Determining Your Virtual Assistant Services

What kinds of services do virtual assistants offer? Discuss the endless possibilities here.

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Old 07-17-2012
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Default Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I know many VA's do reception work and am wondering how they accomplish this, especially if they have several clients wanting this service. I'm guessing they have a special phone system so that they can see which company is being called as well as several lines to accommodate multiple calls. Would love to hear from those who are already doing this!
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Old 07-19-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I do not provide this type of service however I would think that the client may have their own phone service which they use. You may also want to check out some popular ones such as RingCentral, Grasshopper or even Google Voice (for solos) that you could recommend to them.

You may also want to check out DaVinci virtual office which provides this service to many clients.
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Old 07-24-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Thanks for the info, Lee. I'll be checking out all of the resources you suggested!
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Old 07-24-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I've been curious of the answer to this question as well. I'm sure there must be a post here on the forum that addresses this. In the meantime, I will check out all the resources listed as well.

Thanks
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Old 08-13-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
DaVinci Virtual doesn't explain much information - but it would be good to hear from VA's that actually provide this service.
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Old 08-14-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Hi,

Receptionist work is tricky; even if it's the only service someone offers and especially if there's only one (1) person in the company.

Unless you have someone that will pay you for say 4 hours as opposed to "per call" it's not worth it to me. Most people want you to "be available" for those 4 hours, but only want to pay you "per call"...not equitable.

And you would also need to get an agreement that some calls 'may' go to voicemail if you have more than 1 client because (for me) it's be difficult to stop and start other tasks to answer calls and since I track time, it's even more difficult to do.

That being said...Something like Google Voice would work well though since it shows the number that was called on Caller ID as opposed to the number calling (and works on land-lines and cell phones).

Also, a lot of the standard phone companies offer a service called "DistinctiveRing" (and other names as listed here:) that allow you to know what number was called based on the Ringer (again making it so you would only need 1 phone).

HTH!
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Old 08-14-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Depending on your specific needs and your clients specific needs the options already mentioned may work. I personally use eVoice for my team and I for my toll free office number and Smartfax number, but we are not a calling service. I have a client who uses RingCentral for her team and I am of course part of her team. I have also worked with Grasshopper, and I have my local business line through Google.

These are not true call center options. If you want a true call center you will want something like this. It is a cloud based inbound and outbouand call center. Now this is for if you want to get really involved in it. This type of solution is pretty pricey I believe. This site does not list their rates, but I have researched this in past for myself and it was quite expensive overall in my opinion.

If you want to Google it use the term "software inbound and outbound call center" and you will get plenty of options to look into.

Hope that helps!
Rhonda
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Old 08-14-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Thanks for all of the info, everyone! It sounds like not a whole lot of VA's do reception work, which actually kind of surprises me.
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Old 08-16-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
No, I don't think a lot of us do. It is a common misconception that we do this though. It really is a quite involved process to handle someone else's phone from a remote location. Especially you are going to be handling multiple phones. I did answer phones for one client on a regular basis early on. We used grasshopper, but that would not have worked for multiple clients. I did not like doing it though because 1) it meant I was tied to the phone all day and 2) I have children and pets who are noisy and it was frustrating trying to keep them quiet when I was working phone hours. So I stepped away from that kind of work, and decided it wasn't for me.
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Old 08-17-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I was going to post a question regarding something similar. I wish to offer my clients a telephone answering system so that when they are in meetings etc I would be able to answer their phone to make appointments etc. I need a service that will give me a number that I can use as my business line but will also be used when my clients divert their phone to that number but when I receive the call it shows their number and not the number of the person that is calling them. In that way I can answer the call in their company name and not my own company name. I need to be able to distinguish calls to their number and not my own. Does that make sense? Anyone know of any service able to do this. I tried to call the Vonage helpline but the guy there kept saying it would show my own vonage no. I don't think he had a clue what I was talking about.

Sandra

Last edited by shadowcat; 08-17-2012 at 09:02 AM. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 08-24-2012
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Lightbulb Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
This happens to be the main service I will be providing yet I can only handle three clients at a time. The best route I have decided to take is to have a business line installed and buy an actual acd phone at Office Max or any other local Business supply store. With a business line you can add additional lines and you just have to label the line associated with the number called on your phone.

There could be a better way but I prefer a land line phone for call quality as opposed to voip. My problem is finding software that allows the features I need such as paging, and instant messaging to the contractors I hope to do business with.

I have not officially started the answering service part of my business but I feel this was a start. I hope this helps!
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Old 08-24-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I figured that was the only way it could be done, MsLClipps, but I just wasn't sure. There's so much technology today it seems there's a streamlined solution for everything.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
ONSip is another VoiP phone system provider I have heard good things about. I have decided to stay away from this type of virtual work because it is not cost effective for me in my business.
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Old 09-19-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I am offering this as one of my services also and I have been looking closely at phone.com. You get two numbers automatically when you sign up. I don't plan to have more than two clients at one time. I will offer after hour answering services and eventually event registrations etc.

Any other project work can be done in between calls, I learned how to be effective with this approach on multi-tasking from 15+ years in a call center environment.
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Old 09-24-2012
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I actually offer this service for my customers. I offer it as an answering service. I signed up with a company called virtualTAS and got phone system from them. Each of my clients gets their own individual number and when they forward their calls to me, the software tells me how to answer the phone and which company the call is for. The software lets me take a message and then sends the customer their message by email. It's very easy to add to your VA service. I charge the client per call.
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Old 03-05-2013
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I realize that this thread started six months ago, but I just had a potential client call and would like me to answer her phone and make appointments virtually. She is a Psychologist and as I have experience in taking information to make the appointments, I am thinking about letting her know that the calls probably will go to voice mail, but that I can then return the call and set the appointment. So what I am reading is that Google Voice may be the best way for me to do this. Are there any other thoughts on what I am proposing? I would have to come up with a charge I understand that. Thanks you.
Elizabeth
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Old 03-06-2013
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
I would like to comment on two of the issues brought up here:
1: the quality aspect of a VOIP phone service.
2: how to handle the varying call load -- sometimes a lot of calls, sometimes no calls.

1. The quality aspect of a VOIP phone service.

In order for a VOIP phone service to work well (good voice quality, etc), you absolutely must have a fast internet connection. And in order to have the best chance for success, you need to give your VOIP adapter "first dibs" on the internet bandwidth. The best way to do this is to connect it between your modem and your router. (Vonage and Phone.com both allow this; I'm not sure about any other service.) In this way, your VOIP adapter can take as much (or as little) bandwidth it needs at any time in order to have the best chance for good quality. If you have an all-in-one unit (modem and router in one), you obviously can't put the VOIP adapter between the router and the modem; but you can go into the QoS (quality of service) settings on your router and make sure that the VOIP adapter has the highest priority.

For call quality, you can't beat Vonage. Also, prior to getting Vonage, we had intermittent internet issues; but since getting Vonage, we haven't had internet issues. (My guess is that Vonage does automatic error correction on the internet signal.) Best of all, I pay $12 per month (including tax) for unlimited nationwide calling with Vonage!

2. How to handle the varying call load -- sometimes a lot of calls, sometimes no calls.

Phone.com (and others, I'm sure) allows you to set up a queue, whereby callers will be on hold (with on-hold announcements or music) until you can get to them. This will allow you to be doing other things, or be on another call, and then get to the caller as you are able to.

With Phone.com, you don't need to have a VOIP adapter, although they will provide you one if you want one. You can instead use whatever phone you currently have (cell phone, Vonage, Phone.com, phone company, or whoever) with their system. The thing is, if the phone you use has voice mail, you need to either turn off voice mail on your phone or shorten the time that the queue will try to call you so as to prevent the caller from going into your phone's voice mail. (It's better to set up all of your call management in Phone.com, including voice mail.)

I work at a computer help desk; and we use phone.com as our phone system. We use our regular desk phones as our phone.com phones, and we almost never have problems with phone.com working correctly.

Conclusion: If I were going to offer a receptionist service, I would get a virtual PBX system such as phone.com which gives you the ability to set up a queue. In this way, you can be doing other things and still take calls.
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Old 03-11-2013
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Thank you Jim for your answer. This really does help and as I am very new in this business, then I am going to have to decide if I want to add this to my services. As I have one person who wants this service from me I will look at the Phone.com system. I have VOIP and use Comcast, we have no problem with fast internet in our area or problems with the phone system, except Comcast is expensive compared to Vonage. I will start the research.
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Old 03-13-2013
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
You can obtain a multiline phone, but in your case if you have lets say, 4 or 5 clients who can use the same phone system so you can be their receptionist... who will your loyalties go with first. I mean, what if wall lines ring at once and maybe the president of two or three of the companies give you a deadline of next day service for a job they want you to do, which one do you do first espcially if they are all due at the same time? Best to do one or two clients at a time. Then you can focus and deliver great work on time and not get any clients shorted. Remember, your best advertisement is "word of mouth". If you deliver poor results, that will also hurt your business for repeat clients. You want to gather a client list that you can give out as references. Also, they can refer to you... the ones that you did successful service for. So think about it.
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Old 03-13-2013
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Default Re: Reception work - how does a VA do this?
Originally Posted by ecallison View Post
Thank you Jim for your answer. This really does help and as I am very new in this business, then I am going to have to decide if I want to add this to my services. As I have one person who wants this service from me I will look at the Phone.com system. I have VOIP and use Comcast, we have no problem with fast internet in our area or problems with the phone system, except Comcast is expensive compared to Vonage. I will start the research.
Elizabeth:

If I understand things correctly, Comcast is your internet service, not a VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone service. Vonage, on the other hand, is a VOIP phone service, not an internet service. You will need both if you plan to use a VOIP phone service.

A Virtual PBX (such as phone.com) is yet a third piece of this puzzle! Typically, internet is not required for a Virtual PBX to work; the only thing you need is some sort of phone service (VOIP, landline, cellular, whatever). But generally you log onto their website in order to set everything up.

Based on what you have said, I'm sure that you will need a Virtual PBX such as phone.com, so that you will have a queue (so that the caller is on-hold, listening to music or to your announcement, until you can take the call).

You will also need to decide what kind of phone service you will want to have. If that happens to be VOIP, then of course you will also need fast, reliable internet service. Unless you are sure that your internet service is fast and reliable ALL OF THE TIME, then I would consider some other type of phone service.

The one which is most intriguing to me is Sprint or Verizon home phone service. (I've never used it, but I've read the info on their web sites.) The way it works is, you get a Sprint or Verizon cellular device, and you plug a standard telephone into it. Therefore, the phone will work whether or not you have reliable internet service; it all depends on whether or not you get a good Sprint or Verizon signal at your house / office. The nice thing is, you find a spot in your house where the device gets a good signal, and you then plug it into the nearest phone jack (assuming that you don't already have home phone service!). Once you have done that, all of the jacks in your house are now live with the Sprint or Verizon service!

Each company charges $20 per month for unlimited domestic (USA) calling.

Of course, you can easily take the device with you if you relocate -- as long as you get a good cellular signal in the new location.

Jim
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