The growing challenges facing a new business often leave one wondering how to use the phone to encourage success. This article will look at how to use phone to benefit your business, empower your team, and satisfy your customers.
The phone doesn’t have to be a hindrance for small businesses
It can be a challenge to attain the level of authority and professionalism to which you aspire. Your product is ready and your team is chomping at the bit; but building a good reputation is a lengthy and arduous process. However, there are some ways to tweak your company’s image. You can do so in order to seem larger than you are, older than you are, and more established. The phone channel can help.
The objective is to garner customers’ and prospective clients’ trust. It is also to create an efficient and useful channel through which to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
There exist several misconceptions about the phone channel being a legitimate part of a small business’ strategy. They include the fear of being overwhelmed by calls, the thought that taking calls at all is pointless, or that alternative channels have made a rapport over the phone obsolete.
That’s just not the case. The phone channel has evolved. VoIP technology has made the phone a more advanced tool than ever. Here’s how to use the phone in a way that is instrumental to growing and solidifying your business, improving your product, and satisfying your customers.
How to use the phone to benefit your small business
The phone channel is a necessary component of any business’ organization, regardless of size. Here are ways to use VoIP business phone technology to your advantage in order to develop your business’ favorable reputation.
Displaying a phone number on your website is an imperative from day one. You might be worried about being overwhelmed with a large volume of calls as a result, but fear not. The phone channel can be an asset to your business from the start.
Make yourself available
First, displaying a phone number lets customers and prospects know that they can call. It doesn’t mean that they will call. This show of transparency will foster trust between your business and your customers, since the latter will feel valued and cared for. Conversely, if your phone number is hidden or difficult to find, it won’t deter people from calling since they’ll still have questions and issues which need resolution. In fact, customers in need will still call, but they’ll be that much more irritated when they do, after having had to trawl through your website to find your number.
Second, it will allow you to stay close to your customers from the get-go. Curious prospects might choose any channel you provide to get in touch with you. But those who pick the phone will open the door to a more in-depth initial discussion. This means giving you a more qualified lead than if you had exchanged a couple emails. Sales teams use the phone for a reason: the channel is the most personal, the most human, and makes for more valuable exchanges. That’s why the phone can be a useful tool for client conversion A prominent phone number alongside a sign-up field and a live chat box is the winning trifecta for converting website visitors to paying customers.
Use the phone channel from your business’ infancy, and you will reap the benefits in the form of increased legitimacy and transparency in your clients’ eyes. It’s never too early to focus on customer centricity. When trying to qualify a lead, present an upselling opportunity, or follow up on a support ticket, the phone remains the most efficient method of collecting information. Having a visible phone number says, “we welcome client input, and we’ll do our best to help”.
Control your image
It can be a challenge to project a professional image when your business is still starting out. If your company is still quite small, you may wish to seem bigger than you are in order to garner trust.
Virtual business phone solutions can help in that regard. For companies like Monnier Frères, the flexibility of virtual business phone systems was a huge asset.You can control your phone presence in various ways, to serve the branding your want for your business:
- Toll-free numbers are free for the person calling them. Getting a memorable 800- number can go a long way in making a small business seem much larger. It’s a good way to seem more legitimate, since toll-free numbers give an impression of stability and solidity to your business.
- Local numbers are available with virtual business phone providers in countries all over the world. Getting multiple local numbers will give an impression of proximity and “terroir” flair to your clients wherever they may be. If your business often deals in outbound calls, clients and prospects are more likely to take calls from unknown, but local numbers.
Another way that a virtual business phone system can give authority and weight to your small business is by hiring virtual members of your staff. If you’re just starting out and operate with limited staff, you could consider hiring a virtual receptionist. This person could work part time and remotely, thereby saving you expenses on salary and office space. Yet they would benefit your business by presenting a professional front to inbound callers, who won’t know that this person is taking calls from their living room. Virtual employees can be immensely beneficial to small companies, which leads me to the next point:
Meet customer expectations
VoIP business phones are accessible through your computer from anywhere, just so long as you have a stable internet connection. This means that the technology is much more flexible and mobile than traditional phone systems.
Your coworkers can access your business’ phone system from anywhere, be it for sales or support. This means being able to maintain a professional and efficient phone channel even if:
- Your team is quite small.
- You don’t have a physical office.
- Your team works remotely, either fully or in part.
- Perhaps your team is mobile.
- Your team works from abroad.
This last point is especially important: you’d be able to have a delocalized presence while remaining a cohesive team. Being in local in different countries means being present for customers in different languages and in different time zones. VoIP business phones let you configure custom opening hours, so your team can function as a well-oiled machine. You can work as a team, from anywhere, anytime. Your customers won’t tell the difference. But they will appreciate being able to reach you easily, and be met with attentive and efficient support.
Virtual business phone software lets your team freely share information. You can share contacts, tasks, annotated calls and more. Managers will have a centralized view of your operation’s phone communications. This will give you the possibility of analyzing your communications data and draw meaningful conclusions. This type of resource is no longer reserved for established businesses with dedicated data analysts; it’s a fully-fledged feature of many VoIP business phone systems.
Moreover, you can integrate your phone system with your CRM tool, helpdesk, alternative channel providers, etc. This way, your whole team will be on the same page and the information you glean over the phone will flow freely. This will boost collaboration and let you react quickly and coherently to customer expectations. Even if you are still a small operation, you can use your VoIP business phone to seem much more established than you really are.
Thanks to VoIP technology, your team will be empowered to collaborate more efficiently. You can use the phone channel in ways that make considerations of time and physical space less of a hindrance for both sales and support.
How to use the phone as a factor in your growth
Aside from its flexibility, versatility, and mobility, VoIP business phone technology is a formidable tool on the customer end of things as well. It can vastly reduce your Customer Effort Score, and increase satisfaction.
The phone channel has evolved a great deal with the advent of VoIP technology. Service providers work very hard to make the phone an asset for you and your customers. For example, consider the following features which are a staple of business phone software:
- Interactive voice response: IVR filters inbound phone calls to direct them towards the available person most qualified to take the call. This means better routing, shorter wait times, and increased first call resolution, all this without having to involve a receptionist.
- Automatic call-back: This feature lets customers ask to be contacted back. This way, they’re not waiting on hold, and this gives your team time to collect their bearings before getting back to them. Everyone wins.
- Click-to-call: Add a button to your website which lets people also equipped with VoIP technology to get in touch with a single click. This is a shortcut to a well-displayed phone number, and saves the customer even more effort.
How to use the phone to reduce friction
These features make the phone channel a way to improve customer satisfaction by lowering friction between the customer and your business. They all make it easier to stay in touch and find solutions to support issues.
The phone can also be a way to proactively satisfy your customers. You can make judicious use of phone campaigns to onboard customers, keep them informed of new features or releases, and drive product adoption. You can also solicit feedback to improve your product and service. The trick is to add value to such interactions in order to not waste customers’ time.
Alternative channels all have their merits, but the phone is the one which manages to combine human involvement with expeditiousness in this manner.
Best practices on how to use the phone channel
If you manage to make the phone (and everything else) work for your growing business, you’ll soon be facing the challenges that come with success. Here’s how to adapt your use of the phone channel in order for it to evolve alongside your business.
How to scale
Once your business takes off, you’ll have to scale your operation, including your business phone system. The changes to your staff are one thing, employee training is another. But at least your VoIP business phone system itself will comfortably scale with you.
Since you are billed by user, you can add and remove coworkers from your plan in a few clicks. VoIP empowers remote and virtual employees as well. Even if the physical organization of your team members takes a while, everyone will be able to use the phone.
How to get more phone calls
Customer retention is key to growing your business. If you don’t notice customer engagement taking off, your client base is in danger of churning. Making the most out of the analytical capabilities of your VoIP phone system is important here.
Encourage customers to get in touch with your business. Let them give feedback and impressions, ask questions, tell you how to improve. This will be invaluable to a growing business, and phone calls are an important part of giving customers a voice.
How to get better phone calls
This is where it becomes interesting to make your phone strategy work in conjunction with alternative channels. Once you earn more clients you’ll start to field repetitive support demands.
In that case, providing alternative methods of support, such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and tutorials can help solve recurring support issues without needing to call. This will take a load off your phone lines, leaving only the hairiest of problems to tackle. You team will have a better idea of what still requires improvements, and clients will be satisfied with the improved customer service.