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Glossary of Virtual Receptionist Terms - Conversational - Blog

Glossary of Virtual Receptionist Terms

Whether you’re using a virtual receptionist or just learning more about the industry, it’s helpful to have a glossary of common virtual receptionist terms. Most terms are pretty self-explanatory, but understanding the nuances of call transfers and call forwarding can be a bit of a challenge.

Learn more about the industry to make the most of virtual receptionist (VR) services and more fully utilize the capabilities of your VR. Check out the glossary of virtual receptionist terms below!

Glossary of Virtual Receptionist Terms

Answering Rules

Answering rules are the user’s capability to set preferences for the way calls are answered and handled on their behalf by a virtual receptionist.

Answering Service

An answering service is a company that provides a call answering service to business clients. The term answering service is sometimes used interchangeably with virtual receptionist. Answering services are sometimes staffed by live call answering specialists, but the term can also refer to automated call answering services.

Call Completion

Call completion is the status of a call that successfully went to voicemail, was transferred, queued, or handled in any way other than direct communication.

Call Forwarding

Call forwarding is the function that allows you to send phone calls to a different telephone number or voicemail box, just like email forwarding allows you to send emails that come to one address automatically to another. When a person’s cell phone rings in sync with their office phone, that’s call forwarding in action.

Call Hold

The call hold function refers to placing a call on hold without disconnecting the call. After the hold button is pressed, the caller hears silence, hold music, or recorded promotions (depending on what you’ve set up with your virtual receptionist provider). Once you’re ready to rejoin the call, press the hold button again to return.

Call Routing

Call routing is the act of directing phone calls to a certain number or extension based on standing answering rules (see above) set by your company.

Call Patching

see Call Transfer

Call Screening

Call screening allows you to choose whether or not to accept an incoming call. A virtual receptionist answers the call, gathers pertinent information from the caller, and presents you with that information before connecting you to the call. You can choose to take the call, reject the call entirely, have the receptionist take a message, or send the caller to voicemail. While caller ID can accurately identify the phone number of the person calling, it cannot reveal their intentions or the content of their inquiry like call screening can.

Call Transfer

Also known as Call Patching. A call transfer takes place when an incoming call is redirected to another phone number or extension. Call transfers are different from call forwarding because forwarding happens automatically when an incoming call is received and transfers are manually done upon receipt and answer of an incoming call.


Forwarding is a bit different from Call Forwarding. When an incoming call is received but goes unanswered for a period of time you pre-define (say, 3 rings), it will be redirected automatically to a telephone number you specify. This feature helps users ensure no calls are missed.

Hold Music

Hold music refers to music that is played for a caller when they are placed on hold. Hold music is usually a digital music file the virtual receptionist provider sets up on your behalf to play for callers on hold. You are able to choose the hold music you’d like with certain providers. Hold music is proven to be more pleasant for callers than silence.

Local Number

A local number is a telephone number that features region-specific digits that you select. A VoIP provider will usually provide a large list of possible local phone numbers for you to choose from. A local number becomes the official phone number for your business. Local numbers are available free with any plan from Conversational.

Toll-Free Number

A toll-free number is usually available for a small additional cost (at Conversational, it’s $9.95) and begins with a toll-free prefix like 800 or 855. Vanity numbers are toll-free numbers with letters replacing numbers, i.e. 1-800-FLOWERS

Virtual Office

A virtual office does not operate from a traditional, commercial office setting. A virtual office may use a virtual receptionist to create a sense of unity and centrality for the office, which may be dispersed across a city, country, or internationally. Virtual offices may have P.O. box addresses or use the home address of the owner and usually have local or toll-free telephone numbers to appear more professional.

Virtual Receptionist

A virtual receptionist is a call answering specialist who performs the same duties an on-site receptionist would while working from a different location and on a more flexible basis. Calls, appointments, and messages are handled remotely and delivered to the recipient in the manner they prefer - by phone, email, or text message. Virtual receptionists cost around $120-$400 per month depending on the provider you select. You can try a virtual receptionist free for 30 days by signing up for our free trial.


A voicemail message can be left for a recipient who did not answer a call. Voicemail is an electronic means to send, receive, and store voice messages.

Voicemail to Email

Voicemail to Email refers to the ability to have voice messages quickly delivered to your email inbox as audio files.

Warm Transfer

A warm transfer refers to a transfer where the answering party (such as a virtual receptionist) collects pertinent information from a caller, delivers that information to the intended recipient, and if approved, transfers the caller to the recipient.

See anything missing from our glossary of virtual receptionist terms? Let us know by leaving a comment!


Publish Date: February 21, 2018 5:00 AM

2021 Buyers Guide Help Desk Software

eGain Corporation

eGain CallTrack™
eGain CallTrack™ is a dynamic call tracking and case management solution that helps companies provide quick, high-quality, and cost-efficient resolution of customer issues across traditional and emerging interaction channels. It is one of the many innovative customer interaction products in eGain Solve™ suite, the unified customer engagement and knowledge management software suite, which helps businesses transform their traditional call centers into omnichannel customer engagement hubs. eGain CallTrack will enable you to track, manage and resolve cases and maintain service level agreements (SLA), across channels.


Happitu is your customer support team’s personal coach. It guides your team through every interaction with custom workflows, responsive scripting, and dynamic help topics.

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We intentionally built the Happitu Workflow Designer with your customer support team in mind. Using our intuitive tools that provide quick and safe iteration, you eliminate the need to involve IT or Development. Yes, you will no longer have to dread submitting a change request to Devin from IT!

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Knowmax is an omnichannel knowledge management platform. Our mission is to transform contact centers into resolution centers and drive customer self service.
The platform is an industry-agnostic enterprise-grade knowledge platform with components helping in easy findability of actionable information at the right time across the desired touchpoint.

Nuxiba Technologies

Nuxiba's Help Desk Software is ideal for delivering top-level contact help desk services. It not only tailors to your existing technology resources but also allows you to set staff priorities that forward clients to the most knowledgeable agents.

Give personalized assistance, and analyze performance with our real-time monitoring, recording, and reports. Integrate Salesforce or VTiger CRM systems, be TCPA compliant, protect your cardholder's data during calls, and more!

Request a quote or demo today and start the journey to increase your first-contact resolution percentages in less than three months!


OneDesk's software combines Helpdesk & Project Management into one application. No need to purchase, integrate and switch between applications. Your team can support your customers and work on projects in one place. Aimed at SMBs as well as departments at large enterprises, OneDesk is frequently used by project managers, customer service, IT, professional services and more. This easy-to-use, feature-rich, and highly configurable software can manage both ticket & task workflows.

Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

ActivDesk Help Desk Software
ActivDesk Help Desk Software is an intelligent ticketing software for multi- channel customer interaction & engagement. It streamlines the entire ticket management process. With its SLA & escalation management, it enables your help desk to deliver enriching customer experience.

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