How virtual receptionists are helping companies across verticals

Virtual receptionists are proving to be useful communication tools, even in a remote work environment.

When offices during the pandemic were essentially empty, receptionists were no longer needed. Those who were in that role largely went out and found other jobs, so when the pandemic ended, it was extremely difficult for a lot of different companies to get those people back. And with the new hybrid work arrangements, having a full-time receptionist wasn’t practical. The switch to a virtual receptionist not only solved the hiring issue, but it also offered a return on investment — businesses could save on the pay, taxes and benefits once allocated to a receptionist position, and no longer pay vacation or sick time. And in the exchange, they have a virtual receptionist that’s on duty 24/7.

Smart Business spoke with John Bates, Director of Communication Technologies at Blue Technologies, Inc., about virtual receptionists and their capabilities.

What is a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is, at its core, an electronic interface of a company directory. Visitors can use a touchscreen to select the person they’ve come to meet, show identification such as a driver’s license or facial recognition, then the virtual receptionist contacts the person in the company that the visitor is there to meet. The virtual receptionist can also provide intel to the company as to the health of the visitor through a temperature reading. If the visitor’s temperature is too high, they aren’t permitted to enter the building.

The virtual receptionist interface is typically through a monitor that’s either mounted on a wall or within a free-standing kiosk. Through the touchscreen, a visitor can type in the name of the person, select them by name or image, offer the reason for the visit and present verification of their identity that can be passed along with the notification.

These tools are totally virtual, using an avatar rather than a human. That means the user can select the image, voice and languages of the avatar, changing those when necessary. For companies that have offices in multiple countries, they can deploy these devices across locations and customize them for each culture.

Virtual receptionists are not just a communication device. They’re also a security device. That security can take on different forms, such as medical or health security to facility security, ensuring that only authorized people gain entry to locations that they’re permitted to enter.

How are these tools implemented?

Virtual receptionists are attached to the company’s internal network, so there’s no need to re-catalog the employee population into a new system. It can also be given different commands, such as to send an alert to security if a former employee tries to gain unauthorized entry into the facility. Those companies without on-site security can have the system alert the police in that event.

There are systems that can print a temporary badge for visitors in much the same way as a visitor would receive when checking into a guard shack or reception area. They can sign in on the touchscreen and receive a visitor tag.

Where are virtual assistants being used?

This tool can be used by myriad businesses. Law firms and manufacturing facilities have deployed them, as have a number of nonprofits because the cost savings helps them lighten their budgets. School administration offices are finding virtual receptionists are budget-friendly, with an ROI that they can measure in months rather than years.

Any verticals that had a receptionist position that was impacted by the pandemic could benefit from using a virtual receptionist. And because these tools are scalable, organizations can choose which features they need and which they can skip.

When pursuing a virtual receptionist, it’s important to work with a provider that offers backend support and will actively install patches and upgrades as they become available. It’s also good to work with a provider that notifies its clients as new developments come down the pike and offers periodic business reviews to ensure that everything the company wants from the tool is in place and working as expected. ●

INSIGHTS Technology is brought to you by Blue Technologies, Inc.

John Bates

Director of Communication Technologies

216.271.4800 ext. 4010

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