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Employed Receptionist or Telephone Answering Service – Which Is Right For You?

Employed Receptionist or Telephone Answering Service – Which Is Right For You?

I’m often asked what the benefits are of using an outsourced telephone answering service compared to the more traditional alternative ways to manage your inbound calls. Such as answering all the calls yourself, using voicemail to pick up missed calls, employing a receptionist or juggling calls between existing employees.

My first response to this question is that I can guarantee that a telephone answering service will cost less, cause you less hassles, and is a far more flexible way to manage your calls.

Here’s why?

Recruiting A Receptionist Is Difficult:

Recruiting the right person, with the rights skills is more difficult now than it was a few years ago. Shortages in the labour market and low unemployment rates have left many companies struggling to fill vacant positions.

Advertising, interviewing and training all cost time and money, with no guarantees that it’ll all work out.

Employees Are More Expensive:

An employee isn’t paid on a per task basis. This means that you’re committed to paying an hourly rate regardless of the amount of work completed. And if you just need an hour but at various points throughout the day, this is rarely possible with an employee as it’s more beneficial for them to work their hours on longer blocks such as 4 hours at a time.

In addition to this you’ll need to pay for training, breaks, holidays, sick absence, maternity cover etc.

If you then add employers NI, pension payments and the time it takes to complete tasks such as payroll, HR, then the hourly rate is often more than you think.

With a telephone answering service you only pay for what you use. Your receptionist will be ready to take a call as soon as the phone rings, but not a drain your resources at other times.

Employing A Receptionist Offers Less Flexibility:

If you’re lucky enough to find a good and reliable receptionist, then they can still only answer one call at a time and can’t be at their desk for 100% of their working hours. You’ll still miss calls.

By using a telephone answering service you can easily flex up and down to meet your requirements. Two Calls ring at once, no problem. Receptionist pops away for a comfort break, we’ll pick up the call.

The flexibility of a telephone answering service will easily deal with seasonality up/down turns and cope with the unpredictable nature of call volumes.

You can use the service as an overflow support to your current team, or for all your telephone answering requirements.

Employees Take Time Off:

If you choose to employ a receptionist you’re still going to need to provide cover to avoid missed calls.

You’ll need to cover any time they’re away from their desk, whether this is making a cup of tea or taking a 2 week holiday. You never know which missed call means a missed lead.

With a virtual receptionist you won’t need to worry about attendance levels as resources will automatically be provided as required and available to answer your calls immediately.

Employees Need Resources:

An employed receptionist will need to provided with the appropriate resources. This could be a desk, chair, phone, laptop, software license (e.g Microsoft). Using a virtual receptionist to answer your calls will cut all this out. All resources and up-to-date technology are provided as part of the service.

More Than Just Telephone Answering:

In addition to answering your calls, a good telephone answering service will provide additional admin services to support you and your business, just when you need it.

For example, they can book and manage appointment diaries, take payments and orders, manage emails, prepare documents, keep CRM’s up-to-date. But…

You’ll have to make your own tea!

Would You Like To Find Out More?

If you’d like to investigate if a telephone answering service could be the solution you’re looking for, then you can find further information about the service in the FAQ’s and the link below.



FAQ: Employed Receptionist vs Telephone Answering Service

Q1. What are the key differences between hiring an employed receptionist and using a telephone answering service?

An employed receptionist is a member of your staff who manages calls and administrative tasks. As an employer, you have legal obligations such as paying the minimum wage, pension, providing holiday and sick pay etc. to name only a few.

Q2. How does a telephone answering service work?

When you opt for a telephone answering service, your incoming calls are forwarded to a team of professional receptionists who answer in your company's name. They can manage appointments, take messages, filter calls, and even provide customer service, acting as an extension of your business.

Q3. Can a telephone answering service integrate with my existing systems?

Yes, many telephone answering services can integrate seamlessly with your current CRM systems, calendars, and workflow tools. This integration allows for efficient message-taking taking, appointment scheduling, and ensures that your business operates smoothly without missing a beat.

Q4. What are the main benefits of using a telephone answering service over hiring a receptionist?

The main benefits include cost savings, as there's no need for recruitment, training, or salary expenses associated with an in-house receptionist. Additionally, you gain flexibility with scalable support during busy periods or outside of standard office hours, ensuring you never miss important calls. It also allows your team to focus on core business activities without distractions.

Q5. How can I ensure the telephone answering service aligns with my brand?

Reputable telephone answering services will work closely with you to understand your brand's voice, products, and services. They typically offer bespoke scripting and call handling instructions to ensure consistency in customer interactions, making the service feel like an in-house team.

Q6. What happens to my calls outside of normal business hours?

A key advantage of using a telephone answering service is that you can be open for business even when you and your staff aren’t working.

Some larger call centres will offer a 24/7 option for message taking. Whilst others that offer more personalised services often close around 8pm and then provide a bespoke voicemail to email service until the next morning.

Q7. How quickly can a telephone answering service be set up?

Setup times can vary, but many services can have you up and running within the day. The process involves setting up call forwarding, understanding your business needs, and training the receptionists on your specific requirements.

Q8. Is a telephone answering service suitable for businesses of all sizes?

Absolutely. Whether you're a sole trader, a small business, or a larger organisation, a telephone answering service can be tailored to suit your needs. It's particularly beneficial for businesses looking to scale, requiring flexibility without the commitment of hiring additional staff.

Q9. How can I track the effectiveness of a telephone answering service?

Most services provide detailed call reports and analytics, allowing you to track the volume of calls and response times. This data can help you assess the service's impact on your business and make informed decisions moving forward.

Q10. How do I choose the right telephone answering service for my business?

Consider factors such as the range of services offered, the flexibility to scale up or down, integration capabilities with your existing systems, and the provider's experience in your industry. It's also wise to review testimonials and case studies to gauge their reliability and effectiveness.​

Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or if there's anything else you'd like to know!​

For more FAQ information on our telephone answering service follow this link:


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About the author

Sarah Basey

Sarah Basey

Sarah founded Your Office & PA in 2007 and has 17 years of experience working with businesses offering telephone answering and virtual reception services.

Sarah works full-time in the business, alongside her co-directors Chris and Andy, giving the business a unique, owner-managed feel which enables a fully flexible approach to the services provided.

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