27 November, 2018

Virtual Receptionist vs Virtual Assistant: What’s the Difference?

Are you not sure whether you should hire a virtual receptionist or a virtual assistant? Read on to find out the difference.

Is your company looking to make use of virtual services?

As you search for virtual services, you will probably quickly notice one thing: There’s the option to purchase a virtual assistant, and there’s the option to purchase a virtual receptionist. 

What’s the difference between the two? Is one better than the other? Should you choose both or just one of them?

If you need help answering these questions, you’ve come to the right place. 

Read on to learn the differences between a virtual assistant and a virtual receptionist and how to decide which one you should hire. 

Virtual Assistant vs Virtual Receptionist: What’s the Difference? 

People commonly interchange the terms virtual assistant and virtual receptionist. 

However, while both can help run your company more efficiently, they do so in different ways. Let’s look at what each role entails. 

Virtual Assistant 

A virtual assistant is someone who interacts with you. 

They are usually in charge of small tasks such as writing blog posts, updating Excel spreadsheets, creating and posting schedules, posting on social media, and more.

Other tasks people typically outsource to virtual assistants include:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Online research
  • Database entries
  • Data presentations
  • Email management
  • Social tasks, such as thank you letters
  • Travel research
  • Keeping tabs on industry trends and updates

Typically, a virtual assistant will not have any interaction with your clients. Their sole purpose is to help you keep your tasks organised and stay on top of all of your work. 

Basically, they work to take the stress out of your job by performing a lot of tasks that are very important but don’t need to be done by a business owner. 

Virtual assistants work as independent contractors. Therefore, you do not have to worry about things like tax withholdings, health insurance, and other benefits. 

Virtual assistants take all of these details into account, and they charge accordingly. Also, virtual assistants work from home, not from your office. Therefore, you do not have to worry about the extra overhead charges of adding a new employee to your office. 

Virtual Receptionist 

As we said, virtual assistants are hired to interact with you and serve you. Virtual receptionists, on the other hand, are hired to interact and serve your customers and clients. 

In fact, a virtual receptionist is often the first interaction a customer has with your company. Because of this, their job is very important. 

Virtual receptionists spend their days booking appointments, organizing calendars, answering and transferring calls to the appropriate person, sending out appointment reminders, delivering customer service, and scheduling meetings. They are also responsible for engaging in live web chats and phone calls with your customers. 

Depending on your needs, you can either hire an automated virtual receptionist or a live one. 

And, just like virtual assistants, virtual receptionists almost always work as independent contractors. This means you will not be responsible for withholding taxes or providing benefits. And, they will work remotely. 

For those interested in becoming a virtual assistant in the UK, it's important to understand the distinct skills and roles compared to a virtual receptionist.

Can They Do Both? 

Many people make the mistake of hiring a virtual assistant and then asking them to also take on roles of a virtual receptionist, or vice versa. 

This, however, almost never works out. This is because a virtual assistant and a virtual receptionist have very different skillsets. 

Virtual receptionists are at the forefront of your business. Therefore, they need to be very friendly, customer-oriented, and engaging. Virtual assistants, on the other hand, are in the background of your business. This means they need to be extremely organised and detail-oriented. 

In general, a virtual receptionist tends to excel at a few specific skills, while a virtual assistant is more of a jack of all trades. 

Pros and Cons 

Ideally, you will have room in your budget to hire both a virtual assistant and a virtual receptionist. 

However, not everyone has room in their budget for this, and therefore must choose between the two. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is right for you. 

Virtual Receptionist Pros

  • Costs less than hiring a full-time receptionist
  • Can answer calls that would otherwise have been missed
  • Increase efficiency 
  • Boost professional image
  • Available 25/7, even on holidays
  • Don’t have to worry about things like benefits, overtime, office supply costs, etc
  • Many are bilingual, a huge advantage in today’s globalised world

Virtual Receptionist Cons 

  • Some customers get frustrated when they can’t talk to a real human (however, you can always hire a live receptionist instead of an automated one)
  • Not always a necessary purchase for extremely small businesses who can function without a receptionist altogether
  • Lack of flexibility–automated ones are scripted, and therefore refined to a specific set of answers. 
  • Automated ones also can’t perform other normal receptionist duties, such as typing and filing

Virtual Assistant Pros 

  • Elevate productivity within your company
  • Increased efficiency when it comes to handling smaller tasks
  • Scalability–will work only according to workload (i.e., you don’t have to pay them a full-time salary when business is slow. You only pay them for the work they do.)
  • Fill in talent gaps (blogging, researching, creating spreadsheets, etc)
  • Keep your business live 24 hours a day (If you hire a virtual assistant in a different time zone, that is)

Virtual Assistant Cons

  • May have to share assistants with someone else, meaning they won’t be able to always give your business full attention
  • It can sometimes be difficult to not have an assistant in the same office as you
  • Can lack motivation and drive that full-time employees have

As you can see, the pros and cons to each are pretty even and pretty similar. So, the main question you should ask yourself is whether you need more help in the forefront or behind the scenes. 

Which Will You Choose? 

Now that you know the responsibilities and pros and cons of each position, it’ll be a lot easier to choose which one to hire. 

And, as we said earlier, hiring both a virtual assistant and receptionist is ideal. If you have the money, you should seriously consider this option. 

If you have any questions, please drop us a comment below. Otherwise, contact us to learn about the virtual services we offer. 

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