What is a Virtual Receptionist and other frequently asked questions about our services
We have spoken to thousands of small business owners and most will have had similar questions to you. The questions typically cover what is a virtual receptionist, what are the receptionist hours, how do I divert calls and how long does it takes to set up,
Hopefully the note below will give you the information you need quickly, but you can always call us to talk through the information and your particular requirements.
Call us now on 01628 460 230
What is a virtual receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a real person who will answer your calls in your company name. It will sound to the caller as though the receptionist is in your office, creating the image of a professional and larger business. There are a range of services in the market from large message taking call centers to a virtual pa who may only deal with four or five clients and have a detailed knowledge of the business and diary. We aim to provide a service tailored to the needs of many small businesses of up to five people. The receptionist has a screen of information about your business to sound professional but would not be able to answer detailed questions. Instead they will suggest to that they take a message and will get the best person to call them back. The message is sent to immediately at the end of the call.
What hours do the receptionists work?
Our virtual receptionist hours are 0830 to 1800 Monday to Friday which meets the needs of many small businesses. As standard any callers out of hours will hear a simple message stating that the office is now closed.
If you expect to get calls out of hours we can provide a voicemail to email system with a greeting in your company name for £7.50 per month where the caller can leave a message. The voicemail is sent to you immediately as an attachment to an email.
How long does it take to set up?
We need up to 24 hours to set up a new call answering account. We have to provision a new telephone number that is unique to your account and configure the receptionist system with your company details so the receptionist knows how to handle calls. Finally we will make a test call and send you a test message before confirming everything is live.
What is the set up charge for?
We incur real costs in setting up a new account. We could increase the subscription slightly to cover this and not have a set up charge but we would need to change our simple one month rolling agreement, and more importantly it penalises the customers who stay with us for a long period. So it seemed fairer to cover our costs with a set up charge, keep the subscription price down, and have a simple one month rolling agreement.
Can I keep my existing telephone number?
Yes. If you have an established telephone number for your business you can divert calls to us when you want us to answer. There are a several different ways of diverting calls and it also depends on the type of telephone line or phone system you have. If you have ever diverted your calls to your mobile then it is exactly the same process. If you are not sure how to divert calls please give us a call and we can help.
How do I divert telephone calls to you?
There are a number of ways to divert your calls so we have provide some more detail on our page how to divert phone calls.
If I get a new telephone number am I tied into your services?
We can provide telephone numbers and these are separate from our call answering service so the simple answer is no, you are not tied in.
The simplest approach which is suitable for many new companies is that we provide an 0844 number. If you no longer need the telephone answering service at some point in the futrue you can have the 0844 number pointed at any UK landline meaning you can answer calls without any ongoing charges. This is important if you have printed the number on business cards and customers have got used to it.
As an alternative to an 0844 number we can provide any 01 or 02 area code number in the country or 0800 numbers. These do have a cost implication, typically £10 per month, but this is cheaper than having a new BT line installed. You can end the telephone answering service and just keep the telephone number, but you would need to continue to pay the £10 per month subscription to keep the number live.
Is there an extra charge for sending messages by text?
We charge 10 pence per text message. Over the last couple of years the number of people wanting a text message has gone down because so many people have immediate access to emails on a Blackberry, iPhone or other smart phone. There is a cost to us of having a text messaging system so it is fairer to make a small charge to the people that want a text message.
Is there a long contract?
No. We are happy to operate our call answering service and virtual office Manchester service with a one month rolling agreement with no long term commitments. If you no longer need the telephone answering service we ask that you let us know by the 25th of the month, otherwise the agreement rolls over for another month.
Do you require a deposit or payment for several months up front?
We do not normally ask for a deposit nor do we ask for several months up front. Instead we monitor new accounts closely and we may issue an interim invoice half way through the month if your usage is higher than average. This helps us with credit control and it avoids busier customers getting a bigger bill than expected at the end of the month.
This is a good question if you are comparing providers. Some may look cheaper per month but if you have to pay a deposit or pay for calls in advance it is not going to help your cashflow.
Is there an application form that needs to be filled in?
There is no application form for setting up a telephone answering account. About half of our new customers call us to ask some questions and we can take their details over the telephone if they want to proceed. The other half prefer to ask any questions by email and then order the service through our website. Either way we will confirm the details of what we are going to provide in an email and will state that the order is accepted according to our Terms and Conditions.
We do have a simple credit application form if you want to move onto paying monthly invoices by direct debit which needs to be signed along with a direct debit mandate form. Let us know if you would like to pay by direct debit.
Overall we like to be easy to do business with. Please have a read of Our Background on our home page.