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These companies provide virtual receptionist services and phone support. Basically, you give the person a script and they answer your phone when you cannot. You can ask them to make appointments for you in your calendar, gather information and answer basic questions. If the person wants to leave a voicemail, you can usually have it emailed to you as a voice-to-text or an attached sound file. They can also fill out custom forms you create when a potential customer calls, so you get the exact info you need to evaluate a client to start the relationship off right (or to say no and your time is not wasted). You generally pay by the minute or call, so you can set it up to just answer when you’re away from the office or after hours, or under certain conditions.
Solos or small firms with high-value clients are the usual businesses that pay for these services, because they are not cheap. Lawyers, doctors, tax professionals, financial specialists, insurance brokers, consultants and other people who work alone or in small firms but also are required to be out of the office to meet clients or go somewhere. For example, if you’re in court you can’t answer the phone, and the person calling will just go to the next phone number in line and you’ll miss out on them as a client. Paying a service to take down a name and contact information until you can call them back is worth its weight in gold to certain businesses.
It also helps keep current clients happy during busy times when you can’t answer the phone, as they can schedule appointments on your calendar and make outbound calls to clients to gather data or make appointments. Some of them provide support in multiple languages, and all of them can do chat support as well. All of them can also screen your calls, so you never get a spam call again, and they can screen out freeloader clients and nut-jobs (I’m looking at you criminal & divorce lawyers). For this reason, services often give you calls lasting less than 15 seconds free.
Additionally, a group of small businesses in an office share arrangement or a suite could also pay for one of these services and share the cost.
- Ruby Receptionists: Probably the most well-known company, they provide virtual phone support and also 24/7 chat specialists.
- Moneypenny: named after the receptionist in the Bond films, they let you try it for free for a week. They also tout their ability to have the same person answer the phone, which pleases some customers. Based in the U.K. with U.S. employees.
- Smith.ai: Lawyer focused (but they do other businesses too) it can interface with a lot of legal software. They have a free trial.
- Gabbyville: They have a free trial and offer bilingual (Spanish) services on all their plans.
- AbbyConnect: 14-day free trial, they can also provide bilingual receptionists and can interact with legal and other software.
- Back Office Betties: They only provide services to law firms.
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