What Are Virtual Services
Whether you have recently founded a start-up, own a small business or are growing an enterprise, virtual services can be an asset to your business. Virtual services can help you to manage your company resources better and lower your payroll budget, all the while giving you back the time you need to focus on the things that matter, like growing your business.
The invention and evolution of the internet have rapidly revolutionized how companies do business, connecting people from all over the world and making it possible for companies to grow at an accelerated rate. Whereas once businesses required physical locations from which to operate, now they can trade virtually, from anywhere in the world. Employees no longer need to live locally and to sit in an office because remote working has enabled employers to pick the very best talent for their vacancies regardless of their primary residence. Companies can be founded from home while giving the illusion of a global head-office and help can be accessed quickly and easily whenever it is needed, all thanks to the growth of the virtual service industry.
But what exactly are virtual services, why are more businesses than ever turning away from tradition and choosing to use them and what kinds of virtual services are out there?
What is a virtual service?
A virtual service is simply an abstraction of a service that, instead of being performed in-house, is achieved indirectly through a virtual service provider. The term is now used to cover a wide range of services, including virtual receptionists, virtual offices, virtual assistants, and virtual IT, but is also sometimes used to cover remote freelance services such as marketing and sales support so long as they operate entirely virtually. Because virtual services are now used to describe such a wide range of business services, they can sometimes be confused with other services offered by contractors or freelancers. It’s important to remember that the thing that separates them is that they are performed indirectly and virtually rather than in person.
Why do businesses choose to use virtual services?
Some businesses find it hard to imagine handing over control and responsibility to people who exist virtually and that they may never meet, but this is an old-fashioned view and can limit their growth potential. If businesses can overcome their fear of the unknown, they will find that virtual services can prove beneficial for many reasons, including:
- Saving them money
Virtual services can fill essential gaps within a business at a fraction of the cost that would be needed to hire a full or even part-time individual. With a virtual service, there’s no need to undertake a time consuming and expensive hiring process and you’ll save money on your staff payroll too. There’s no need to pay a virtual service provider sick leave or to contribute towards their medicare or pension plan. You simply pay for the service you use, and that is all. When using a virtual service, you only pay for the time you use, so there’s no need to pay a receptionist to sit and wait for the next call, or to pay for an office that you aren’t using. Virtual service providers offer competitive pricing plans often based on a per-call or per-minute basis to ensure that the business never pays for a wasted second.
- Giving them back time
Not only will you save time overall by skipping a lengthy hiring process, but many of the services provided by virtual service providers are designed to save you time every day. Virtual receptionists will answer and screen phone calls that could keep one of your full-time employees away from their work for hours, and virtual assistants will ensure that only the most essential matters reach your desk. Never waste a minute with IT that isn’t working for you and sleep soundly in the knowledge that someone is behind your office phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Providing them with flexibility
A growing business, whatever its current size or scale, requires flexibility to succeed. Because with a virtual service you only pay for the time you use, you can quickly scale up the help you need to fit in with busy periods, and then scale it back down again when they have passed. There’s no need to rush through a hiring process for a member of staff that you may not need in a month, and you can sit back and relax knowing that you have resources available as and when you need them and at a moment’s notice.
- Enhancing their business status
For start-ups and small businesses, appearance is critical, and it can be hard to compete with more established competitors who have got larger budgets to burn. Virtual services such as virtual receptionists and virtual offices, enable start-ups and small businesses to appear more organized than they are. This appearance is created by ensuring that client calls come through to a professional receptionist and that your company address is registered to a prestigious location rather than your back room.
- Improving their customer service
Last but not least, virtual services such as virtual assistants and virtual receptionists, can also dramatically improve your customer service by ensuring that your phone is always answered politely and professionally whatever the time of day. There’s no need to worry about the phone going unanswered while you are on your lunch break, if you are sick, out of the office or simply if you’re busy, there will always be someone there to answer your call and to make your customers and potential new clients feel heard.
What are the most popular virtual services?
As previously mentioned, the world of virtual services is snowballing, with more and more business operations now conducted entirely online. The virtual services industry now incorporates a broad spectrum of services, but here are 4 of the most popular including, what they offer and how they can help your business.
Whether they’re just starting and are still working from home, or want to give the illusion that their office is in a more prestigious location, virtual offices are a fantastic solution for small businesses or start-ups who don’t want to use their address. Here are some of the reasons why companies choose to pay for a virtual office rather than investing in physical premises:
- To keep their address private
Many businesses start out working from home to keep costs down, especially in the first few years, but having a residential address connected to your business can be an invasion of both yours and your family’s privacy. With your business address clearly stated on public platforms such as your website or invoices, there’s nothing stopping your suppliers or customers from accidentally turning up at your home.
- To receive important deliveries
Virtual offices are still real physical locations and many are manned 24 hours a day seven days a week by security and a receptionist. One of the great things about virtual offices is that you can get them anywhere in the world. Your business could be based in Los Angeles but you could also have a virtual office in Australia! Given that your virtual address is there when your not means that regardless as to whether you’re on holiday, at work or in a client meeting someone will be there to collect your mail and to sign for any deliveries and these items can then be forwarded onto you wherever you are in the world.
- To help them compete with larger competitors
Your business may offer the very best service, but having a residential address attached to your business can make you seem small. Even if you do have an office location, it’s beneficial to have one in a more upmarket part of town so that if customers check you out on Google Maps, they see a well-presented building rather than an industrial unit.
- To give them one permanent home
In this day and age, not all businesses are static. Some work entirely remotely and others have multiple offices that are always changing, so in these instances, it can be beneficial to have one fixed address.
Receptionists are the backbone of many businesses, but unless you have a client-facing front office and the money to pay a full-time employee, they’re often a luxury only afforded by more giant corporations. Virtual receptionists provide the perfect middle ground for smaller businesses, taking the stress of screening calls and answering the phones away from you and your small team and ensuring that you only receive the calls you want to answer. Here are some of the reasons why businesses find it beneficial to have a virtual receptionist:
- To improve their company image
Ringing up a business and having the phone answered directly by the CEO, makes you wonder about the size of their operation. For small businesses where employees still wear many hats, having a virtual receptionist can make the company seem more significant than it is, impressing new clients and increasing their chance of working with you.
- To improve their customer service
If a customer is ringing your office and their call goes unanswered, they will likely turn to one of your competitors. Having a virtual receptionist ensures that every customer’s request is answered, keeping them happy and loyal to your business.
- To save them time
Even small businesses often receive an extraordinary number of calls a day, from people trying to sell them things to customer inquiries and everything in between. Although it’s important to answer each call, most of them are just a waste of time. A virtual receptionist can answer every call, screen them and will then pass on only those that need your attention, giving you more time to focus on the areas of your business that matter.
- To ensure that they never miss a call
Finally, as a start-up or small business, you will likely need to spend some time out of the office, meeting new clients or travelling for business. Rather than risking missing an urgent call, let a virtual receptionist answer and take messages for you if you are unavailable. Also, we unfortunately live in a 24/7 world. Whilst you might leave at 6pm at night in another part of the country it might still be 4pm. You need a virtual receptionist who can answer your calls after hours. You need a 24/7 answering service!
As your business grows and you find that you have a lot more on your plate, then it may be time to consider getting an assistant. As with receptionists, assistants can be an expensive hire, especially if you don’t find that you need them all the time, which is where having a virtual assistant can come in handy, giving you the support you need to get your work done at times when you have more on your plate than you can handle alone. Some of the reasons why people hire a virtual assistant include:
- To answer and screen their personal calls
As your business grows or your status within the business changes, you may find that you start to receive a lot of business calls to your personal office or work phone. If you find that you have a lot of calls coming through to your personal number, then a virtual assistant will be able to screen them for you to ensure that you only spend time answering those that you really need to take.
- To take messages for them
If you find yourself regularly travelling, in meetings or unable to answer your phone, a virtual assistant will be able to answer your calls and to take messages for you to act on in your own time. This ensures that your clients, suppliers, and stakeholders feel heard, but gives you the time you need to act on their requests.
- To organize their calendars and book meetings
Some virtual assistants don’t only answer calls but can help to organize your diary, book in meetings and organize events. The tasks that your virtual assistant can perform will depend on the package that you purchase, and what’s more, this can be scaled up or down, so you never spend more than you need.
- To free up their time when they are busy
Finally, virtual assistants can help to provide senior members of staff with the support they need when they simply need an extra pair of hands. The role may seem simple, but having someone handle their calls, take their messages and help with other organizational tasks can take a big weight off their shoulders, helping them to perform under pressure.
Virtual IT Services
Virtual IT is an up and coming virtual service designed to keep companies online. In our increasingly digital world, it’s vital that even small companies have access to some degree of IT support to help them in the event of a technological malfunction or worse a data breach. Some of the critical tasks often handled by a virtual IT support team include:
- Assisting with tech problems
Not everyone was born to work with tech, and sometimes things may simply not work as they should be. Virtual IT services often offer support to give employees and businesses the help they need if they can’t perform a task.
- The end-to-end management of IT
Rather than hiring an in-house IT team, Virtual IT services can provide end-to-end IT management, ensuring that you and your business have an IT strategy, access to the right equipment and a shoulder to lean on whenever you need it. End-to-end IT management can entirely replace an in-house IT team, saving you money while keeping you online and secure.
- Managing cloud services
Increasingly, more and more businesses are moving their operations over to the cloud, but buying in house servers can be costly. Instead, many companies choose to transfer their services to managed cloud servers, saving them set-up costs, utility costs, and more.
- Protecting IT security
Finally, with cybercrime now the single biggest threat against businesses, it’s essential to have the right protection. Virtual IT services often cover cybersecurity and disaster recovery, ensuring that companies, both big and small, can stay safe against hackers.
Other virtual services
Although virtual assistants, virtual receptionists, virtual offices and virtual IT are the most commonly used virtual services, there is a wide range of other virtual services available at a business’s disposal. These include things such as virtual sales assistants who can help businesses with lead generation, virtual marketing assistants who can help to create campaigns and to support marketing activities, and even virtual HR and recruitment specialists who can help with onboarding and other important business processes. With so much of business now conducted online, there’s virtually no end to the virtual services that you can find available.
Are you ready to support the growth of your business?
Virtual services fill an essential role in many small businesses, helping them to grow and thrive without the need to hire physical employees. If you’re ready to support your business by hiring a virtual receptionist or virtual assistant, then it’s time to get in touch with us here at Virtual HQ where we offer a range of tailor-made telephone answering services to suit every business need. We currently answer calls for more than 6000 businesses worldwide, ensuring that their phones never remain unanswered no matter the time of day or day of the week. Get in touch with us today on 866-454-3599 or by sending an email through to info@VirtualHeadquarters.net and let us take care of your inbound calls.