Budgets for SMBs (small- and medium-sized businesses) can be tight. This means that important, but not necessarily absolutely required, positions such as receptionists can go by the wayside as these companies work to grow and stabilize their income streams.

Unfortunately, the calls these businesses are losing by not having a live person to answer when a potential client reaches out could sometimes more than pay for a virtual receptionist had they only known it was an option.

But your business is different, and when the time comes to hire an answering service, you’ll be ready. Won’t you?

Do You Need a Virtual Receptionist?

One of the main concerns small businesses have about hiring a full-time receptionist is the cost of paying an employee, as well as the cost of their benefits and the additional employment taxes the business is responsible for covering. All of these expenses add up fast, so an SMB that only gets a few dozen calls a day can’t possibly justify the expense of a receptionist who sits around waiting for something to do.

A virtual receptionist, on the other hand, can fill that gap between having no unified front for your business and paying an expensive full-time employee. In fact, many companies continue to use virtual receptionists even when they could afford a full-time employee because of the cost savings they realize.

Here are a few signs that you could benefit from a telephone answering service offering virtual receptionist services:

Your calls frequently go to voicemail. Callers with questions don’t want to leave a message and hope you’ll get back to them—they want an answer right away. If most of your calls end up going to voicemail, you have a big problem, but one that a virtual receptionist can solve. Instead of losing those sales dollars to your competition, have someone who is always ready to say “Hello” when your customers call.

Customers are frequently asked to hold. A recent eMarketer report explored some of the biggest pain points for callers. Not surprisingly, being placed on hold was declared the second most frustrating aspect of customer support. Instead of placing callers on hold because your call volumes are increasing, adding an answering service to your toolbox ensures that each caller gets the individual attention they deserve.

No one is available to take after-hours calls. It’s important that you guard your downtime closely, otherwise you risk burnout, but at the same time someone has to be available to take after hours calls in this 24/7 world. If you or a business partner can’t or won’t do the job, a virtual receptionist can and can and will.

A virtual receptionist is a tool that can help you increase customer satisfaction and caller retention dramatically from the very first caller. But that’s not all an answering service can do, not by a long shot. You can also add on services like appointment scheduling if your company largely handles clients by appointment, disaster recovery to develop a plan in case of a natural disaster that knocks out your telephone or power or bilingual answering services to help you reach into a new market.