Does Your Home-Based Startup Need a Virtual Receptionist?

Posted on April 25, 2018

You’ve launched your home-based startup. You’ve got the essentials – a product, a company name, maybe a website, a phone number, the business cards and a business plan (need help writing that, check out our previous post), now it’s time to start thinking about your culture and your customer service. When customers call in do you want them going to your voicemail or to a virtual receptionist?

Fielding the Phone

The most obvious benefit to keeping the phone directly linked to you would be cost savings. You won’t need to pay for a receptionist or a service. Indirectly, fielding the calls personally may say something about the type of business owner and customer service rep you plan to be. For many being able to get a direct line to their representative and not having to go through someone who doesn’t know them (or whom they don’t know), is a benefit. It’s a little bit more personable to be able to speak directly to the business owner.

While fielding the phone gives you the opportunity to be very hands on with your home-based startup and its clients, you may be taking on a bit too much. Additionally, if you’re often hitting the streets, in meetings, networking or otherwise unavailable; you may be frustrating your customers. It’s nice to be able to connect directly with your contact person, but not if you are constantly being redirected to voicemail and feel like your messages aren’t getting through.

A Receptionist Filter

Working with a virtual receptionist or a part-time person you hire in that role, your customers will be able to speak directly to a person every time they call. Plus, with certain services (or an employee if you go that route), you can instruct the receptionist to take immediate action to see to your clients’ needs. This will ensure timely delivery on their concerns. If they need a document sent over ASAP, the receptionist can take action on that, copying you and keeping you in the loop. If the issue is a little more complex and requires your attention, the receptionist can communicate an anticipated return time and get you the message (filtering out the low-level communications that don’t require your attention).

Receptionist Service vs. Assistant

Now, if you decide to invest in a receptionist, you need to decide which route to go. For a home-based startup, a virtual receptionist service is generally the go-to. You can contract with an outside company and provide the needed instructions. This is something you can do until your business is a little more established and you’ll have the money to invest in an employee who will have more responsibility than fielding the phones.

On the other hand, one of the best pieces of advice a client of ours received was to hire an assistant before they could truly afford to hire one. It doesn’t exactly seem logical, but hear us out. He said that by hiring an assistant earlier, it will free up your time to focus on making more money for your business. The assistant will be able to take on some of the low-level but necessary tasks, so you can stay laser-focused on the tasks that will generate more revenue. This will help make the startup more successful at a faster rate, thus you’ll be able to afford the assistant shortly after bringing them on board.

You will need to look at your business plan and goals as well as weigh your own strengths to make a decision. Perhaps in the beginning, you want to keep your business close to you and handle all the calls directly. Or maybe when you step back, you realize that you aren’t the best at communicating timely with customers and know that a receptionist or assistant would be better for the longevity of your business.

No matter your decision, make a choice early on so you can begin branding your business and customers know what to expect from you and your team.