Before Covid killed the receptionists, do you remember the good old days when you’d visit a company? Behind the reception desk there would be lovely welcoming smiling faces. They’d be ready to help you with signing in and getting your visitor’s badge. Yep. Well those days have gone. A lot has changed since Coronavirus landed on these shores. The speed of change in the working world has been astonishing. Once things get back to ‘normal’ it’ll be a rare thing to find a company with a receptionist at all. You’ll be lucky if you’re greeted with a bell to press, a bottle of sanitiser and a laminated QR code for the Covid app.
Whilst receptionists were great for welcoming visitors and generally being the oracle of the organisation they were also pretty good at answering the phone and transferring calls. Now that they’re consigned to history, alternatives need to be found. Here are the options for managing those incoming calls:
These cloud based telephony systems are managed on a laptop from anywhere. They are very user friendly, low cost and you can configure everything yourself with some basic training. Set time and routing parameters so that calls are routed to groups or individuals for front line response. Systems can be very small or huge. VOIP stands for voice over internet protocol. Instead of calls routing on analogue lines, they are routed digitally over the internet. But your team may not want to take incoming calls. Maybe their time needs to be spent on other activities.
Interactive voice response is something we are all familiar with, even if we have never heard of IVR itself. This is where callers are routed by a system of call distribution, eg press 1 for sales, press 2 for accounts etc. Callers interact with the intelligence of the system with voice or push button responses. IVRs are popular with large organisations that have scaled back their call centre and customer service teams. They keep people in queues, listening to mind numbing music and generally callers hate them. But love them or hate them they are definitely here to stay for now.
Telephone answering/outsourced receptionists
Although Covid killed the receptionists, you still need someone to answer the phone. Especially if you like your callers to be greeted by a human rather than a machine. Outsourced receptionists are highly skilled, able to transfer calls, take messages and assist the caller in exactly the same way as a physical receptionist. The caller would never know the difference. Unlike machines, receptionists give a great first impression of your business, build relationships and make the caller feel more valued. It’s very simple psychology. People like personal contact and a voice at the end of the phone can do so much more to instil confidence in your organisation. Plus outsourced receptionists cost a fraction of the cost of employing somebody. Also they don’t take holidays or sick leave.
In this post-receptionist dawn, only you can decide on the best option for your organisation. If you have a personal relationship based company, then replacing receptionists with a digital solution could be at odds with your ethos and create a transactional feel. With outsourced receptionists you have the best of both world and keep that personal connection with your callers.