10 Essential Skills a Professional Virtual Receptionist Needs to Master
Being a virtual receptionist is a highly undervalued and underestimated profession. We have to constantly be on guard; ready for anything with a cheerful smile on our face and helpful demeanor. We work hard at 3 pm and 3 am; during weekends and holidays. We field emergency calls for hospitals and book table reservations for well-known restaurants. Basically, we’re like superheroes for all telephonic tasks.
If you’re shopping around for your own superhero receptionist, take a look at the top 10 essential skills to focus on during your hunt.
What You Should Look For in a Virtual Receptionist
1. Outgoing and Friendly
The most important skill all telephone agents need is a friendly, upbeat and outgoing personality. Since we’re responsible for providing a memorable experience for all incoming callers, we always have to remain positive and on point when that phone rings.
When interviewing potential virtual receptionists and/or answering services, pay close attention to how friendly and approachable they are.
2. Professional and Pleasant
Of course you need a representative to exude professionalism with all of your callers. Your receptionist is an extension of your brand and needs to present your company in a positive and pleasant light.
An overlooked telecommunication’s skill is using the proper use of tone over the telephone. “Customer service departments need to focus on the 45% of verbal communication that is transmitted over the telephone. While a carefully written script can be helpful, it only accounts for 7% of Mehrabian’s communication likability rule. Since the actual tone and delivery of what is said accounts for 38%, it’s very important that your customer service telephone agents keep their tones in mind.”
Master your customer service department’s tone of voice by reading our recently published article, Receptionist Etiquette Tips: Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service.
3. Focused and Attentive to Details
No matter if you have an onsite or offsite receptionist, you need to make sure he or she is highly detail-oriented. There’s nothing worse than receiving a hot lead’s phone inquiry only to realize that your assistant took down the wrong number. Skilled virtual receptionists are trained to confirm the spelling of a caller’s name, contact information and phone message.
Since call center agents handle the incoming calls for multiple businesses, it’s imperative that whoever you hire is extremely focused on the details; no matter how small they seem.
4. Creative and Solutions-Oriented
Here at the call center, one of the things we love about our job is the suspense and mystery of answering telephones. You never know who is going to call on what line and so, every call is an opportunity for something new, fun and exciting.
Toward that end, sometimes it gets a little intense and unqualified receptionists lean on the horrible statement of, “I don’t know.” Those are three words your callers despise hearing when they call your business.
Train your receptionist to always be seeking out an efficient solution to a caller’s chief problem. Little gestures can go a long way with confused or exasperated customers.
5. Savvy in Caller Control
Caller control is a set of techniques and tactics to guide a caller through a conversation towards a satisfying end goal. This skill is truly an art form that requires training and practice in order to work effectively.
When used properly, a virtual receptionist will leave the customer feeling fully satisfied in just a short amount of time. Done incorrectly, your customer will feel rushed and unheard. The goal is to use active listening to frame questions that will assist you in reaching the purpose of the customer’s call.
6. Trained in Conflict Resolution
One of the reasons a business owner would want to hire a digital call center is the ability to outsource their customer service department. Handling customer complaints is truly a tough task. That’s why contracting out the work to an expert is always recommended.
Highly skilled virtual receptionists are able to:
- • Have thick skin and not take negative calls personally;
- • Control their responses to irate callers;
- • Empathize with their callers for a more endearing response;
- • Offer a sincere apology; and,
- • Reach an amicable resolution to the call.
Make sure your applicants are experienced in handling negative feedback and complaints before handing over your business lines.
7. Empathetic and Compassionate
It’s important to know that empathy and compassion are two different experiences. “Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action.”
Virtual receptionists need to be skilled in both empathy and compassion when handling the calls for a variety of businesses. Here at A Courteous Communications, our agents answer for medical professionals, hospice facilities, suicide and bully hotlines. We have a great deal of responsibility in providing compassionate call handling 24-hours a day.
You never know who is on the other end of the telephone and what problems or pains they’re experiencing. As such, your receptionist needs to be compassionate with a kind nature.
8. Comfortable in Stressful Situations
An 8-hour shift can be smooth sailing for a telephone agent or it can be a mashup of high volume calls coming in every second. It’s imperative that virtual receptionists are able to keep their cool during fast-paced and taxing situations.
Stress Management Society shares an informative quiz that is geared towards gauging someone’s stress levels. Take the quiz for yourself and if satisfied with the results, have your receptionist candidates submit to the quiz.
9. Ability to Switch Calls Effortlessly
Virtual receptionists are responsible for answering the phone line for ABC Plumbing one minute; then assisting a caller for the Law Offices of John Smith in the next minute. Skilled telephone handlers are able to switch those calls with ease and extreme focus to the immediate task at hand.
This skill is essential for all professional virtual receptionists. Put your candidates to the test and see how quick they can switch calls and conversations.
10. Night and Weekend Availability
One of the main advantages of hiring a virtual receptionistis the ability to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to your customers. As such, an ideal offsite receptionist will have flexible working hours.
Since business answering services employ a whole team of telephone agents, this isn’t so much a skill as it is a necessary requirement. Nevertheless, always make sure you confirm the round the clock availability of all receptionist candidates.
Does Your Virtual Receptionist Candidate Measure Up?
We hope this list of 10 skills virtual receptionists need will help you on your quest to finding the perfect match for your business. If you want to stop shopping around and go with a 30-year-old award winning answering service you can trust, give us a call. We can help.
Check our standard answering rates here or give us a call at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist today.