*Disclosure: We earn commissions if you shop through the links below. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Whether you’re running a clinic, e-commerce business, or law firm, quality customer service demands efficiently dealing with a truckload of incoming phone calls. Handling that in-house can require considerable effort, thus straining your team. Thankfully, many businesses now leverage virtual receptionist services to ensure customer satisfaction.
Virtual receptionists help businesses handle incoming customer inquiries, appointment scheduling, process orders, and more so the company can focus on the more essential aspects of its operation. Virtual receptionist services are also referred to as live answering services.
But before reviewing them, let’s consider how a virtual receptionist can be a great addition to your business.
What does a virtual receptionist do?
A virtual receptionist can serve just like a regular receptionist in your company, sitting at the entrance, answering visitors’ queries, taking phone calls, booking appointments, and discharging other inbound services. However, the benefits of utilizing virtual receptionist services go far beyond that.
Many businesses today are remote, for example, e-commerce stores. Customers from around the globe might have questions about your services and pricing and want to call you. If their queries come at odd hours in your location, you may not immediately take those business calls and emails. Small businesses may also be unable to hire several in-house customer service representatives.
The best virtual receptionist service providers typically operate 24/7, so they can take incoming calls outside your business hours. Small businesses may also find them more affordable than hiring in-house staff. In addition, an excellent virtual receptionist will usually have bilingual receptionists catering to non-native English speakers.
For lawyers whose time is divided between court and client meetings, their law firm has much to gain by hiring an answering service.
What makes a good virtual receptionist service?
Aside from offering inbound services, top virtual receptionist services may also provide the following features:
- Outbound calling
- Scheduling appointments
- Call scripting
- Call recording
- Order processing
- Transferring calls
- Web chat
- Mobile app
- Reports and analytics based on data collected from the call.
We highlight the best virtual assistant services below. Remember to choose based on what works best for your needs.
Best virtual receptionist and answering services
We have carried out extensive research and, from our findings, selected the best virtual receptionist and answering services as listed below:
- Ruby Receptionists
- Smith AI
- Answering Legal
- Abby Connect Receptionists
- Davinci Virtual Office Solutions
- Unity Communications
Ruby, also called Ruby Receptionists, is a well-known live answering service that offers call routing, automated lead capture, live website chat, and several other advanced features.
One outstanding capability of their call center services is the call whisper, a feature that allows you to listen to a call between your virtual receptionist and a caller. You can communicate with the receptionist without the caller knowing. This can help ensure top-rated customer service as the virtual receptionist always has support.
- Conventional answering services
- Voice call support (call whisper)
- Appointment confirmation and outgoing calls
- Call routing to personal phone or another team member.
- Automated lead capture tool that collects data from website visitors and prospects
- Live chat
- Outbound calls for marketing campaigns
- Mobile app to keep you updated
- 24/7 call answering services
- Available 24/7/365
- Text from your business number
- Excellent Customer Support
- No call recording
- Bilingual receptionists only work during business hours.
- $230/month for 50 virtual receptionist minutes
- $365/month for 100 minutes
- $660/month for 200 receptionist minutes
- $1,595/month up to 500 receptionist minutes
*Best overall live answering service, check our Ruby’s review.
Smith.ai is one of the best telephone answering services for small businesses, offering AI-powered solutions for phone answering, following up with leads, appointment scheduling, and many other features. Spread throughout North America, the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai specialize in lead nurturing to convert prospects who contact you.
Smith.ai’s expertise typically lies with solopreneurs, boutique law firms, and other SMEs. Their fair pricing also makes them favorable among small businesses.
The artificial intelligence used by Smith.ai makes their services pretty much advanced and automated, and they have become a household name among business owners due to their tech solutions.
- 24/7 virtual receptionist service
- Live calls
- AI chatbots
- SMS Message taking
- Appointment scheduling
- Sending follow-up emails to prospects
- Blocking spam and sales calls
- CRM integration that automatically logs in calls, chats, payments, and appointments into your database
- Screening potential clients based on your criteria
- You can set up call priorities so that calls from specific numbers are handled specially
- Sales funnel performance tracker
- Google Analytics and Tag Manager integration
- Free AI Chatbot
- 24/7 Availability
- Some customers complained about the customer support not being responsive.
- Standard plans range from $255/month-$1170/month (30-180 calls, respectively).
- Custom plans are available if you wish to be more flexible.
- 14-day money-back guarantee
*Best for law firms and other types of businesses
Nexa is another excellent and popular virtual receptionist service that serves businesses of all sizes, especially insurance companies, home services, and the legal industry. One of their core distinguishing features is the tech infrastructure they boast of, which they claim promises more than 99.98% uptime. Notably, many users seem to be impressed.
Based in Phoenix, Nexa offers several virtual receptionist services, from traditional answering services and appointment scheduling to lead qualification and basic IT support. Even when their tech solutions may be beyond your needs, you may realize how beneficial it is to have tech-savvy hands supporting your growth.
Nexa is known to train its virtual receptionists by industry to enable them to deliver professional customer service and exceptional experience while allowing clients to focus on business growth.
- Taking Phone calls
- Live chat/text messaging/email communication options.
- Lead qualification
- Scheduling appointments
- Outbound calls for sales and marketing campaigns
- 24/7 live answering service by bilingual agents
- Detailed reports from calls
- A mobile app where business owners can check data and insights based on calls.
- Comes with native integration with top CRMs
- Zapier integration makes it possible to connect with many other software programs.
- No Chatbot
- No Voicemail Transcription
- Pricing ranges from $239-$749/month (i.e., 100-500 call minutes).
- $90 Setup Fee.
- 21-day money-back guarantee
*Best live answering services for different type of businesses and industries
Answering Legal focuses on the legal industry, offering law firms some of the best virtual receptionist services. Answering Legal’s virtual receptionists may be the right guys for you if your law firm receives a high daily call volume. Their primary focus is answering customer calls and messages and rerouting them to your law office.
Answering Legal is exclusive to law firms, so if your business has nothing to do with the legal industry, this answering service shouldn’t be on your radar.
The most outstanding feature is its advanced call forwarding. You can set it so that the call comes through to you initially but will be forwarded to the virtual receptionist when you fail to pick it up. This gives you the flexibility of answering phone calls that are most important to you when you’re available.
- Calls answered 24/7
- Advanced call forwarding
- Scheduling consultations
- North America-based receptionists
- Taking messages
- Call screening, routing & prioritization
- Call recording & transcription.
- Outbound calls to follow up on leads or remind clients of consultations
- High-quality receptionists.
- No call analytics
- $250 for 100 call minutes.
- $398 for 200 call minutes costs.
- Get a custom quote according to your desired number of minutes.
- Free trial for 7 days.
- No contract and zero setup fees.
*Best for law firms and legal services
Abby Connect Receptionists
Based in Las Vegas, Abby Connect’s virtual receptionists offer call center services to small businesses looking to have a dedicated team of virtual receptionists. When you subscribe, you are instantly allocated a team of five to seven dedicated receptionists to answer your calls and messages.
The benefit here is that you’ll have a team that becomes highly knowledgeable about your business and clients, enabling them to create better customer experiences.
Abby Connect does a phenomenal job at call answering by allowing you to upload your own caller tunes to reflect your brand identity. In short, Abby Connect’s call-answering services focus on creating more personal experiences between businesses and their customers.
Although Abby Connect is one of the best call center services, it’s not the most affordable for small businesses, especially when you need 24-hour answering services. It also doesn’t offer a call routing function.
- The Abby Go mobile app lets you stay updated with virtual receptionists. However, the app is limited to text messaging.
- A call block feature to prevent sales and spam calls.
- Your virtual receptionist will provide basic info about your caller before transferring the call to you.
- Get answering services during business hours or pay extra for 24/7 coverage.
- Bilingual receptionists.
- Trained and dedicated virtual receptionists who also schedule appointments.
- 27/4 availability
- Cost Effective
- Flexibility and Customizable Service
- No Chatbot
- 100 receptionist minutes at $299 per month
- 200 receptionist minutes at $549 per month
- 500 receptionist minutes at $1,199 per month
- Free 14-day trial.
*Best small business answering services and live receptionists
Davinci Virtual Office Solutions
Davinci Virtual Office Solutions provides everything you expect from a modern business, from virtual office spaces to virtual receptionists. This is a call answering service to try if you’re looking for a virtual assistant to handle day-to-day admin tasks. That’s because when you subscribe to Davinci’s premium plan, you’re given access to dedicated virtual assistants who also manage travel arrangements, schedule appointments, data entry, etc.
However, you can stick with the business plan if you only need answering services.
Davinci offers no free trial and no 24/7 call answering service. The virtual receptionists only answer calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s not the best if you’re looking for off-business hours coverage.
- Mobile app to stay updated on calls and messages on the go
- Advanced call routing
- Hold conference calls with up to 99 participants.
- You can request a Global virtual office address in any location.
- They have a wide virtual office global network.
- No 24/7 live call answering services
- No free trial
- $129/month for 50 live answer minutes
- $239/month for 100 live answer minutes
- $249/month for 50 live answer minutes
- $319/month for 100 live answer minutes
*Best for remote businesses looking for answering services and virtual office services.
POSH Virtual Receptionists
POSH Virtual Receptionists is one of the most suitable live virtual receptionist services for small businesses, offering round-the-clock answering services at very affordable prices. Although the prices are a fraction of other top virtual receptionist services, they don’t compromise on quality.
Also, there are different pricing plans for your business needs and size, so there’s something for everyone.
Forward your calls to POSH Virtual Receptionists without changing your business phone number, and you’ll have all your calls answered by friendly agents. Their specialty isn’t limited as they touch multiple industries ranging from law firms and healthcare to marketing and real estate.
- 24/7 call center services
- Integrations with other popular business tools like Calendly, Zoho, and Hubspot.
- Outbound calling to remind clients of appointments
- A mobile up to always keep you in sync with your virtual receptionists
- Get message notifications on the app
- Customized call scripting
- 24/7 Availability
- Zapier and Calendly integration
- Call Analytics
- No Call Recording
They charge a $99 setup fee for starter & basic plans.
- $64/month for 0 receptionist minutes. ($1.99/ per minute)
- $94/month for 50 receptionist minutes.
- $154/month for 100 receptionist minutes.
- $284/month for 200 receptionist minutes.
- $684/month for 500 receptionist minutes.
*Best live answering services for small businesses
Unity Communications is among our list of best virtual receptionist services for its ability to take up several admin tasks, especially those specific to eCommerce businesses. Such duties include order processing, fulfillment, managing refunds and returns, bookkeeping, and call answering services. In short, they are a complete back office outsourcing company.
Unity Communications may be your best bet if you seek financial services like outsourcing accounting and call answering.
- Wide range of non-voice BPO and back office outsourcing
- Offering refund management, order processing, and data entry services, Unity Management is well-equipped for e-commerce businesses.
- Specialized in eCommerce call center services.
- Contact the team for a quote.
*Best for businesses looking for admin assist and accounting services.
PATLive offers friendly virtual receptionists who work 24/7 to give your customers outstanding first impressions. They answer inbound calls on your behalf, take messages, schedule appointments, and perform everything you’d expect from the best virtual receptionist services.
In addition to answering services, PATLive handles duties like lead generation, order processing, and event registration.
Whether you need help with call center services or back office outsourcing, you will find PATLive a reliable solution.
- 24/7 answering services
- A mobile app serves as an interface between you and your virtual receptionist.
- Get up to 10 business phone numbers.
- Order processing
- Get Spanish virtual assistants at an extra cost of $20
- They charge based on minutes, not calls.
- The starting cost is lower than that of some other providers.
- Extra cost for Spanish virtual receptionists.
- No Zapier integration
- Call recording & call transcription
- Appointment scheduling is available for certain plans only.
- Basic: $59/month at $2.25 per minute.
- Starter: $199/month for 75 receptionist minutes.
- Standard: $349/month for 200 receptionist minutes.
- Pro: $799/month for 600 receptionist minutes.
- Pro+: $1,279/month for 1000 receptionist minutes.
*Best Live answering service for small businesses
AnswerConnect is a call center services provider with US-based virtual receptionists all working remotely to cut costs on commuting, office space, and infrastructure.
With customized call scripts and routing, you can instantly ensure your most valuable customers contact you. In addition, their virtual receptionists are known for their friendliness and patience.
In short, AnswerConnect offers best-in-class answering services you can always rely on.
- Remote virtual receptionists save time and cost while facilitating flexibility.
- Top-tier mobile app to organize communications with prospects and clients.
- Round-the-clock call answering service, live chat support, lead collection, schedule appointments, etc.
- AnswerConnect integrates seamlessly with top project management and CRM tools like Zoho and Salesforce.
- You can contact the support team easily via a toll-free number or conversation bubble on the website.
- A free demo is available. Fill out a form on the website with your basic information and choose a plan to access it.
- They charge per minute, not by calls.
- A setup fee may be required.
- They charge spam calls.
- They don’t offer call screening, routing & prioritization.
- No Free trial or money-back guarantee.
- Contact customer support to get a quote.
*Best for a wide range of industries and businesses
Virtual receptionist services provide a brilliant opportunity for businesses to connect with new and existing customers personally, maintaining a professional image and creating outstanding impressions. Whether you’re a startup, boutique law firm, or e-commerce store, you have much to gain.
However, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. While some services may be too expensive for your budget, some can be overkill. So, when subscribing to a virtual receptionist service, consider all the features and only request those you need. You don’t want to pay for what won’t benefit your business.
Fortunately, some call center services will gladly offer a custom quote based on your needs.
Virtual Receptionist Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a virtual receptionist service?
A virtual receptionist offers call center services, including call answering, appointment scheduling, and other inbound services. In addition, they can handle an extensive range of admin tasks, depending on the plan you subscribe to.
Virtual receptionist services are also called answering services, live answering services, call center services, or virtual answering services.
Note that bots and auto-attendant programs may handle an answering service. On the other hand, a live virtual receptionist is a real human and, therefore, will be more effective in delivering personalized experiences to callers.
How does a virtual receptionist work?
When a call comes in, a virtual receptionist answers the phone on behalf of the business and handles the call according to the business’s instructions. This may involve taking a message, transferring the call to a specific person or department, or scheduling appointments. In addition, some call center services help with marketing campaigns, especially when working with a marketing firm.
What benefits do virtual receptionists offer?
- By handling inbound services on your behalf, virtual receptionists can help free up time so your in-house team can become more productive at your core business operations.
- Call center services offer trained receptionists, meaning you can create great first impressions on your callers. Not just any random, exhausted employee would be taking your business calls.
- Call center services can help improve sales through outbound calling and marketing campaigns.
- 24/7 answering services mean your customers never have to wait until your business resumes daily.
- By subscribing to call center services, customer queries can be resolved without bothering you or your team.
- Call recordings, reports, and analytics can help with quality assurance.
How much does the virtual receptionist cost?
The cost of answering services varies based on the number of answering minutes your business needs. Most providers offer multiple plans, with the more expensive packages sporting more advanced features. Virtual receptionist costs can range between $180 and $3000 monthly.
Note that the seemingly most affordable option may not always meet your needs. Of course, you may desire more than basic answering services, like reporting and outbound calling. So, ensure you compare prices alongside features when choosing an answering service. Also, look out for hidden fees.
Answering service may be charged by:
- Pay by the minute
- Monthly fees
- Tiered pricing
Can a virtual receptionist service be customized to meet my business’s needs?
Yes, virtual receptionist services can be customized to meet the unique needs of each business. This may include setting up custom call scripts, integrating with other business tools, and providing specialized services such as appointment scheduling.
Is a virtual receptionist service available 24/7?
Many virtual receptionists offer 24/7 availability to ensure that all incoming calls are answered promptly, regardless of the time of day or night.
How does a virtual receptionist service handle multiple callers at once?
Virtual receptionist services typically have multiple receptionists available to take calls, which allows them to answer multiple calls at once and minimize hold times for callers.
Can a virtual receptionist service handle multiple languages?
Yes, many virtual receptionist services offer multi-lingual support to accommodate callers who speak different languages.
How is the confidentiality of my business’s information maintained when using a virtual receptionist service?
Virtual receptionist services are committed to maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of their client’s information. This is achieved through various security measures, such as encrypted communication channels and strict access controls.
Can a virtual receptionist service integrate with my business’s existing phone system?
Many virtual receptionist services integrate with popular phone systems to ensure a seamless call-answering experience. This can include forwarding calls to specific extensions or using a customized voicemail system.
What to look out for in a virtual receptionist service
All businesses are different, and so are their needs. Therefore, you should always look for a live virtual receptionist service that best suits your business needs. You might want to consider the following:
- Specialization. While having a virtual receptionist specialized in your industry is not always mandatory, it may help foster frequent and proactive communication as the receptionist can anticipate common client queries and offer assistance proactively. Proactive communication can help boost your customer experience.
- Live answering services. Some services use bots or digital recordings to reply to customers. This is often more affordable. However, having a real virtual receptionist is more desirable when a personal human feel is a priority.
- Access to the auto attendant. Access to the auto attendant ensures you can update, add, and remove names from your company directory without waiting for a third party. This is important because confusion may arise when the directory is disorganized and outdated.
- Answer time. A good answering service should answer phone calls quickly. Customers won’t be satisfied if they wait a long time, and they may switch to your more responsive competitor for their needs.
- Bilingual service. Having bilingual receptionists is important if your business caters to an international audience.
- Working hours. Answering services with a 24/7 operation would be best when you receive a significant call volume during off-business hours.
- Cost. One reason for utilizing call center services is to save costs while boosting business efficiency. As a small business owner, you might want to consider your budget, revenue, and the cost of the virtual answering service before making the splurge.
What is the difference between live answering services and virtual receptionists?
Live answering services and virtual receptionists are more alike. Live answering is a broad category that includes virtual receptionist services. However, virtual receptionists can be more flexible, handling a more comprehensive range of tasks. With live answering services, phone operators answer phone calls in your brand name and respond to customers according to scripts. Live answering services will be a good fit if it’s just about phone answering and you want to ensure your calls get answered. On the other hand, if you need someone who can resolve simple queries or tasks on their own, virtual receptionist services would be a better choice.
What is the best answering service for small businesses?
Small business owners are typically knee-deep in activity, spending all their time running administrative duties alongside a limited staff. A virtual receptionist like Davinci Virtual, offering comprehensive back office outsourcing and answering services, would be ideal for helping take up more responsibilities. That might prove more cost-effective than hiring virtual assistants separately after subscribing to a call answering service.
Consider your current call volume, admin needs, and answering service cost to determine the cost-benefit.
What is the best virtual receptionist service for law firms?
- Smith AI
- Answering Legal
- Ruby Receptionists
- POSH Virtual Receptionists
- Abby Connect Receptionists
Types of virtual receptionist services
Virtual receptionists and answering services operate in several ways:
- Inbound services. These involve handling incoming calls, messages, and other inbound services.
- Outbound services. In addition to inbound services, some call center services send follow-up emails, assist with marketing campaigns, and remind customers of scheduled meetings.
- Automated. Customers interact with a chatbot or auto attendant in this answering service. In that case, customers may be unable to get help with non-predetermined issues.
- Live answering service. Here, real humans interact with customers rather than bots.
- Scripted call center. Scripted call center services rely on written scripts. For example, you may provide a sales script or customer service best practices for the agents to follow.
- Industry-specific call center services. Some call centers are specialized and only cater to certain industries. A good example of an industry-specific virtual assistant company is Answering Legal, which serves law firms.
We hope you enjoyed this article. If so, you might enjoy these resources:
- Back-office outsourcing. Back-office outsourcing companies offer extensive assistance with voice and non-voice-related tasks. This may include bookkeeping, data entry, scheduling consultations, and answering phones.