«  View All Posts

What is a Live Receptionist?
Ryan Ambs

By: Ryan Ambs on October 9th, 2017

Print/Save as PDF

What is a Live Receptionist?

Virtual Receptionists 101

The phrase live receptionist is a strange one, yet most people understand what it means. It’s a plea to talk to a real person on the phone and not attempt to interact with technology.

We have a basic, primal need to talk to people. We learn how to speak when we are a couple years old and, with few exceptions, we will do so for the rest of our lives. One person talking to another person is the most common form of communication, even with all the advanced technology that surrounds us today. Yet businesses sometimes forget this and tap technological solutions in an attempt to address interpersonal needs.

People shine when technology falters. Consider these common examples.


Download this checklist to help you pick a live receptionist service that will work best for you - since one size does not fit all.

How to Choose the Right Answering Service for Me


Not an Answering Machine

Once the rage for both businesses and residents, answering machines are still around today. You know how they work. A device mechanically answers your ringing call and plays a recorded message. This greeting often ends with the familiar phrase, “Please leave your message at the tone.” Beep!

As the answering machine plays its recording, it’s not listening to you. You can ask it a question, try to interrupt it, or even scream. But it won’t hear you. Even after the all-familiar beep, it’s not actually listening to what you say. Void of emotional attachment, it’s merely recording your voice.

Though it’s hard to conceive the reason why, some businesses still rely on answering machines today. This doesn’t instill much confidence, does it?

Not Voicemail

One step up from an answering machine is a voicemail system. It functions pretty much the same way, except that it might be a bit more reliable. But that doesn’t mean people like it any more. In fact, they’re more likely to hang up then to leave a message.

Why do they hang up? The answer’s simple. They want to talk to a person, not record a message that might never be listened to.

This isn’t communication or even miscommunication. It’s a lack of communication. Though admittedly some communication does take place, it’s one way, and it’s certainly not positive. Voicemail doesn’t facilitate communication, it limits it.

Not Automated Attendant

Moving further up the technological chain is automated attendant. These computers play a long list of options, which seldom seem to fit the reason for your call. You know how they work: “For sales press one, for technical support press two, for…”

And then once you make your selection, you’re often confronted with a new list of options and more decisions to make. Sometimes you can press zero to bypass all the shenanigans and talk to a live person, but too often this option is blocked.

Why won’t they let you just talk to a real person? The message is clear: They really don’t want to talk to you. You’re more of a nuisance than anything.

A Real Person

The core issue is that people want to talk to other people, not attempt to interact with a machine or computer. Real people offer the personal touch that cold technology can never match. A person can take time to understand the reason for your call and help you out or transfer you to someone who can.

A Listening Ear

Have you ever interacted with a machine that was empathetic? Of course not. Can a computer really listen to what you’re saying and understand the underlying emotions behind your words? It can’t. People can. People listen. They’ve been doing it all their lives.

When a person answers your phone call, their job is to listen to what you have to say. And they do their work well, because they like helping people. They want to serve you. You aren’t another phone call; you’re someone with a need who they can help. And when they do, everyone’s happy.

A Thoughtful Response

After listening to you, this live person on the other end of the phone line can then respond. More importantly, they can react thoughtfully and with intention. Try that with an answering machine, voicemail, or automated attendant. That can’t happen. Never.

A Professional Communicator

People who answer the telephone for a living are trained to do their job with excellence. They learn advanced communication skills in order to become a professional communicator. As we’ve already discussed, this includes listening carefully and responding thoughtfully, but it also goes beyond that.

As a professional communicator, the person on the other end of the phone line desires to provide you with the information you need or speed you on your way to finding it. And if you miscommunicate along the way, this real person, this professional communicator can seek clarification or go back to the beginning and let you start over. Try that with an answering machine. If you mess up with technology, your only option is to hang up and call again.

A Human Being

This live person you yearn to talk to is a human being. A human being just like you. One person talking to another, which provides the most effective way for real communication to take place.

Working together toward a common goal, you can tackle complex issues and engage in immediate back-and-forth dialogue to quickly zero in on the issue at hand without wasting a lot of time. Try that using voicemail. It could take days of leaving messages to accomplish what can be done in seconds when two people engage in true dialogue over the telephone.

Human beings offer a human touch, and the human touch is the only one that matters.


When we call a business, we have a definite reason for doing so. We may seek information or desire to solve a problem. We may need human help in dealing with the very technology that’s supposed to assist us.

We don’t want automation or a technological solution. We want a live person who we can talk to, who will listen to us, and who will treat us and our concern with respect. This takes us back to our original question.

What is a live receptionist?

A live receptionist is a real person, a human being, who can listen, comprehend, and respond to our phone call in a way that technology cannot match. This individual can offer kindness, empathy, and concern as only one person can do for another. He or she can provide information, solve problems, and offer solutions. But most importantly this person can think beyond the limits of technology to quickly comprehend callers’ needs.

And that’s why you want a live receptionist answering your phone on every call, every day, 24/7.

New Call-to-action

If you found this helpful, you may also enjoy reading:

About Ryan Ambs