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Hiring a Virtual Receptionist

For my photography studio, it is often just me doing all parts, from shooting, editing, taxes, etc. And it can be a pain in the butt to feel like you have to answer the phone during dinner or on vacation to Disney. And with about half of the calls coming through as spam, that’s a real headache. But, a missed call is often a missed job, so the calls need to get answered.

About a year ago, I started looking into virtual receptionists.

My cell phone number is my business number, so I have it set up so that my phone rings to me 3x first (just in case my kids or hubby call) and then it forwards over to a virtual receptionist. This has worked out great in that I don’t have to worry about missed calls in the middle of a newborn session, or when I just have a headache.

I’ve tried a couple, and I’m still looking for the company that works best for me. But, as with all things, there are SOOO many companies to choose from, so I had to make a spreadsheet to keep up with all the information.

COMPANY

Days/hours

Base Package

Mid package

Highest package

Free trial?

Other Info

Abby Connect


$279 mo

100 min

$499 mo

200 min

$1089

500 min

14 days

5 people are assigned to answer your phone.


Bilingual

AMBS


US based

24/7

$139 mo

100 minutes

$249 mo

250 min

$479 mo

500 min

No


Answer Force


Intro, $129 mo

100 min

Basic, $279 mo

200 min

Best Value, $299 mo

300 min

30 day prorated

$99 set up on all but top plan

Conversational


Auto Attendant, $45 mo

Computer gives them 3 options

Saver Plan, $49 mo

50 min

$159 mo

100 min

30 days


Easybee


8 am to 10 pm EST, Monday through Friday

Starter, $59 mo

50 min

Value, $159, mo

200 min

Executive, 249

400 min

15 day

No set up fees

Has Spanish option

Executive Anserwing


USA based

24/7/365

Bronze, $100 mo

95 min included

$1.10 per min after

Silver, $200 mo

195 min

$1.05 per min after

Gold, $350 mo

350 min.

$1.02 per min after


Can do medical, different charge

Gabbyville

Mon-Fri 8-8 EST

Starter, $229

150 min

Basic, $429 mo

250 min


Executive, $1169 mo

1000 min


$99 set up fee. Waived for some plans.


Will do outbound calls

My-Sidekick



24/7

One size fits all, $79.95

25 minutes




$1.35 add minutes minute.

Ruby Receptionists

M-F 5am - 9pm, S-S 6am - 6pm PT

Impress, $309 mo

100 min

Engage, $589 mo

200 min

Captivate, $1369 mo

500 min


Can also run your 24/7 chat services


Bilingual

Signius


US based

24/7

Starter, $45

50 min

$1 each add

Pro, $109

125 min

$.095 each add

Premier, $213

250 min

$.092 per add minute


Had one of the cheapest rates for add minutes.

Sunshine1

24/7

Silver, $39.95 mo

40 minutes

Gold, $90 mo

100 minutes

Diamond, $300

400 minutes


Has one of the cheapest prices for additional min.

Vicky Virtual


US based


Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 7:00

Starter plan, $90 mo

60 minutes


Entrepreneur plan, $239 mo

180 minutes


Executive plan, $349 mo

300 minutes

7 days


VoiceNation

24/7

$30 mo

30 minutes


No custom script

Business, $75 mo

50 minutes

Executive, $525 mo

350 min




Please note that some of the companies have more packages than what are listed. Some also have secret packages or smaller packages. There are more companies than just these out there, as well. But some didn’t have their pricing very transparent or were much more expensive.

Things to Think About

All the companies seem to not charge for transferring a call. Otherwise, if you have a secondary phone number that they can transfer the call to you, once transferred, you don’t get charged for those minutes.

Some companies email you your messages, some text them to you. Some do both.

I didn’t need any of them to do online scheduling, as I do that myself, but some include online scheduling as part of their package. Others do it as an upgrade.

When choosing a company, another thing you need to consider is how they bill you. Is it by the minute? Do they round up? Or is it by the second? Also, do they charge for scam calls? Every company has a different policy.

With the average American getting 50% spam calls, you also have to factor this into your calls. And will the company charge you for it. Some do, some don’t. MoneyPenny allows for 10% of your calls to be spam and then they charge you after that.


Another option, is something like Task Bullet. You pay a flat rate. Their starter is $11 an hour, billed at $220 for 20 hours and they are a virtual assistant company. Your hours are good for 3 months and there is a money back guarantee. They can help with web development, social media, be a live agent on your website, call clients and more.

Companies I've Tried

I tried Conversational, MoneyPenny, Sunshine and possibly a couple of others. They each had their own issues. Some were kind of pricey, some just didn’t meet my standards. One of them my mom called and she felt like they were kind of rude, so that left a bad taste in my mouth. When I get inquiries, I need a first, last name, email, phone and info about the type of session the client needs. I need this vital information spelled correctly. I had Sunshine for several months and they were HORRIBLE about spelling. They would spell client names wrong or the email. Sometimes the email would be the client’s name and one or the other would be spelled wrong. I complained and complained, but nothing ever seemed to be done about it. So, no, it’s not a company I recommend if you need accurate messages.

The one thing I did like about Sunshine is that they both texted and emailed me my messages. But, the mistakes were causing embarrassing issues when I had to constantly verify a client’s email or name on call back.

In Conclusion

I would highly suggest picking a couple that look like fit your budget and schedule the best and trying them out. Have a friend or family member that knows your business well do a test call and see how they do.


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Jacksonville, Florida photographer. We specialize in newborns, families and corporate photography. Our North Florida service areas include: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fleming Island, MacClenny, Middleburg, Maxville, Yulee and Callahan. For more information and to get a custom quote, please contact Christy directly. Christy Whitehead Photography, 514 Chaffee Point Blvd. #9, Jacksonville, Fl 32221 - (904) 891-0359