What is a Remote Receptionist? Benefits + Features To Look For


A remote receptionist handles inbound and outbound calls for your business from a remote location. They can handle many of the same functions and tasks as your in-house staff, including taking incoming calls, recording messages, and transferring calls. Some remote receptionists can even make outbound calls, assist with scheduling, take payments, and more. 

Today’s companies are finding themselves in need of more outsourced services than ever before. If you’re looking for a cost-effective phone service that can scale with your business and offer a personalized experience without hiring a dedicated full-time, in-house team — remote receptionists may be the best solution for you. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how a remote receptionist service works, how they differ from in-person receptionists, key features to keep in mind when outsourcing these types of services, and how Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists can help. 

What can remote receptionists do?

Remote receptionists, also called virtual receptionists, can handle all the duties of an in-house receptionist and then some — from standalone answering services to full-service receptionist duties. Plus, you can choose from a variety of customizable plans designed to fit the needs of your business.

Here are some of the tasks remote receptionists can take off your hands: 

  • Inbound sales, marketing, and customer service calls
  • Outbound sales, marketing, and lead nurture calls
  • Lead screening and lead qualification
  • Taking messages
  • Sending call summaries 
  • Providing standardized information to clients
  • Transferring calls to the right party
  • Making follow-up calls and taking notes
  • Scheduling and appointment setting
  • Payment collection with credit card software integration
  • Spam call blocking and VIP pass-throughs
  • Text answering by live agents and AI

With receptionist support, you can focus your efforts on client satisfaction, billable work, future growth, or other important areas that need your attention. These services are typically outsourced to a third-party company, but well-trained remote receptionists will feel like they’re part of your in-house team.  

How does a remote receptionist service work?

Here’s how receptionists can take calls for businesses remotely:

  1. Customers call the business number.
  2. The call is automatically forwarded to the remote receptionist or receptionist service.
  3. A receptionist answers the call with your business's custom greeting, creating the feeling that they’re part of your in-house team.
  4. The receptionist resolves the issue based on specific criteria for your business or forwards the call to the appropriate agent, depending on the reason for the call.

Essentially, a remote receptionist answers calls in the same way an in-house receptionist does, taking the work of fielding phone calls off your hands. These services are completely customizable, which means you can scale them to fit your business needs. 

In-house vs. remote receptionists: The benefits of outsourcing

Comparison chart titled 'In-house vs. remote receptionists.' On the left, an in-house receptionist on a phone call. On the right, a remote receptionist with a headset and a laptop.

Despite advancements in customer service technology, 60% of customers still prefer human interaction, so having real people answering calls should be a no-brainer. The only choice you’re left with is whether to use in-house receptionists or outsourced remote receptionists. Let’s look at some of the benefits of choosing to go the remote route.

  • Reliability: With in-person teams, you risk being short-staffed, overbooked, or experiencing other unforeseen employee circumstances. Remote receptionist services offer uninterrupted service, making it a reliable way to give callers the attention they deserve.  
  • Cost efficiency: With a remote receptionist service, you won’t have to hire or train employees to do the work. The only thing you’ll pay for is the time spent on calls and the services provided by the remote company. This cuts down on onboarding, training, and overhead costs related to labor and other employee expenses.
  • 24/7 availability: Remote receptionists can handle client calls and demands outside your traditional business hours, ensuring every call is always answered. This is crucial for businesses with clients and customers in different time zones or service-based businesses who get calls from leads around the clock. 
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Remote receptionists have the necessary skills and tools to provide exceptional service and manage multiple customer requests, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Professionalism: Virtual receptionists are also trained to understand your business and present your company positively, making it easy for them to answer questions about your products or services while enhancing your business’s reputation. 
  • Scalability: You can easily scale up or down with remote receptionist services, allowing you to adjust the services based on the ever-changing needs of your business – without the hassle and cost of hiring or firing full-time or part-time staff members. 

What features should I look for in a remote receptionist service?

Remote receptionist services offer several features and customizable solutions based on your needs. Though this may look different for every business, here are some important features to look for when shopping for a remote receptionist service. 

Live answering

People appreciate human-to-human interaction. Even with advanced technology like AI-enhanced answering services, you still need to offer customers the opportunity to speak to real people.

If you’re unable to manage your business's high call volume, remote receptionists can take on that task while adding a layer of professionalism and personal touch that customers value. Instead of sending customers to an automated system, remote receptionists are there to answer no matter the time of day, ensuring no inquiry gets left unanswered. 

Look for a provider that allows you to create custom greetings and call-handling guidelines. This will ensure your remote receptionists feel like an extension of your business and that every call is managed effectively. 

Message services 

Taking messages is one of the most basic forms of virtual receptionist services, but one that’s often overlooked. Your remote receptionist company can handle taking caller information, including their contact details and the reason for calling, and then pass the messages along to the right parties. Look for a service with call recording and transcription features to ensure all messages are accurately relayed.  

Appointment scheduling  

Several virtual receptionist services also offer integrated appointment scheduling and calendar tools. They can help schedule appointments with leads and clients, send appointment reminders, and send follow-up emails after appointments are set so everyone has the information they need ahead of the meeting. 

Call transferring

Remote receptionists should be able to route calls directly to the right party or to a specific number outlined in your service agreement. Look for a service that handles all call transfers and includes multiple transfer destinations, ensuring the people who need immediate assistance get it.

At Smith.ai, our virtual receptionists can even send requests for call transfers via text, Slack, or Microsoft Teams if you’re unable to get on the phone. This guarantees that calls get handled — even on your busiest days. 

Response time

Ninety percent of customers today expect an immediate response to their inquiries. When you choose remote receptionists, you can trust that they will always be available to answer the call, transfer it effectively, and keep response times as quick as possible. 

24/7 availability 

The best virtual receptionist services offer fully customizable service schedules, including 24/7 availability, so our customers never have to go without the answers or assistance they need. Look for a service that operates around the clock, especially if you have clients and customers in different time zones. 

You’ll also want to look for providers whose agents come equipped with effective hardware, have quiet backgrounds, and prioritize proper phone etiquette to ensure phone call quality is consistent at any time of day. 

Proper agent training 

The entire point of outsourcing to remote receptionists is that you are giving the job to people who are experienced and properly trained. This means you’ll want to make sure to choose a company that trains employees well and provides them with the resources they need to properly manage calls. If the remote receptionist provider is going to be your customer's first point of contact, you need to make sure they understand your business. 

At Smith.ai, our virtual receptionists are trained to know the ins and outs of your business and use AI-powered software to guide them through every call. This ensures all calls are handled accurately based on your unique business details. 

Call data and analytics

Some remote receptionist services also offer call data and analytics capabilities that allow you to gain insights into customer interactions. You’ll have a full view of call summaries, the type of caller, average call times, actions completed on the call, and other important key metrics so you can make informed business decisions. 

Graphic outlining features to look for in a remote receptionist service, including live answering, message services, appointment scheduling, call transferring, quick response time, 24/7 availability, proper agent training, and call data analytics.

Smith.ai is your remote receptionist solution

At Smith.ai, we have hundreds of live agents trained to act as an extension of your existing team. Even with our AI integrations and technology additions, our biggest focus is our experienced human receptionists who can field any and all calls that come their way. Our agents can be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering solutions like:

  • Customized plans to handle all incoming calls, outbound calls only, overflow, after hours, or any other needs
  • Follow-ups, work status updates, and appointment reminders via outbound calls
  • Lead qualification and client intake solutions from our integrated CRM options
  • Payment collection and integrated credit card processing
  • Text answering services to help capture leads and serve clients who contact you via text message
  • Affordable per-call pricing and month-to-month service with no contracts, fees, or long-term commitments
  • A risk-free start with a 14-day money-back guarantee

If you’re ready to step up your phone communications and streamline your day-to-day operations, remote receptionists might be your answer. Contact the team at Smith.ai to see how we can create a customized solution that suits the needs of your business. Whether you need basic overflow assistance or a full-service receptionist solution, we’ve got you covered. 

Contact us today to book your consultation.

Written by Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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