Text messages, online chat and social media have all opened up two-way conversations and brought brands closer to their customers, but despite all of this, there are times when only a phone call will do.
Why do phone calls still matter?
We all have our preferred modes of communication – some of us like nothing more than a chat, while others like to get things done by email or text. But if you’re running a business, there are many reasons to prioritise your phone system:
- A human voice. Building relationships means having that element of personal contact with your colleagues and clients. If you’re available to talk on the phone, it’s so much easier to make a human connection. That rapport can’t easily be achieved through emails or enquiry forms, and it works in both directions: you and your colleagues will learn more about your customers’ needs when you speak to them directly. And (if you have a good phone manner) your customers are likely to be more tolerant of mistakes, less frustrated when things go wrong, and ultimately, stay loyal to your brand.
- Real-time interaction. If something urgent crops up, a phone call can address matters quicker than almost any other means of communication. You eliminate the need for back-and-forth messaging and the potential for misunderstandings. With public-facing phone calls, resolving problems quickly and efficiently will improve customer satisfaction. Among colleagues, a quick chat will save time and ensure you’re on the same page.
- Credibility. It’s sometimes hard to know who’s lurking behind an online presence, and if a business doesn’t look legit, customers are likely to exercise caution. Having a physical address and being contactable by phone will position your brand and business as trustworthy – especially important if you’re competing with a number of online rivals.
- Reach across the digital divide. Even in the age of the smartphone, there are still some people who can’t, or choose not to, access the internet. Don’t let them fall through the cracks – make sure there’s always a number they can call to get in touch. Depending on your audience demographic, introducing a customer care line could boost your consumer base and bring you considerably more business.
Phone problems to avoid
Most businesses will have some form of telephone number, even if it’s just a sole trader with a personal mobile. But just having a number isn’t enough: phone-based blunders can be a real turn-off for customers.
Here are some phone problems your business should take steps to avoid:
- A bad line. Good call quality is really important. If you keep breaking up, new callers won’t give you a second chance, and you’re unlikely to maintain a good relationship with your existing clients.
- The phone ringing off the hook. Like the team at Croft, it’s good practice to answer the phone within 3 rings; if you don’t, the caller may never ring back. Out of hours? Make sure you have a professional-sounding answerphone message – and a consistent system to ensure you receive and reply to any voicemails left.
- Frustrating phone menus. Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Troubleshooting… But what if you just want to speak to someone? If you do set up a menu to help route customers to the right department, make sure it’s easy to use and always includes an option to speak to an operator.
- Getting passed around. If you do need to transfer someone, make sure it’s to a person who can genuinely help them. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than getting put through to a new department and having to explain their entire issue yet again – before being told they’re talking to the wrong team.
- Extortionate call rates. People will be put off contacting you if it eats up their credit. A freephone or local rate number will encourage callers to get in touch.
Is your phone system up to the job?
Is your current communications infrastructure robust enough to deal with demand? A good business phone system could help you to grow your business, work more efficiently and build a reputation for fantastic customer service.
- Improve customer call rates. Make sure you have enough capacity to deal with demand. Do people ever have trouble getting through? Could you expand your business if you were available to answer more calls? A solution that worked when it was originally set up may no longer be fit for purpose. Multi-line phone systems are a potential solution if you’re looking to extend your capacity.
- Make your customers happier. People don’t have the time to wait around. If they can’t get hold of you, they’ll either go elsewhere or become increasingly frustrated with your company. Don’t let that happen! Features like call waiting and customisable ringtones can help you ensure that you never miss an important call.
- Enable mobile and remote working. If you have employees working off-site, it’s essential to have the telecommunications set-up to support this. A hosted telephony system based in the Cloud means that calls can be easily diverted to any location – so people can work from home more easily. You can even set up business mobiles for working on the move, or set up unified communications to connect your phone system with your emails, faxes, instant messaging and more.
- Promote a professional image. Many people’s first encounter with your business will be when they pick up the phone. Make sure you make a good impression! A good phone system will let you record a professional-sounding hold message (although it’s best if you don’t need to put them on hold in the first place!), route calls directly to the right users, and transfer calls easily between colleagues. Call recording and call history are also important tools which can help you keep track of conversations and monitor call quality.
At Croft Communications, we’re experts in business telephony. We’ll help you set up a business phone system that works for you. Contact us on 01920 466466 to find out more or get a free tailored quote for your business.