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Outsourced vs. Local Reception Services: A Comparison

By Billy McCall   |    July 9, 2018   |    3:57 PM

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Reception Services

When choosing reception services, businesses have no shortage of options. You could hire a full time, in-person team member to captain the front desk and hold down the fort, but that’s hardly the only option when deciding between reception options.

Nowadays, many businesses are opting for more modern reception solutions. These services provide an ideal way to balance costs with the true needs of the organization, whether you need part-time or full-time assistance. However, not all reception services are created equal.

Some business owners choose an outsourced solution (with receptionists from around the country and/or world), while others choose to outsource to more local providers with customized on-boarding procedures.

If you aren’t sure which choice is best for your company, here's your guide to choosing reception services.

Pros and cons of a traditional outsourced reception service

When most business owners think about working with an outsourced reception service, they imagine a traditional call center environment. Some perks to this option include:

  • A low cost-per-call — these options tend to be affordable.
  • If all you need is someone to take down and relay simple messages, these types of services can be a good fit.
  • 24/7 availability.

On the contrary, there are some true downsides to utilizing reception services from a call center or similar agency:

  • Receptionists generally lack in-depth training and expertise in your industry, which limits the level of assistance that can be provided to callers.
  • Callers can often sense that they aren’t speaking to a representative of the company (whether due to language barriers or lack of subject expertise), which erodes trust and credibility in your organization.
  • Receptionists are unable to do much more than answer the phone and take messages.
  • Huge turnover. Staffing changes at call centers are as frequent as the public perception, so your business does not experience continuity.

Pros and cons of a local reception service

On the other side of the coin you have local reception services, or virtual receptionists. The main con with this option is the cost — while still surprisingly affordable, a more personalized solution will cost more. Another potential downside is the upfront time commitment needed to successfully on-board your new virtual team member. While some providers (like Intelligent Office) offer comprehensive training, you’ll still need to get a virtual receptionist up to speed on the specifics of your business operations.

For many businesses, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives:

  • Due to localized training, callers will always feel like they’re speaking to someone who “gets” them.
  • When a virtual receptionist can’t answer a question, it’s easy for them to say, “That’s a great question, let me check on that and get back to you.” They’re part of your team, so they know who to turn to for answers.
  • Get your messages right away, as they come in. You can have them emailed to your Inbox, sent over text, or whatever you prefer. Many outsourced reception services simply send a round-up at the end of the day.
  • If needed, virtual receptionists can handle other business tasks. Interviewing callers, sending follow-up information, and more are all possible.
  • Staff is much more likely to feel like an integral part of a team making a real difference, so the average tenure with local reception services is far higher than at a call center.

Which type of reception service is right for me?

Modern businesses need on-demand services that can meet their growing needs, and both reception services outlined here can theoretically meet that need.

However, if you’re looking for a local and personalized solution that can truly grow with your company, local reception services offer the flexibility and skills you need. To learn more about hiring a virtual receptionist and everything they can do to help your business grow, read this helpful guide.