This article was provided by our partners at Alliance Virtual Office and may contain affiliate links.

2021 is proving to be the year that small businesses prove their strength and resiliency.

Companies are consolidating the lessons they’ve learned over the past year and are adapting to the fast-changing business landscape as restrictions continue to ease.

A survey of U.S. finance leaders by Sage, ‘2021 Return to Growth Outlook’, found that 73% of SMBs expect to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels by the end of 2021. It found that many small-and-medium-sized businesses have found success by accelerating digital transformation efforts and embracing new remote policies and strategies.

Cloud-based solutions, remote work, digital transformation, new software: all these requirements were, for the most part, forced upon companies during the pandemic, owing to widespread office closures and shelter-in-place orders.

Yet these processes could now pave the way for a stronger future, as they enable companies to save money while helping teams to work more efficiently.

Embracing Flexibility and Virtual Services

What’s crucial as we go forward towards 2022 is that small businesses remain as flexible as possible. For many, that means adopting a flexible, hybrid work strategy and utilizing virtual services to enable staff to stay focused and work productively.

One way to do this is to outsource certain services to relieve pressure on your core team.

For instance, did you know that you can outsource customer service?

If you’re one of the 4.4 million new businesses that started during the pandemic, you may not have a dedicated customer service professional in your team. Or perhaps you do, but recent growth means your front of house team is stretched — and excess calls are left to voicemail or handled by whoever is available.

This ‘firefighting’ approach often leaves customers feeling underserved and undervalued.

At a time when businesses are getting back on their feet and competition is rising, you can’t afford to upset your best customers.

That’s why some companies are incorporating a live receptionist service.

What is a live receptionist service?

A live receptionist service is provided by a team of receptionists who work remotely. They provide front-of-house services such as call answering, customer service, call rerouting, message taking, and calendar management.

Receptionists utilize a specially designed telecommunications system which enables them to recognize who the caller wants to reach based on the number they have dialed. That way, the receptionist can answer the call in the company name and work with the caller as if they are a permanent member of the team.

And because live receptionists work on behalf of multiple clients, this resource-sharing model keeps service costs low.

It’s a personal yet cost-efficient approach, as companies don’t need to hire a full-time member of staff to cover the phone. Instead, they typically pay for live receptionist services in blocks of minutes.

For example, prices for Alliance’s Live Receptionist service range between $95 for 50 minutes to $475+ for 500 minutes.

That includes:

  • Professional, customized call answering in your company name from Monday to Saturday
  • Call screening and filtering, which blocks telemarketers, spam and robocalls
  • Connecting calls to specific people or departments
  • Taking messages when you and your associates are unavailable
  • Arranging call-backs and scheduling appointments using real-time calendar software
  • A business number with unlimited extensions and a VoIP phone system.

How can this service help companies adjust to the current normal?

A remote receptionist service can help organizations at different stages of growth and is used in many ways, such as:

  • To take the pressure off startups and enable the founder to focus on the business, rather than taking calls. This means callers are always given a friendly welcome and a professional service, even if the person they wish to speak to is unavailable.
  • A short-term solution to handle calls and enquiries while a full-time receptionist is hired and trained, often during a period of fast growth.
  • A longer-term strategy to take care of customer service and connect calls without the need for permanent front of house staff. This approach is often adopted by remote companies with a flexible workforce and a virtual office location.
  • An ‘overflow’ service for companies with a high volume of calls, or for specific enquiries.
  • To help new business owners adjust to the operational demands of running a business, and to get an idea of how many calls or what type of calls they receive daily.

A remote receptionist service can be used as a short-term basis or as an integrated part of the business model. Either way, it enables companies to operate more flexibly (and professionally) and only pay for what they need, which promotes cost efficiency.

One way or another, the pandemic has forced business leaders to think differently. By weaving greater flexibility into your business operations, you will be in a much stronger position to adapt and grow with new opportunities in 2021, and in the years to come.

Find out more about live receptionist services at www.alliancevirtualoffices.com.

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