Virtual Receptionists vs. AI Assistants

Business owners are no strangers to the challenges of hiring and training new staff members. And if it’s your first time hiring help, you’ll soon find these challenges out for yourself.

First, there are the legal barriers to hiring. The government has designed a process that’s built to protect not only you but the potential employees. You’ll need to be compliant in your own taxes, ensure you have the proper paperwork filled out, and that they’re appropriately categorized as the right type of employees.

Then, the actual search begins, looking for the ideal person for the role. It’s on you to define that role, post the job in the right spaces with the right visibility, then begin the screening and interviewing processes. Once you find the person you’d like to hire for the job, it’s time to take all those legal duties and put them to work. Ensuring your new hire is paid appropriately through payroll, with deductions, benefits, and withholding taxes are all on the docket. Last, but not least, as the business owner you’re then responsible for the time it takes for training and management, plus the regular costs that are incurred from the benefits, training, and payroll taxes. These factors and more can keep a business from scaling.

Enter virtual assistants, a newer concept of support making it easier to bring on help for the first time. Or, for seasoned business owners, virtual assistants are a way of pivoting to a support style that works better for your organization that wasn’t quite ready to scale more. Virtual assistants come with their own benefits and challenges but are an appealing way to get the help you need without as many of the barriers of traditional hiring.

Learn about what virtual assistants are, the various types, and see if adding one is right for your business.

What are virtual assistants?

There are tons of different kinds of virtual assistants, each fulfilling a different role and responsibility for a company or individual. They include AI assistants and virtual receptionists – let’s break them down and discuss the various benefits and challenges accompanying them.

AI Assistants

This type of assistant is powered by AI, a hot feature in the world of tech. AI is becoming more commonly used by both businesses and personal users. Recognizable names of this type of assistant include the ever-popular Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant. The AI helpers can perform various tasks including calendar management like reminders, making phone calls, sending emails, playing music, answering search engine-style questions, and even adding to your shopping list.

However, AI assistants do pose some levels of controversy and challenges. As they are still in constant stages of learning and development, they are prone to mistakes, confusion, and even plagiarism. Delays and errors in appointment setting, writing, and reminders do occur. It’s important to understand the limitations in addition to the benefits that come from using AI as an assistant.

Virtual Receptionists

Virtual receptionists, on the other hand, are still virtual assistants, but of the human variety. Instead of an automated service helping you or your business, it’s a trained human representative that services your company remotely.

There are different kinds of virtual receptionists, someone you hire directly and operates as a formal employee and outsourced virtual receptionists. While you manage and are responsible for all of the hiring functions of an employee, the outsourced virtual receptionists are hired and trained by a professional answering service designed to operate as your organization. These professional receptionists can perform all of the same functions as AI assistants, plus the ability to answer calls, perform live chat functions, troubleshoot customer service issues, and even capture revenue-generating leads – all things an AI isn’t equipped to do. Your phones don’t go unanswered and your customers stay taken care of by a human.

4 benefits of hiring virtual receptionists

Often, if you were considering hiring an employee in the first place, it’s a happy middle ground to bring on a virtual receptionist. You get all of the pluses of someone actively supporting your day-to-day activities with a multitude of additional benefits too. Here are a few of the main ones:

  1. Cost-savings: The costs of hiring employees aren’t always crystal clear. Between working with lawyers and human resources firms to ensure you’re compliant, the costs of recruiting, not to mention the added costs of benefits and payroll management start to add up and don’t go away after the initial hiring process. If your business isn’t in a place to field the costs of bringing in new employees or hiring your first one, a virtual receptionist is a great option as that company handles everything from compliance to recruiting to payroll. With a reputable answering service, the costs are transparent from the beginning and clearly outlined – no surprises.
  2. Management: Managing employees can be incredibly rewarding, but it takes time. Like costs, time is just as valuable. When you manage employees you’re responsible for presiding over the work environment, handling employee conflicts, employee development, and of course, the hiring process. With a virtual receptionist company, they handle all of the management responsibilities of their remote agents. When your needs shift or change, the company handles the training and time spent by the agents who are serving your company, not you. Hours spent on management are instead freed up to spend on building your company while reaping the benefits of well-managed employees.
  3. Scalability: Your calls are forwarded to the virtual answering service, making time management easy. Turn on the service when you need them, and turn it off when you don’t. For example, an HVAC company can leave the answering service turned on during the Spring and Summer months as call volume increases. As the volume decreases, it’s easy to scale this backdown. It’s much more difficult to scale an employee’s hours up and down, but with a virtual receptionist service like Moneypenny, it’s as easy as pressing a button on your smartphone.
  4. Human experience: AI’s developments and improvements are making shockwaves in the world. It’s helping us solve minute tasks and providing new tools to enhance how we all work. However, when someone picks up the phone or enters a chat, it’s because they’re looking for a real, human connection. When a customer calls a business forwarded to a Moneypenny virtual receptionist, they get a real human on the other line that’s representing your business seamlessly. They’re empathized with, complex questions get answers, and there’s less room for confusion.

How to hire a virtual receptionist through Moneypenny

Overall, hiring your first employee can be a complex process that requires careful planning, money, and attention to detail. Utilizing a virtual assistant is a viable option to help you grow and scale your business. Choosing an AI assistant or a virtual receptionist comes down to the needs and priorities of your organization.

As far as the challenges of hiring a virtual receptionist, you do need to find the right company or employee to perform virtual receptionist duties. At Moneypenny, we take pride in how we make our business your business’s second home. With years of experience serving a variety of companies from home services, to accounting firms, to legal teams, and more, we’re ready to step up to any challenge. Our 100% US-based, virtual receptionists can benefit businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations. Our agents are proud to represent and enhance your customer service.

We take hiring seriously, so you don’t have to. Our recruitment and training processes are rigorously conducted with purpose. Training is done with close-knit teams of five, allowing them to share the same knowledge and provide the consistent quality you rely on. Plus, our bespoke technology allows us to recognize repeat callers, take reliable notes, and know your real-time availability.

Hiring a virtual receptionist through Moneypenny is easy. Filling out a simple inquiry form or speaking with one of our answering specialists directly is all it takes to get started. We’ll work with you to learn your needs and choose the right services unique to you.

Discover how a virtual receptionist could be the right choice to support your business, try us for free here.