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To help you choose the best fit for your firm, here are some key questions to consider:
1. Determine if you need a dedicated team of receptionists
Some companies distribute incoming calls among dozens or hundreds of receptionists. When someone answers, they will get a script with your custom greeting and (probably) a pronunciation guide, but they won’t get to know your firm. Other companies assign your firm a small team and work with you to train them on call handling. Of course, this may also have implications for price and availability.
2. Assess what availability you need
It’s tempting to assume 24/7/365 is better, but there may be trade-offs. For example, some companies use local receptionists during regular business hours, but remote call centers in other time zones for overnight shifts. If you prefer a small, dedicated team, it may not be possible to get 24/7/365 without increasing the size of the team or using additional receptionists after hours. And 24/7/365 is often (but not always) more expensive, too.
3. What do you need in addition to reception
You can get a virtual receptionist just for answering the phone, but many offer additional services like appointment scheduling and confirmation, client intake, live chat, or even taking payments and getting retainer agreements signed. Some services may cost you more than just the additional minutes.
4. How do you want to pay
Most virtual receptionists charge by the minute, but you can find those that charge by the call or offer unlimited or customized plans. Depending on the kinds of calls your firm tends to get, certain plans might be a better fit for your firm’s needs.
5. Compare offereings
Once you have an idea of your firm’s needs, use the feature filters below to see which companies can meet those needs. Then visit their product pages to learn more about what firms are in their target demographic, pricing, and other things you might want to know. Narrow the options to two or three that you are considering, read the reviews from our community, and pick one to try.
While all virtual receptionist services include a live receptionist and allow you to use your own phone number, some offer additional features like appointment scheduling or client intake. Availability varies, as well. Some virtual receptionists are available 24/7/365, while others are available during business hours (usually extended to accommodate multiple North American time zones) with voicemail outside of those hours.
Although they are called "virtual" receptionists, the person who answers the phone is, in fact, a real person who can use your customized greeting, request information according to your instructions, make warm transfers to you, or take messages.
You can give your receptionist access to your calendar or scheduler so they can book appointments for you.
A virtual receptionist service can be a partner in your intake process rather than only and ask questions and gather information according to your intake script.
Some virtual receptionist services will make calls for you in order to relay basic information such as confirming an appointment, providing directions to your office, or making referrals.
You may prefer to use a different phone number to help you track your callers, or a toll-free number to make it easier for some people to contact you.
There are two kinds of chat offerings: live chat and chatbots. Both can be hosted on your website so that visitors can contact your firm by typing rather than calling. Live chat means a real person is available to chat with visitors, like a virtual receptionist for text-based messaging. A chatbot, on the other hand, offers pre-scripted responses to visitors' input, sometimes with the help of AI.
We're using live chat to mean chat plus a team to respond to inquiries, as opposed to a chat tool you can use to respond yourself.
With a chat tool you can add a chat box to your website so that visitors can chat directly with you or your firm staff when you are available.
A chatbot is an automated messaging tool for automated communication with visitors to your website or within commonly used messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Some are essentially a guided form, while others might use AI to answer more complex questions.
A hosted phone solution allows you to move your entire phone system to the cloud. It can also come with advanced call routing options, call recording, analytics, and more.
With call routing you can direct incoming calls based on criteria you set. For example, you could send existing clients directly to the lawyer handling their matter. Or distribute potential client calls evenly among intake staff. Or just send calls to your virtual receptionist after hours.
Your phone service can transcribe your voicemails using text recognition software so you can read your messages instead of listening to them.
"This call may be recorded for quality control purposes." Only if you want to, of course.
Use information about your calls to identify patterns, calculate the ROI of your marketing efforts, and improve your client service.
Send and receive text messages using your business phone system.