Continual cost-cutting measures in the business world are making it increasingly important to examine your budget to ensure that each and every hire and expense is one you can justify.

This is just as true when you’re considering hiring a virtual receptionist. Although answering services can be remarkably useful, not every business will benefit from the extra help. If you’ve been considering making the leap, don’t hesitate to jump when:

You need to know every call is answered by a live human. Customers generally appreciate a friendly voice and the reassurance that their question, complaint or request for a call back has been heard. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, you may find that you’re missing out on a lot of potential business without a live answering service to pick up the phone each time it rings. When your answering machine isn’t cutting it, it’s time to bring in some human help.

Appointment-setting is a chore that causes chaos in your office. Every office has its pain points. For some, it’s making the coffee, but for others it’s setting appointments in the right software package so everyone can see them.

A virtual receptionist can be used as your primary appointment setter, keeping you and your calendar organized. Nothing’s as annoying to a customer as when they have to reschedule an appointment because you’ve accidentally double-booked or booked them at a time when no one is actually available.

You’re frequently answering after hours or emergency calls. When you’re the one that’s always on call, it can become completely overwhelming and eventually lead to burnout. No one can be the “go-to” all the time without it damaging their enthusiasm for their work or their ability to function.

Those 3 a.m. calls will take their toll over time, especially when the issue is something that could have easily waited until morning. A virtual receptionist can answer these calls for you, weeding out the callers with simple questions from the problems that must be handled right away. Everyone who calls gets a personal assurance that you’ll call them back soon or during business hours, depending on the nature of their problem.

The phone often goes unanswered or rings busy when callers try to reach you. Too many companies don’t have a plan in place for marketing success, so when the calls start pouring in they’re ill-equipped to handle the volume. Whether your calls start spiking during the day or you’re simply too overwhelmed with order fulfillment to pick up every time the phone rings, it’s high time you hire some help.

A virtual receptionist can be used both when you’re already handling as many callers as you can with your in-house staff and when it’s just too hectic for anyone to answer the phone. They make it easy for you to talk to everyone who has tried to contact you, even when you’re very busy.

If you find yourself asking if you need a virtual receptionist, the answer is probably yes. They can do all the things a regular employee would and, since you’re only paying for the time you use, they’re doing it for a fraction of the cost. Small- to medium-sized businesses can benefit hugely from the increased customer contact, improved appointment scheduling and other services that an answering service company can offer.