What to Look for in a Virtual Receptionist: 11 Critical Factors

If you’re considering hiring a virtual receptionist for your business or are close to making a decision on who to choose, it’s important to do your due diligence.

There is a huge variance in quality within the market, so it’s critical to understand what the keys thinks to look for in a virtual receptionist service are.

We’ve outlined the key considerations below that you should always think about before making a final decision on what virtual receptionist company to choose.

1. Friendly and warm

As the first point of contact for your clients and potential customers, your virtual receptionist needs to be friendly and warm.

According to Forbes, you only have 7 seconds within which to make a great first impression, with other research even suggesting that a tenth of a second is all it takes.

This is made even harder over the phone, where there is no face to face contact. Facial impressions are a key indicator of trust, so your virtual receptionist will need to rely on their voice alone to make a good impression.

There was also a survey conducted in 2017 which found that the second most common quality customers want when phoning a business is friendliness.

Human Interaction
In this survey, a human interaction was one of the most important things in what to look for in a virtual receptionist according to customers.

Customers want a friendly answer from someone who has knowledge of the business and is able to understand an issue and resolve it as quickly as possible.

Any service you choose needs to have staff that are able to convey a friendly tone over the phone, in a trustworthy and professional manner.

If they cannot portray this, there’s every chance you could lose out on potential business.

Did you know? At Message Direct, we will be more than happy to let you listen in to a test call to find out how our virtual receptionists handle customers.

2. Professionalism

As well as being friendly and warm, it’s also key that anybody answering the phone on behalf of your business is professional.

You want customers or potential business leads who are phoning your business, to be greeted in a highly professional manner.

Did you know? Message Direct has our commitment to answering all calls within 6 seconds, we also offer our clients a dedicated account manager that you can rely on; this person is always on hand to ensure that your service remains smooth.

3. Availability at all times

If your business is only open for limited hours throughout the day, you’ll want to look for a virtual receptionist who can cater to your customers’ needs when you aren’t available.

Did you know? With Message Direct’s 24/7 phone answering service, your calls can be answered round the clock.

4. Knowledge and industry experience

When someone answers the phone on behalf of your business, they’re going to need to have a good knowledge about your industry.

Our receptionists all have extensive experience serving a wide range of industries; our clients include everything from carpenters to website builders, with a wide range of sectors in between.

Did you know? You can ask for examples of the different clients we work for, plus talk to one of our staff members to find out just how experienced they are in your industry.

5. Seamless integration with your business

The best virtual receptionist services are ones that will integrate seamlessly into your company.

From the moment the phone is answered to the final action, the customer should have no idea that they are talking with someone not directly employed inside of your business.

Did you know? At Message Direct we will provide you with a virtual receptionist who will be trained to know your business inside and out so they can offer a seamless customer experience.

6. Cost considerations

Cost will often be a deciding factor in choosing a virtual receptionist service. Whilst using a virtual service will be significantly cheaper than a full-time in-house receptionist, it is still a cost that impacts your bottom line.

However, a virtual receptionist will save you money in staffing and overheads with no need to pay for full-time staff, office space, pension allowances, and other associated costs.

It’s also important to consider what the true cost to your business of missing calls could be – we’ve detailed some of this in our article about the impact of missing business calls.

Did you know? At Message Direct we offer a free trial of our virtual receptionist services and don’t charge any set-up fees to new customers.

7. Communication with your business

Yes, your virtual receptionist must be able to communicate professionally and efficiently with callers, but just as importantly, they must be able to relay information back to you.

If you have a good relationship with your virtual receptionist, and they can communicate promptly and coherently, you will be able to make the most from your time together.

Did you know? With Message Direct you will get a dedicated account manager that you can rely on; this person is always on hand to ensure that your service remains smooth. 

8. Native English speakers 

There are numerous examples in the press where customers have had poor call centre experiences due to language issues. 

In fact, there does seem to be a shift in attitudes, with some major businesses now switching back to British-based providers.


It’s because it’s imperative that your clients can clearly understand what your virtual receptionist is saying – and this isn’t always the case with offshore services.

Did you know? Message Direct is a UK-based service with none of our calls being handled outside of our south coast location.

9. Capable of taking the initiative

A good virtual receptionist should be able to think on their feet and deal with any situation that might come their way.

For example, get a feel for how the operator would handle an angry customer or a problem with your product or service that is tough to answer.

Did you know? Our virtual receptionists go through one of the most in-depth training periods of any provider in the UK, meaning they are renowned for their ability to problem solve.

10. Flexibility and adaptability 

Virtual receptionists don’t just answer the phone. They can also follow-up with customers, make appointments, and even pitch additional services to your customers where relevant.

Compare this to how a normal answering service works, and you get the added value of a receptionist who can not only save you time, but also improve your bottom line.

Did you know? 99% of new customers stay with Message Direct at the end of their free trial period.

11. Trusted and established

Our last tip on what to look for in a virtual receptionist is all about trust and reputation.

There are many virtual receptionist services that have emerged over the last couple of years who have limited experience in the industry.

It’s important to work with a reputable, trusted, and established service who aren’t going to disappear overnight leaving you in the lurch. 

Did you know? Message Direct has been offering virtual receptionist services for over 25 years, building a reputation as one of the best in the business.


Finding the best virtual receptionist for your business can be hard, due to the disparity in quality and cost with providers in the UK.

However, at Message Direct we are confident that you won’t find anyone better and are able to offer you a free trial today.

If you want to free up your time, reduce staffing costs, protect your company’s reputation, and work with a service with over 25 years of experience, contact us today.