The Throughlines Blog

Why we are not “virtual receptionists”: How Throughlines offers more.

Business, Communication, Patient care, Staff, Technology

I recently fielded a call from a clinic owner. They said:

“Currently, our virtual service answers our phones. They only take messages for us. This results in a LOT of phone tag.”

I was aghast. I sat there wide-eyed shaking my head for 5 minutes saying “No No No! This is not ‘virtual reception!’ I’m not sure what this is, but it’s hardly helpful!”

When I started this business, I knew the service I wanted to develop.

I’ve managed many admin teams throughout my career. I know the integral role they play in the smooth operation of any business.

Conversations such as these made me realise there was a fundamental gap in the market. Existing “virtual reception services” were failing clinic owners by underestimating the importance of their role. You’ll always find me air-quoting that term, because are they really offering ‘reception’ at all? If ‘Reception Management’ were a skyscraper, they are only offering the front door.

So, I built Throughlines – a considered, complete virtual reception management service…with no ‘phone tag’ in sight.

A reception team is the face of your business.

Your reception team or individual represents your company inside and out. An in-house receptionist working for a small business is the superhero who holds the operation together. They are often the PA, housekeeper, concierge, office manager, delivery driver, bookkeeper, stock control manager, cleaner, sales assistant and marketing manager…a true VIP of your business.

The biggest mistake small businesses make is to undervalue the reception role.

What “virtual receptionists” generally do

In essence, existing virtual reception services provide a telephone answering service for inbound calls. This may extend to forwarding a call, taking down a message, taking calls out of hours, and being a call gatekeeper. Providers of this service advertise the main benefit as having a ‘real person’ answering the phone, rather than a recorded message.

An unintended consequence

Although it is lovely to hear a person answer a call, this benefit is short-lived.

At first, the caller gets their hopes up as they hear a friendly voice. Then, more often than not, they soon feel defeated once they discover the voice is not there to:

  • action their need,
  • book them in,
  • answer their queries,
  • deal with their sensitive or unusual issue, or
  • direct them to the person they’d like to speak to.

Of course, there’s then a delay between the call request, and the provision of a solution by your clinic. This is stressful on all sides, especially if you are the person responsible for eventually getting back to your callers with the answers they need! There is little point to a telephone-answering service if you end up answering queries during your lunch hour or out-of-hours.

One of many…

Phone-focussed virtual receptionists usually manage inbound calls of many clients from varied industries. They learn little to no pertinent information about each client’s particular needs, offerings or brand personality.

It is usually outside of their role to understand:

  • the changing face of their client’s offers,
  • their particular clients, patients or customers,
  • the psychology of client retention, or
  • how to negotiate and manage difficult callers.


Your reception team should not be simply taking messages.

It’s well known that prospects create their first impressions of your business within the first 7 seconds of initial contact.

In order for that good first impression to continue past 7 seconds, your reception needs to provide swift solutions to their needs.

You spend so much time and money communicating your value to get people to pick up the phone or send an email to make that first inquiry. If your receptionist can’t help them at that point – if they can’t immediately express the value of your service – then there is a disconnect in the flow of that transaction. The good impression you made in your marketing has stagnated, and may not recover.

What Throughlines offers

As I said, when I started this business I knew the service I wanted to develop: the same authentic, valuable in-house reception experience but at a cheaper price and with far more benefits.

Our offering includes the following:

A dedicated reception management professional

We work WITH you, not for you. We become part of your team, and honour the trust you place in us as a face of your clinic.

Our on-boarding process more than just a checklist. We meet with you, the manager/owner of your practice, and go through a discovery session with you. Our aim is to fully engage with and understand your processes, people and values. We want to know exactly how you want your clinic represented.

You will have a dedicated Throughlines professional assigned to your clinic. They eagerly learn about your clinic’s unique assets. They take on the responsibility of how to manage every stakeholder/touchpoint in your business: your clients, patients, suppliers, couriers and staff.

Implementing a Continuous Improvement Model

We are experts in reception administration, technology and clinic-specific marketing. We love to apply our knowledge to your clinic so it can run better, and make everyone happier.

Continuous improvements can be made to your processes, technology, administration or communication.

When we notice we can make improvements to your productivity, customer experience or efficiency, we share this information with you, and apply it – you don’t have to lift a finger. The Continuous Improvement Model is proven to boost business efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately leading to better profits and streamlined operations.

Professional development at no cost to you

Throughlines places all our staff through continual professional development, building on their knowledge of Communication Psychology, Information Technology, Patient Management Systems, Empathy training and Administration.

Technology mastery (no more headaches)

Is technology a thorn in your side? Do you feel you’re not tech-savvy, or is your team resistant or daunted by the digital world?

Technology is Throughlines best friend, and should we work together, yours too.

Technology does not forget a single thing:

  • If you want to know when a person last got in touch, we can tell you.
  • If you want to know this person’s old email address, we can tell you.
  • If you want to know the increased number of new client enquiries since your latest marketing campaign, we can tell you. (In fact, you won’t have to ask because it’s all reported to you on a weekly basis)

Nor will you have to ask how many cancellations each of your practitioners receive on a weekly basis.

All the information needed to make crucial business decisions is in your inbox on a Monday morning.

Many clinics suffer from a strained relationship with technology. Or, are too time-poor to learn enough about a technology to make use of it. With us, your time is spent working within your strengths, as you are supported by a safety net of reliable, fast technology.

Custom technology development

We hit our fair share of road blocks when the technology available could only take us so far.
I can be pretty determined when I want to be, so where the technology wasn’t available, we developed it.
We work online and utilise technology to get the job done. Technology can achieve things our human brains could only dream of.

We’re at your service.

What eventuated from my initial business ideas is a service that surpasses the expectations of an in-house receptionist.

To us, virtual reception services extend far beyond answering calls. Throughlines is my vision of solutions-focussed reception management at its best. We can be your VIP.

If you need the tools, structure and personnel to take your business to the next level, let’s chat.

Katie Shanks

Founder, Throughlines

Work with Us

Go see our Support Services page to see how we work.