Love it or loathe it, technology is here to stay and it’s helping clinic owners develop ways of engaging with their clients. 

By automating their admin and streamlining other tasks, private practitioners have reduced the pressure on themselves (and their employees) to treat their clients. 

But according to Rachel Brown at Done Virtually, 76% of business owners still feel they spend too much time on back-office and admin work.

Luckily, virtual receptionist services have helped private practice owners with the tasks and projects they simply don’t have time to do.

Read on to learn more about virtual receptionist services — including the benefits of having a virtual receptionist for your clinic.

What is a Virtual Receptionist Service?

Virtual receptionists work remotely to answer calls and emails, and resolve basic client needs. 

The tasks typically performed by a virtual receptionist include:

  • Answering incoming calls from clients
  • Email management
  • Appointment making
  • Calendar/Diary management
  • Invoicing and chasing payments
  • Completion of forms, reports and templates
  • Letters and mailshots

The Cost of a Virtual Receptionist in the UK

For a professional and comprehensive virtual receptionist service in the UK, you’ll need to budget between £30 – £40 per hour of work

You can also invest in regular ongoing support for your business which will be charged monthly.

Remember that the cost will depend on your needs and the company you decide to hire.

Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Reception

Although existing customers are paramount, ensuring that you have a constant stream of new clients will ensure the success of your business.

On average, about 28% of calls go unanswered and around 57% of people buy from the first person they speak to who can meet their needs.

The efficiency of a virtual reception will depend on its cost and workload, and there are some pros and cons associated with hiring one.

Let’s take a look at some of these now:

1. Cost Efficiency

Pro: A virtual receptionist is cheaper compared to hiring an in-house receptionist.

It’s true! Anna Bunch from Psych VA Virtual Assistant Services told us that hiring a virtual assistant can decrease companies’ costs by 78%.

If you hire an on-site, full-time assistant, you need to consider hidden costs, such as desk, computer, etc. Taking on a virtual assistant will mean you completely evade these costs.

Plus, a virtual receptionist allows for way more flexible working hours. 

This means you can save money by enlisting virtual reception services only during peak periods, or whenever you need to.

Con:  A virtual receptionist might only be suitable for smaller clinics.

Multi practitioner and location clinics may require a more specialised service, that would attract more premiums.

2. Specialised Patient Experience

Pro: Clients will benefit from using virtual receptionist services. 

For some clients, visiting a clinic for treatment can be stressful and they want to speak to someone beforehand.

A virtual receptionist can ease this stress, and provides clients with someone who responds to them personally, directly and in a timely way.

All of this increases your customer satisfaction!

Con: With a virtual reception, clients aren’t actually speaking to you or your business.

Unlike in-house receptionists, virtual receptionists don’t know your business culture. 

This makes it difficult for them to respond to some issues. 

Virtual receptionists usually rely on pre-determined solutions to assist your patients, so they have less flexibility when handling complex situations.

3. Time Efficiency

Pro: A virtual reception reduces the amount of workload in your clinic. 

Rather than worrying about answering calls, you can focus on treating your clients, or on other practice management tasks. 

The virtual reception is helpful at peak times when every staff member is busy, and it will stop you coming out of an appointment to find a list of missed calls! 

Instead of listening to a phone ringing, your client can be your sole focus, as they should be.

Con: It’s not always possible to monitor the performance of a virtual receptionist

Client feedback or regular review meetings via Zoom would be the only ways to gauge how well your virtual receptionist is doing.

In addition to this, a problem which could be solved in seconds may take a lot longer, since it isn’t always possible to help a virtual receptionist when they have a tricky client on the phone!

4. Workload Organisation

Pro: A virtual receptionist improves the quality of service delivered to patients on a day-to-day basis. 

Having a virtual receptionist ensures a smooth running of your practice even during the busy times of the year. 

As well as this, hiring virtual assistants experienced in virtual reception software really helps in streamlining your clinic’s operations.

Con: Since most virtual receptionists won’t be healthcare practitioners, it could take time to train them. 

Virtual receptionists may not have the necessary skills to help patients, and may not know your industry. 

You’ll also need to set guidelines and terms that direct the virtual assistants when performing their job.

Tips for Improving a Virtual Receptionist’s Performance

1. Communicate Regularly

Regular and consistent communication is essential in achieving a common goal, and allows you to update them on anything relevant that might arise.

Your receptionist can be engaged through a variety of communication channels, including messaging, phone calls, and in-person meetings.

2. Evaluate Performance

For the virtual receptionist to maintain high service standards, performance evaluation is essential.

It is also essential that you discuss any relevant feedback from your clients or employees with them.

3. Set Clear Expectations

The virtual receptionist should be clear about the roles and responsibilities they will handle.

You can also set deadlines to help keep them on their toes!

Types of Virtual Receptionist Solutions

To create a good impression among clients, finding the right type of virtual receptionist is essential for the success of your clinic. 

There are three types of virtual receptionist solutions: 

  • Live virtual receptionists 
  • Automated receptionists
  • Fully automated virtual receptionists

1. Live Virtual Receptionists

Live virtual receptionists are human receptionists who work remotely.

Here at WriteUpp, we partner with the following live virtual assistants:

They can answer calls and emails, manage your diary, and take on the admin load for you. Most healthcare clinics use live virtual receptionists.

If you need someone to set up your practice management system for you, then check out Sharon at All Set Upp.

2. Automated Receptionist

Automated receptionists transfer callers to someone that will help them by using pre-recorded messages. 

The automated receptionist allows the caller to reach you by pressing specific numbers on a pre-recorded menu – you’ve probably heard one of these before.

The automated receptionist can also record a patient’s personal or medical details if you need them to. 

3. Fully Automated Virtual Receptionists

Fully automated virtual receptionists decode messages, then give responses. The response is programmed. 

At the moment, fully automated virtual receptionists are not widely used. 

However, with progressive development in artificial intelligence, its use is expected to grow in the future.

What to Look for in a Virtual Receptionist Service

By using a virtual receptionist in your practice, you stand to save a lot of time – which allows you to focus on treating clients, business expansion and project completion. 

If you think you might be interested, we’ve listed 5 top qualities to consider when hiring a virtual receptionist service:

1. Friendliness

Your receptionist is the voice of your brand! 

It is the first thing new clients will notice about your business, so ensure you use a service that features friendly, professional, and certified receptionists.

Having a friendly team ensures your clients feel welcomed from the start, making it easier to make more sales and improve your bottom line. 

Your clients will also appreciate having a kind receptionist that shows care and understanding.

2. Cost and Quality

You will come across different virtual receptionist service providers within your professional speciality. 

These providers will offer variable plans depending on your needs and budget. Therefore, start by considering the call or email volume you receive per day when hiring.

It’s important to also keep in mind that cheap is not always ideal. Sometimes, saving a few pennies might cost you a lot more – such as your brand reputation. 

Ensure you find a cost-effective option that matches your needs and fits your company culture.

3. Scheduling Services

Every clinic wants to have its appointment book full.

What’s even better is having someone to fill up the book for you! 

Virtual receptionists can work beyond receiving calls and answering questions. They will book appointments directly into your diary or clinic management software.

A good service provider ensures they gather all the preliminary information – including preferred times and dates that match your diary, so you can focus on things that matter more – like helping your patients.

To get the best value for money, ensure you choose a virtual receptionist service that also offers scheduling services.

4. Availability

Many clinics make the mistake of thinking clients will always contact them during work hours. 

If you don’t use an online booking system, having an around-the-clock receptionist will come in handy. 

Ensure the virtual receptionist provider can work during the weekends and holidays. Your clients will appreciate you more when you can answer their questions when they need you to.

Equally, gaining clients when your competitors have closed shop is a game-changer!

5. Bilingual

Do you treat patients in other parts of the world? 

Have you turned away clients in the past due to the language barrier? 

A virtual receptionist service can solve this issue easily. Their employees are usually fluent in several languages to help you convert more leads.

Having bilingual staff also helps enhance the reputation of your company. Not having to look for an interpreter every time a client calls speaking a different language also saves you time and money.

Not sure a virtual receptionist is right for your practice?

If you’re stressed out as a result of your current workload and are eager to start automating your practice as soon as possible, then we highly recommend considering a free 30-day WriteUpp trial

Private practice software like WriteUpp is designed to be easy-to-use and affordable, and it can help you automate your client bookings, drastically cut down on admin time and improve your overall client experience.

You can take advantage of many features with just a few clicks, including:

  • Take bookings from your clients online, 24/7
  • Eradicate repetitive & time-consuming tasks
  • Free up “wasted time” so that you can:
  • spend more time with your existing clients or
  • take on new clients and generate more income or
  • enjoy more down-time away from your practice
  • Eliminate paper 
  • Improve your client’s experience 
  • Simplify your compliance with key regulations like GDPR
  • Reduce the threat of virus transmission

If you have any questions, or just want to chat to us about what an integrated practice management solution could do for you and your practice, just grab us for a live chat. 

The button is just there in the bottom right corner of your screen.


Ellie is WriteUpp’s in-house Content Creator. Her research and writing for private practitioners focuses on marketing, business growth, data security, and more. She also hosts WriteUpp’s podcast The Healthy Practice; the show that guides practitioners in the early stages of their careers through every aspect of practice management. Outside of work Ellie writes a mental health blog, studies mindfulness and is a keen nature photographer.