Virtual Call Centers: Everything You Need to Know for 2024


A remote workforce is becoming the norm in today's business landscape, with businesses of all sizes transitioning from on-site call centers to virtual call centers. Virtual call centers are a cost-efficient way to handle incoming and outgoing calls with customers, no matter their location. Best of all, they allow your business to be available 24/7, which is important to 51% of customers. 

Below, we’ll cover what a virtual call center is, how to create one, and whether you should use one or rely on an alternative, outsourced solution, like virtual receptionists.  

What is a virtual call center?

A virtual call center is a virtual answering service that can handle your business's inbound and outbound calls related to customer support, sales, or marketing. You can own and manage a remote call center yourself or outsource this service to a third party. 

Virtual call centers operate nearly identically to traditional call centers; the main difference is the working location. Agents working at a virtual call center can work from almost anywhere with a stable internet connection — whether at home or a remote office — instead of reporting to a physical, brick and mortar office like a traditional call center. 

Virtual call centers generally rely on a cloud-based phone system or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, which allows you to make and receive calls over an internet connection instead of a traditional landline telephone. 

Virtual call centers vs. virtual receptionists

Virtual call centers vs. virtual receptionists

At first, you might think a virtual receptionist and a call center agent are the same. However, virtual call centers and virtual receptionists differ in the support they offer. 

A virtual receptionist service handles inbound and outbound calls as well as other forms of communication, like chats and text messages. Though they’re typically outsourced, they act as an extension of your business, giving customers a consistent, personalized, and hands-on experience. 

Virtual receptionist services offer the following benefits: 

  • Scalability: Virtual receptionists offer a balance between the scale of a call center and the personality of an on-site receptionist, helping grow your business while maintaining a personalized approach. 
  • Personalization: Virtual receptionists handle calls in a natural, conversational manner and are trained in your business’s operations, so they can support any customer inquiry. 
  • Omnichannel responsiveness: Virtual receptionists handle calls, chats, and text messages, and can perform a variety of tasks like scheduling and lead intake. 
  • Cost: A virtual receptionist service charges based on the volume of work, not a fixed salary like an in-house call center or individual receptionist, making it a more cost-effective option.

On the other hand, virtual call centers usually only handle calls, but some hybrid call centers may handle other forms of communication. Because hundreds (sometimes thousands) of clients are assigned to a single call center, virtual call centers may offer less personalization than virtual receptionists. 

When deciding between a virtual call center and virtual receptionists, be mindful of your business’s structure and operations. For example, customers might expect more scripted and to-the-point communication with large enterprise companies that handle a large volume of calls but more personalized communication with smaller businesses. 

At, our team of virtual receptionists offer around-the-clock service and have real conversations with your customers so they feel heard. We utilize AI to boost agents’ efficiency and the effectiveness of our call handling —- without losing that human touch. 

How does a virtual call center work?

Virtual call centers rely on VoIP systems, allowing agents to connect with customers no matter the time zone or geographic location. Most call center phone systems also come equipped with additional features, like interactive voice response (IVR), call recording, call routing and transfers, customer callback, and reporting and analytics. They also typically integrate with existing tools and platforms, like your CRM, so you can access all call information and account history. 

Not every virtual call center serves the same purpose. Some handle incoming calls from customers, some make outgoing calls to new leads or current customers, and some have a blend of these functions. Let’s walk through the different types of virtual call centers your business might consider. 

Types of virtual call centers

Inbound call center

An inbound virtual call center strictly handles incoming calls from current or potential customers. Inbound virtual call centers are typically customer service-focused and might handle calls related to: 

  • Customer inquiries 
  • Payment processing 
  • Order status
  • Technical support 
  • Scheduling 
  • Renewals and upgrades 

Outbound call center

On the other hand, an outbound call center makes outgoing calls to current or potential customers. Outbound virtual call centers are typically sales-focused and might handle calls related to: 

  • Telemarketing 
  • Lead generation 
  • Appointment scheduling 
  • Market research and surveys
  • Customer relationship management
  • Request for information or follow-ups 

Hybrid call center

A hybrid virtual call center handles both inbound and outbound calls. However, as the call center landscape continues to evolve, many hybrid call center services offer additional communication support like email, text, and chatbot responses. The hybrid model is great for small or mid-size businesses that want to scale. 

Benefits of a virtual call center for your business

Transitioning to a virtual call center can be beneficial for many types of businesses. Here are just a few of the benefits of having a virtual call center: 

  • Lowers costs: Because you don’t need a physical office, you can eliminate costs like rent and utilities while significantly reducing the cost of hardware and equipment. If you outsource your virtual call center, you’ll also save on salary and employee benefits costs. 
  • Provides 24/7 availability: With 24/7 agent availability, customers will be able to reach you at the time and communication method they prefer, increasing customer satisfaction.  
  • Reduces turnover: The ability to work remotely with flexible hours can significantly increase employee productivity and satisfaction, reducing turnover. 
  • Improves customer service: Virtual call center software analytics provide detailed insights into customer calls, helping agents effectively address and solve issues, which in turn enhances the quality of customer service. 

Because 92% of customer interactions happen over the phone, having a proper strategy for handling inbound and outbound calls is crucial. To give you a better glimpse into how virtual call centers can benefit businesses, we’ve broken down how they can help by industry below. 


Virtual call centers are great for small and medium-sized businesses looking to scale but may not have the budget or resources to do so. Because virtual call centers are so cost-effective, they’re the perfect solution for SMBs to take their business to the next level without onboarding a whole customer service team. 

Additionally, virtual call centers can increase efficiency with features like IVR and automatic call distribution (ACD), helping reduce wait times and handle calls more effectively. 


Virtual call centers allow larger enterprises to access a global talent pool, making it easier to reach and serve customers in all locations as the business grows. This 24/7 service is necessary to ensure every customer inquiry gets equal attention. 

Virtual call center software is often programmed to be compliant with industry guidelines and regulations, which is critical to ensure business and customer information is always protected. This software often includes data encryption and access control features, as well as call recording and monitoring to maintain data security and compliance. 

Retail and e-commerce

Many online retail and e-commerce businesses have customers all over the world, but without a virtual call center, customer support may be limited to the company’s time zone. Virtual call centers allow e-commerce businesses to expand their hours of operation so they’re able to handle incoming calls at any time of the day. With a virtual call center, businesses can also scale up or down based on peak times, like the holiday season. 

Call center software allows agents to quickly gather a customer's order history and other personal data that may be useful during a call. Features like IVR can also be helpful when dealing with a large volume of incoming calls, as it helps route callers to the correct department and collect any necessary customer information. 

Health care sector

Virtual call centers can make medical offices available to patients 24/7. When outsourcing a third-party call center, you can choose one with experience in the medical industry to ensure they’re up to speed on HIPAA standards and other compliance regulations. 

Educational institutions

Virtual call centers are also great for educational institutions looking for support with incoming calls. Features like IVR provide a quick and easy way to route callers to the appropriate department or answer common questions. Around-the-clock availability also helps cater to international students and parents, ensuring every inquiry gets answered no matter the time zone. 

They also provide educational institutions the ability to scale based on demand. For example, colleges may experience an increase in calls during the enrollment period but fewer calls toward the end of the school year. Virtual call centers give them the flexibility to adjust the number of agents needed to handle incoming calls during peak times. 


Nonprofits typically have very limited resources and may not have the budget to reach a large volume of potential donors. With the help of a virtual call center, nonprofits can reach donors to help hit their fundraising goals at a quicker rate. 

Relationship building is essential for nonprofits, and a virtual call center's ability to connect to a nonprofit’s CRM makes it easy for agents to quickly reference donor history during calls to support their fundraising efforts.

How to start a virtual call center

6 steps to starting a virtual call center

Now that you know what a virtual call center is and how it benefits different types of businesses, let’s go over the steps to start one. 

1. Specify the focus 

First, you want to get clear about the purpose of your call center. Do you need more resources to handle incoming customer calls? Do you need help carrying out outreach campaigns? Or maybe you’re looking to hire a third-party company that does it all. 

Your industry and business goals will help you determine the purpose of your call center. For example, a large corporation might want to start a call center to help handle a large volume of incoming customer calls, while a smaller business may need help with outbound sales calls.  

2. Determine the budget

Next, you want to solidify a budget, taking all the different costs into consideration. For example, you’ll want to ask yourself if it would make more sense to start an in-house virtual call center or outsource this service to a third-party company.  

If you’re starting your own virtual call center, consider the costs of:

  • Hiring and onboarding employees 
  • Agent compensation
  • Equipment 
  • Internet provider 
  • VoIP provider 

3. Choose and implement the right software 

The software you choose is one of the most important aspects of starting a virtual call center. It’s important to choose software within your budget that has all of the features and capabilities that meet your business's needs. 

When choosing a call center phone system, think back to step 1: your call center’s focus. Features that are a top priority for an inbound call center may look different than what you need for an outbound call center. 

For example, intelligent or skill-based call routing is essential for inbound virtual call centers to accurately route callers to the most appropriate agents. On the other hand, call recording and monitoring is an important feature for outbound call centers, as it helps identify areas for improvement. 

You’ll also want to make sure the software you choose integrates with your CRM and other existing platforms to streamline your call center workflow. 

4. Establish a proper workflow 

A call workflow will ensure your call center handles incoming customer calls efficiently and consistently. This includes a call routing strategy, call scripts to guide agents through common customer inquiries, and proper call documentation. 

For example, when a customer calls, you might utilize an IVR system to gather essential information about the purpose of the call before automatically routing the customer to the appropriate agent. 

5. Hire a team of call center agents 

One major advantage of hiring for a virtual call center is that location doesn’t matter, creating a larger pool of talent to choose from. Consider hiring agents in different time zones so you can cater to a wider range of customers. Some other important skills to consider for potential call center agents include: 

  • Creative problem-solving skills 
  • Effective communication skills 
  • Experience working in a fast-paced environment 
  • Organization skills
  • A friendly and empathetic demeanor 

6. Focus on training and processes 

Once you build your team of call center agents, prioritize a proper onboarding process so they’re equipped with the right tools and knowledge to succeed in their roles. Ensure they’re up to speed using your call center software and integrations, product information, call scripts, and other key business information. 

You can also utilize your software's built-in analytics to gauge agent productivity, skill gaps, or where you may need additional resources.  

What to look for in a virtual call center

Outsourcing a virtual call center service can make it easier to scale your business due to the ability to handle a larger volume of calls. It can also be a more cost-effective solution for handling inbound and outbound calls. 

If you’re interested in outsourcing a virtual call center, you want to look for features and capabilities that will meet your business's needs. Here are some things to consider when looking for a virtual call center service: 

  • Multi-channel support: Some virtual call centers may offer omnichannel support, providing communication assistance across various touchpoints. Offering alternative communication options based on customer preferences can help deliver a consistent experience no matter the communication method.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): KPIs are essential to track virtual call center performance and ensure your vendor aligns with your business goals. KPIs could include first call resolution rate (FCR), average wait times, and customer satisfaction (CSAT). 
  • Data analytics: To track KPIs, you’ll want a provider that has data analytics features built into their software. These features can generate useful insights to help make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement. 
  • Industry experience: It’s important to choose a virtual call center vendor that has experience within your industry. This ensures they have agents with the knowledge and expertise to handle unique, industry-specific situations.  
  • Quality assurance and compliance: You’ll also want to choose a call center service that has quality assurance methods baked into their software — like call monitoring and scoring. This ensures they adhere to your company policies and standards, maintain compliance, and deliver consistent communication.  
  • Availability: Make sure to determine the virtual call center's ability to provide 24/7 service through different communication methods, like phone, chat, email, and text. This guarantees your customers can receive assistance at a time that’s convenient for them. 
  • Advanced technologies: Some services may have advanced technology capabilities included in their processes, like AI-based call centers. This could help automate tasks to improve call time and handling or use predictive analysis to provide agents with human-like responses in real-time. 

Leverage for your virtual receptionist needs

Though virtual call centers may be suitable for your business, the robotic and scripted process may not align with your expectations. If you’re looking for a more personalized approach, virtual receptionists may be the better solution. That’s where comes in. 

Our virtual receptionists handle both inbound and outbound calls and are trained in lead screening and intake, email and SMS follow-ups, and personalization. All offered 24/7 with our North America-based agents. Most importantly, our team learns the ins and outs of your business, making them indistinguishable from in-house agents.  

Schedule a free consultation to find out how can help you with your virtual receptionist needs.


Business Education
Virtual Receptionists
Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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