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What is a virtual answering service

Over the years business people have experimented with all sorts of different ways to be able to receive notifications about incoming telephone calls. Back in the really old days you would quite likely have had a pager system whereby a receptionist would answer your incoming calls and then forward you a short message indicating that a call had come in. The problem with pagers was that you were limited in terms of the number of characters that you could use and you were limited in terms of the number of messages that you could view at any one time. Times have changed significantly with the advent of virtual answering services.

A virtual answering service is very much like having your own team of physical receptionists sitting there waiting for your calls to come in and once they do, jumping to attention, answering that call and then notifying you that you have received a call and what the message from the caller was. The beauty of a virtual answering service is that you don't need to worry about lunch hours, sick leave, annual holidays or idle time. With virtual staff attending to your incoming calls they are there when you need them and not there when you don't. Plus, you don't need to pay them to sit around waiting for a call to come in.

What types of businesses typically use them

Receptionist services generally appeal to a whole range of businesses. We have customers from a broad range of occupations including lawyers and legal staff, accountants and finance professionals, IT consultants, management consultants, tradespeople, engineers, architects and digital marketers. I guess it doesn't matter what your profession is it just matters whether you receive a reasonable number of incoming calls and you want to present those callers with the best possible greeting and service. Many of the businesses that we deal with have between 1 and 10 employees however we have a number of customers with significantly more. Regardless of your size we will have the resources to answer your phones professionally and promptly.

How does it actually work

The process is really quite straight forward. Firstly, you head over to our signup page and sign up for a free 7 day trial. This should only take a few minutes and only requires you to fill out a few fields. Unlike many of our competitors we don't require you to provide us with any credit card details at this stage. Our free trial is a no obligation free trial. Once you have signed up we will send you an activation email and details of how you log in to our system. We will also send you details of the phone number that we have allocated to your account. This phone number is important as it is the phone number that we will be answering when your calls come in.

Once you have your number and you have activated your account you can sign in to the system and set up your company details. The first thing to do here is to tell us how you want your calls handled when we answer your calls. In terms of call handling you have a whole range of options, ie, you could have us answer all of your incoming calls, you could have us answer overflow calls or holiday calls, you could have us transfer specific calls to you or your staff, you could have calls transferred to an alternate number like a hotel room or holiday house. It is totally up to you and totally flexible.

The next thing that you need to do is to tell us what greeting you want used when your callers ring you. This greeting can be anything you like and can be changed at any time. A lot of our customers go with something like "Good morning/afternoon this is ABC Company, how can I help you" while others will go with something that is a little more bespoke. Whatever you decide on you can change at any time that you like by simply logging in to our easy to use admin portal and making the changes. The admin portal is accessible either through your PC/laptop or via an easy to use APP that can be downloaded onto your Android or IOS phone.

All you need to do now is divert your current telephone number to the number that we have provided and we are now ready to start taking your messages. Some customers divert their number straight away whilst others divert after a specific number of rings. Again, it is totally up to you how you want to use our virtual answering service.

How will I receive my messages

There are two ways that you can receive your messages from our service. Firstly, you can simply receive your messages by email. This option appears to work really well for the majority of customers as most business people these days have a smart phone and tend to receive their emails while on the go. This then gives you the option of filtering through the calls to determine which are the most important ones that require immediate attention and which are the ones that can be put off until later or potentially ignored. The second way that you can receive your messages is by SMS message (small fee incurred). While this was a very popular method 10 years ago we are finding that the majority of people these days would rather receive an email. Either way though, it is all up to you.

What is it going to cost me?

Good question, with a lot of virtual answering services the pricing can be quite difficult to understand. Many of them charge by the minute (which means that you need to try to work out how many minutes your average call is) and many of them have a range of additional charges that you may not be aware of until they actually appear on the bill. Here at VirtualOffice.Melbourne we like to keep things simple for our customers. If you sign up for the basic package then you will pay a small monthly retainer plus a small cost per call that we answer. If you think that you may receive more than an occasional call then it makes sense to opt for one of our packages which includes a number of calls. As the package gets bigger, the average cost per call drops. Our approach is very much to make things as easy and as simple for our customers as possible.

What do I need to do to get my free trial

It's really quite easy. If you haven't been a customer with us before then you head to our signup page and fill in your details. Alternatively, you could ring one of our helpful customer care agents on 1300 794 910 and we can do everything over the phone. Once you do sign up for our free trial we will not bombard you with emails afterwards. We also don't require you to enter your credit card details until you have agreed to go ahead with our service.

Why is it called virtual

We refer to the service as a virtual answering service because the receptionists answering your calls are located remotely in home offices around Australia. The receptionists are linked via the internet and work on a system that operates online. When they answer your calls they are answering through "internet" telephone numbers and will forward your message to you via internet based services. The receptionists are real, live people however they do their job by accessing the virtual world.

Who is VirtualOffice.Melbourne

VirtualOffice.Melbourne provide a range of services to small and medium sized businesses throughout Australia. We have been operating in this space for more than 7 years and have close to 2,000 customers in total. We do not believe in locking our customers in to long term contracts and the eason that they stay with us is that we provide exceptional service at a really affordable price. The biggest complaint that we head from our customers is the comment "I wish I had known about this service earlier".

What do I do next?

Why not sign up for a free trial and test drive our service for the next 7 days. If you don't feel comfortable filling out our form then feel free to get in touch with us on 1300 794 910 and we will be very happy to help.

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