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Houston Answering Service News – “Hey, Hallmark, what’s up?” asks Virtual Office expert: Administrative Assistant Week is coming – so where’s the virtual assistant cards?”


HOUSTON, TX, April 9, 2007 -- Houston answering service and virtual office expert Ron Clarke has a question for the bigwigs at Hallmark and other greeting card companies.

“Why haven’t you guys designed some cards for virtual receptionists and virtual assistants?” he wants to know. “Administrative Assistant’s Day is just around the corner during the week of April 22-27. We need some special cards that honor the unique work virtual receptionists and assistants do.”

Clarke is co-owner with son Iain, of Houston Intelligent Office (, a new high-technology virtual receptionist and virtual assistant company located in the Galleria area. They admit that Hallmark and other greeting card companies aren’t the only ones unsure about the role of virtual assistants and virtual receptionists.

“A whole lot of people out there think virtual receptionists do the same kind of work you find at a typical Houston answering service and this,” he says, “is most assuredly not the case.”

Clarke claims that quietly, behind the scenes, remote receptionists and assistants are transforming the way small business owners operate. “With the services of a virtual receptionist or virtual assistant, these business owners are able to present themselves with the same professional presence as their multi-million dollar competitors,” says Clarke. “Most are young business owners operating on a modest budget, carefully controlling their expenses.” Clarke says many small businesses that use a virtual assistant, office from their homes.

“The fact is,” says Clarke, “quality virtual office support is a world away from what you find at a typical Houston answering service.”

On the occasion of Administrative Assistant’s Day (formerly Secretary’s Day) Clarke has devised a short 5-question quiz designed to test Houston business owners’ knowledge of virtual assistants and virtual receptionists:

Unlike answering services and call centers, virtual receptionists provide customized services, just as a traditional office receptionist does.

Clarke says . . . TRUE. Answering services are not set up to provide custom service. On the other hand, virtual receptionists know as much about your business as you want them to know. They’re trained to supply this information in a polished, professional manner. For instance, a virtual receptionist or virtual assistant can schedule appointments in a client’s Outlook calendar if they want her to.

Just like an answering service, virtual receptionists and virtual assistants answer phones on a round-the-clock, 24-hour basis.

Clarke says . . . FALSE. A virtual receptionist or virtual assistant works on the same schedule any other receptionist or assistant works – in Houston, this usually means five days a week, 8:30 to 5 PM.

Answering services can patch calls through to you no matter where you are.

Clarke says . . . FALSE. Answering services cannot typically provide this high level of personal service. For instance, one of our Intelligent Office clients is a commercial realtor who travels frequently. We patch calls through to him on his cell phone and his callers are never aware they’re talking to him from backseat of a taxi headed for the Los Angeles airport. A well-trained virtual receptionist can pass calls through so seamlessly the caller is left with the impression that the realtor is sitting behind his desk in Houston with his receptionist working nearby.

Typical Houston answering services make a point of inviting new clients into their offices to give them a tour, acquaint them with the new technology and introduce them personally to the virtual receptionists who will be taking their calls.

Clarke says . . . FALSE. Ask the average Houston small business owner who has hired an answering service if he or she has ever met the operator who takes their calls. I can tell you, the answer will be “no.” The answering service industry does not work that way. Typical answering services have operators working in shifts who have little personal knowledge of the clients whose calls they answer. And, the chances of meeting an answering service operator personally are nil. A well-trained virtual receptionist or virtual assistant may work remotely, but she still has a professional relationship with that client, just as if she had a job in the client’s office

In Houston, rates charged for hiring an answering service are usually a low-cost expenditure – yet hiring a virtual receptionist or virtual assistant is an expensive undertaking, just like it would be to hire any other receptionist or clerical worker.

Clarke says . . . FALSE. Virtual receptionist companies enjoy enormous operational efficiencies they are able to pass on to even their most budget-conscious clients. Many home-based business owners hire virtual receptionists and pay little more than $250 a month.

There is no pass or fail to his brief quiz, says Clarke. “However, I would tell those who got even one wrong answer to use Administrative Assistant’s Week, (April 22-27), as an opportunity to become acquainted with the difference in answering services and virtual receptionists.”

Clarke says he and co-owner Iain Clarke are conducting personal tours of Houston Intelligent Office throughout Administrative Assistant’s Week, April 22-27. For more information call Ron or Iain Clarke at (281) 657-3300, Intelligent Office ( at 2700 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 1400 in the Galleria, beside Neiman-Marcus.

Focus: Houston answering service, answering services Houston, Houston virtual receptionist, Houston virtual assistant, Houston virtual office


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