What Google Hangouts search results integration means for SMB communication Google just announced that it will let you call customers directly from the Google search results page. Here it is in action:
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Think of every single commercial you have ever seen. What are the three key things that the makers of the commercial tried to direct your attention to? Obviously the first would be the name of the business. The second would probably be what the business provides, be it products or services.
The third is of course a way to contact the business so that you can express an interests in said products and/or services. And that method of contact is almost always a phone number. “Call today!” is basically engrained in most of our ears at this point, and for good reason: if their customers cannot remember the phone number, then businesses won’t be on the receiving end of any calls- which means they won’t be on the receiving end of any cash transactions.
This is all to say that the decisions made by small businesses regarding their phone numbers are critically important to the success of those businesses in the future. Your number will follow you everywhere- to conferences, on your business cards, maybe even on the side of your company cars. Small businesses simply cannot make mistakes when deciding which path they will chose regarding their business phone number. And yet, by and large the subject does not get that much attention, in comparison to other parts of setting up a small business.
Well, we thought we would change that. Read on to find out everything you wanted to know (and didn’t know you needed to know!) about business phone numbers.
So might as well start off with the basics. And it does not get more basic than this: do you even need a business phone number?
It is not a small question. After all, according to the U.S Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. They make up 99.9% of all US businesses! That’s a lot of extra phone numbers. Are they all necessary?
Well, we would argue yes, for quite a few reasons. For one, having a dedicated business phone number just makes your life easier. If you have one number for both your personal and your private life, then every single phone call could be a business call- which means every call could potentially be from an angry client or relate to an unfulfilled order. Why give yourself a heart attack each time your phone starts ringing? Phone calls can be unnerving enough to make. No need to make each one even more stressful.
Having a business phone number also makes you come across as a more serious kind of person. Again, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the US. While many of those are “larger” small businesses (a “small business” can legally have up to five-hundred employees), a lot are smaller fish, who have small numbers of employees and cannot advertise like the larger businesses can. Those smaller businesses need to do everything they can to make the footing a bit more even between themselves and the larger businesses. One of those things is looking more professional. Being able to hand out business cards with an actual business number makes you come across as a real, serious business, as opposed to amateurish. The fact is, when someone is calling your business, they are not calling you (and they don’t really want to call you); they want to call your business. Make it easier for them and just give them a business number.
This also applies to our third reason, peace of mind. Your business number, if you end up successful, will be everywhere: on television ads, web banners, and of course, business cards. If you have one single personal and business fusion number, then that means your personal number is going to be everywhere as well. And, well, let’s be frank here: there are a lot of weird people out there. Do you really want to have your personal contact information plastered everywhere? Perhaps you are open minded, but we’d suggest you reconsider.
Even if you’ve decided in the affirmative for a business phone number, much like every other decision when running a business, finding an answer only leads to more questions. And this one is a biggie: what are you going to be using your new number with?
Some small businesses decide to use a dedicated phone number with a dedicated desk phone. This is understandable: that solid piece of plastic holds a lot of appeal for folks. It is reliable, hearty, and most importantly, something people recognize as real.
It is also probably a bad idea. A desk phone means you are permanently stuck with your desk if you need to make calls. Even if it is one of the cordless models, you still won’t have the maximum amount of freedom you otherwise could have.
The next most popular option is definitely one you have encountered before: getting a second cell phone. While it keeps the “dedicated phone equals dedicated phone number” concept, obviously having the second cell phone dramatically increases maneuverability and flexibility.
However, this can still cause problems. If you do not have the same make for each of your phones (personal and private), that means you are going to also have to carry two different charging cables, which could just get annoying. Even if you have the same make, you still have to be sure the batteries on both are always good. Twice the phone also means twice the likelihood of needing repairs, of losing it, of getting water on it, etcetera, etcetera.
On top of all this, carrying two phones is…well, like carrying two charging cables: it’s annoying. Do you want two phones in your pockets?
The next possible option for your business phone number is getting a number which is not tied to a physical phone: an online phone number. This is an idea that has steadily gotten more and more popular over the years, and with good reason. Online phone numbers combine the solidity of “normal” phone numbers (though, as you will see later, “normal” is a misnomer”) with the flexibility of the internet.
Your business number is essentially your business’ (which means your) lifeblood. It is central to your business’ success, so it is fairly understandable that you would want it to be safely and permanently under your control. This is one of the reasons that small business owners sometimes opt for one of the previous options we mentioned: there’s a feeling of security which comes from having a solid piece of plastic in your hand.
But much of that fear is misguided, and probably is simply an unconscious societal holdover from the Wild Wild West-style days of the internet circa 1999. Online phone numbers are highly developed, and the industry is tightly run and regulated. Your number isn’t just going to be yanked away from unscrupulous folks hiding behind a Inc. and a “.com” website address.
Not only that, but once you own your number, number is 100% yours. While some companies may charge a fee to port it elsewhere (not all companies do though), it becomes yours. This is also a reasonable concern amongst small business owners- no one wants to attach their brand name to a business phone number which may be insufficiently owned by themselves- but you can rest easy knowing that that will not be the case with online phone numbers.
In terms of safety- your number is frequently accessed via the internet (the “online” component of “online phone number”), and on many devices is protected with an online login/password. Of course many/all online phone number companies use apps, which you can remain logged into. You can also of course simply make calls with that number through the phone if you prefer that.
Okay, you say to yourself, it may be safe. But is it good? It’s an important question. But once again, it probably comes from far-off memories of eBay sales going awry in the internet days of yore. The fact of the matter is that nowadays, there are a ton of ways of figuring out whether or not something is worth buying. There are blogs, like the one you are currently reading. There are guest blog sites, like this one. There are review pages, both in places like the App Store (be it Apple or Android) and on various websites. There are forums in which people argue for days on end about which product is the superior product. While caution is good and necessary, especially when it deals with your business phone number, it is not exactly like you are throwing caution to the wind by going with an online phone number.
Plus, you have to think about all of the things an online business phone number brings to the table for your business. In a general sense, once again, that flexibility is really important. Not being tied down to a particular area or even a particular device is immensely helpful. For some companies, if you can get onto the internet and hear noise on the device and input noise into the device, you can make calls on it. It turns any computer, tablet, phone- and internet-connected device- into a place where you can make calls.
Which also means your coworkers can make calls. If your team of employees is built around moving around, this means that you all can log on from various areas and not need to worry about meeting up at key points or sharing the same number. Some companies allow for many or unlimited extensions, which basically means that your single business number can branch off endlessly, getting the best of both worlds: one single number with which to promote your business, but many different people who can answer calls coming down the line.
So you’ve decided you want to go in the online direction for your business phone number. Who do you go with?
Well, there are a lot of options, and again, it definitely matters what you wish to accomplish with it. Some companies get very specific with what they offer; some have hidden fees, and some may seem like great deals but then it turns out that they just want to force you to buy their hardware or something along similar lines.
To avoid all those problems, we’d recommend taking a look at MightyCall. MightyCall has no hidden fees and doesn’t need any unique hardware to run. It has three simple pricing plans, all of which have multiple extensions (which we talked about above), as well as loads of other special features.
Your business phone number is you. It’s your business, your livelihood- the way you connect with the world. Take it seriously. Look into turning your business phone number into an online business phone number today.
Get a 50% discount on MightyCall for your first month.
If you already have a virtual phone number, we can port it in for free so you can keep using it.
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