along any messages.

Callers get to speak with a real person. This helps the company using the answering service enhance their customer service, and capture more leads. Everyone is happy.

Call answering services can be used after hours, on weekends, or during the day. They can also be used while you’re on vacation or any time on a 24/7/365 basis.

In recent years, answering services have come a long way. They can now offer much more than simply taking a message and delivering it to the business. They have the capability to deliver messages via email, text, and secure web portals. They can do other things too, like appointment setting services and order taking.

There are even some call centers that even specialize in bilingual answering services (English/Spanish).

What Does a Virtual Receptionist Do?

Virtual receptionist.

A virtual receptionist is basically an answering service on steroids. Virtual receptionists can do all the things that a good answering service can do. Plus, they have some bonus capabilities.

A virtual receptionist is someone who answers your phones for you. But instead of sitting in your office, they sit in a call center. So when a call comes in that your virtual receptionist handles, they act as an extension of your business. This creates a professional image for your company.

They can answer phone calls and answer basic questions for callers about your business. They can also take messages, conduct appointment scheduling, and take orders for merchandise much like an answering service can.

Here is the big piece that differentiates between answering services and virtual receptionist services. A live virtual receptionist can transfer callers to the person in your business they need to speak with.

They can do a transfer one of two ways. They either do what’s called a blind transfer, where they just put the incoming caller through to the person they want to talk to, and the phone then  rings on the other end.

Or a virtual receptionist can do a warm transfer. This is where they get the person on the line and introduce the call before exiting the conversation.

Virtual Receptionist Training

Virtual receptionists undergo incredibly thorough training on your account so they can be a natural extension of your business. Call centers will normally train several agents to seamlessly handle your account. This ensures your business has dedicated virtual receptionist coverage whenever you need it.

This training includes detailed familiarization with your company’s products, services, and customer service protocols. Moreover, ongoing training sessions ensure that virtual receptionists stay updated with any changes in your business operations or offerings.

Such comprehensive preparation guarantees that your callers receive knowledgeable and consistent support, enhancing your company’s professional image.

Choosing the Right Service for Your Business

Six answering service agents.

When deciding between an answering service and a virtual receptionist, consider your specific needs for customer engagement and the level of interaction required. Answering services are great for basic call handling, while virtual receptionists offer a more comprehensive approach.

To learn more about the differences between an answering service and a virtual receptionist, please contact AnswerMTI. We’re here to help enhance your business communication and customer service strategy. This allows you to discover which is right for your business.

Live Answering and Virtual Receptionist Services From AnswerMTI

Communication support, call center and customer service help desk. VOIP headset for customer service support.

Our team is available to provide detailed explanations and recommendations based on your specific business requirements. We also offer custom plans that can be tailored to fit the unique needs of your business. This ensures maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Let us help you streamline your communications and improve your customer interactions with our expert live answering services. Give us a call at 844-798-1027 to discuss phone answering services or virtual answering services for your business today.