Today we have a guest blog post from Ashley Verrill who works as a CRM Market Analyst and Managing Editor for Software Advice.
As a small business, the way you do business and how 'easy' it is to do business with you can be the catalyst in the growth and success of your company. In today's instant-gratification obsessed society, you should strive to remove every possible barrier – especially when it comes to contacting you.
Consider, for example, that 71 percent of customers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service, and the average value of a lot customer is $243. While digital contact channels are rising in popularity, 79 percent of customers still prefer to contact companies over the phone.
So let me ask you a few questions: Do you know whether your phone system is making it easy for the customer to do business with you? Are they never getting a busy signal, experiencing multiple transfers, or leaving several messages before getting a response?
If the answer is “I don't know,” or “no,” it's time you seriously rethink the way your business phone system is operating. In this article, I will describe how leveraging a VoIP system can help your small business gain and retain more customers by communicating more like a sophisticated enterprise.
Keep Your Phone Lines Open 24 Hours, No Receptionist Needed
“For us, it’s not just about looking big—it’s also about looking professional, because very sophisticated business people and investors are calling into our phone system. We can’t afford to look small and unsophisticated,” APA Financials owner Stefan Horbonis told us about his decision to go for VoIP.
For example, some vendors provide an auto attendant and intelligent call routing so callers are automatically greeted with a recorded message and directed to the appropriate contact, even if they’re not in the office. Even if you run a very small business, your auto-attendant can offer the caller different “departments,” such as billing or client services. This also works in situations where you work in the field. Many VoIP systems can transfer calls to a cell phone, so calls are forwarded regardless of their location.
Even if you have a receptionist, the auto-attendant routes calls to another line so the person doesn't sit on hold.
Voicemail to Email Conversion Keeps Messages from Falling Through the Cracks
Imagine you've left the country for a business trip or vacation. If you're a one-man company, you're cell phone might be the only device calls are routed to. But what if the network at your destination isn't reliable?
VoIP systems can also be programmed to transfer voicemails to your inbox. As soon as someone leaves a voicemail, you receive a message with the recording. Given the inevitable lapses in communication that often accompany travel due to time zone differences and unreliable cell phone service, voicemail to email conversion helps ensure that important messages are promptly received and answered.
This is also helpful in cases where your cell phone was lost, or you want to refer back to a message you already deleted from your phone. It's like a paper trail for your voicemail.
Adjust Your Features as Needed
Many VoIP systems offer an online management platform that allows users to quickly change settings. This feature helps small businesses maintain an efficient, professional appearance despite periods of rapid growth or change.
Think, for example, if you added employees for the holidays, or a group of people are heading out of town for a conference. You can quickly and immediately adjust call routing or forwarding, create new lines and add new users.
So What Image is Your Phone System Impressing on the World?
A phone call is often the first interaction customers have with your company. You need to ensure that communication is professional, seamless and efficient. If you haven't yet, it's time to take a hard look at what your phone system is telling the world about what it's like to do business with you.
Don Sadler contributed to this report.