If you’ve set up a local phone number overseas, you’ve taken a big step towards establishing your business as a true international force. But what about when a customer calls your brand new local number?

 

Unless you’ve got the resources to man a physical call center, you have a few options — but all of those options require a competent human being on the other end of the phone.

 

Hiring a Virtual Receptionist

 

The person who answers your incoming calls is the gatekeeper between your customers and their first impression of your business. A conversation with your receptionist is the first domino to fall in the inevitable chain of word-of-mouth advertising to come, whether it’s good or bad.

 

In short, hire a dedicated operator who does only that instead of saving money by farming out the task to a multi-tasking employee..

 

Obviously, community sites like Craigslist and job boards like Monster are filled with qualified people looking for jobs like the one you’re looking to fill. The problem with sites like these, however, is that you have to provide a “help-wanted” post, and then your email is ¬†inundated with a flood of resumes.

 

Try ODesk. When you list an opening for an operator on ODesk, freelancers will place bids for the position. You can then see the individual’s profile, their job history, their rating on the site and their all-important fee requirements. You can weigh their qualifications against their price, and if you string it out, you can create a bidding war that benefits you, the employer.

 

ODesk is crawling with qualified freelancers just waiting to submit and resubmit proposals with consecutively lower fee requirements.

 

Receiving Calls

 

Your qualified, well-trained freelance receptionist — who you’ve already made sure is familiar with the country where your local number is located — isn’t going to come into an office. That’s why he or she is willing to work for such a low rate.

 

Consider one of the two following options for setting up your virtual operator with a virtual call center to call home.

 

Google Hangouts

 

Google Hangouts is a video chat platform that the ubiquitous search giant is positioning to the be the future of its communications division. Including talk, video and messenger, Google Hangout works exactly the same on Android or iOS. As many as 10 people can live chat at once in the same hangout, and the service works through either Google+ or Gmail, both of which are free. Once just a plaything for vloggers, Google Hangouts has been upgraded to a true business telecommunications system.

 

Skype

 

Launched in 2003, Skype ushered in the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) revolution that now dominates business telephony. Also compatible with many different devices, Skype will allow your virtual operator to send and receive texts, calls and video chats. Skype-to-Skype calling is free, and rates are inexpensive for landline or mobile calling.

 

Administrative Functions

 

With all this new technology, you’ll still have to do the old-fashioned work of organizing meetings, assigning tasks and dealing with payroll.

 

Podio was designed for business communication, staff communication and collaboration and sharing among team members. Podio is remotely hosted — meaning the service is cloud-based and accessible to all interested parties with nothing more than a password — and signup is free. From this single platform, you can stay in touch with your virtual operator(s), assign tasks, get feedback, handle scheduling and keep records, all in the same place.
Your local phone number is your anchor for doing business in a foreign country, but it requires both cutting-edge technology and an old-fashioned human being to back it up. Your customers have your number — it’s up to you to hire an operator and give him or her the technology needed to position yourself as a true global business.