Why Start a Business If No One Can Get Hold of You?
When running a small business there’s not much choice in terms of devices you can use to communicate with customers. It really comes down to two — a cell phone and a computer. And since around half of SMBs in the US don’t even bother to have a website, it becomes clear that choosing a good cell phone plan is as essential as not forgetting it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday. And technological progress isn’t to blame here — for the majority of customers, an old-fashioned phone conversation is still the preferred way to do business.
Freeway to freedom
Holidays, family dinners, nights out with friends, a decent night’s sleep — these are all the usual parts of life a normal person leads. Nobody wants them to be compromised. These even might have been the reasons you started your own business in the first place — to be available to your family or the flexible life of an entrepreneur you’ve imagined so many times. Of course, you never thought it would be easy. Finally, you’ve managed to overcome all the obstacles that were in the way, thought out hundreds of little and not-so-little things and got your business up and running.
Soon, your marketing efforts start to pay off. People are getting to know about you and the amount of calls that require your attention is slowly increasing. You start feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the incoming communication. You really want to be available, you even have a separate phone to handle business calls, but there are some situations when you can’t answer the call and the day comes when you just turn it off when the clock hits nine pm.
The list of these situations could go on and on: you’re on a call or serving a client in person; you can’t get a cell phone signal; you’re not yet ready to go out on your own, running a side business while still working a full-time job — your boss won’t be happy if your phone keeps ringing in meetings, so you’re forced to decide whether to miss it or hang up. You’re forced to lose a client.
You understand very well that unanswered calls can cost you customers, but there are parts of your life that just cannot be sacrificed.
There’s no bright side
Just kidding! We all know that there is always a way out from every situation and with the tech revolution that’s still underway, the possibility that there is no solution to address needs of millions of small business owners tends to zero. We’ve previously talked about the history of a piece of the technological charge called ‘intellectual call routing’ (ICR), taken from big corporations and made available to SMBs by companies like MightyCall. Surprisingly, it can make all your problems — well, at least some of them — go away. Customer communication-related problems, of course.
What ICR can do for you
- Stay connected
A single business number is one of the greatest advantages. Apart from the obvious inconvenience caused by sharing your personal phone number with lots of people, a sole contact number makes you much more accessible to callers, especially when you have business partners who can share the load.
Instead of calling your personal cell, your customers and suppliers dial a business phone number and you can choose the “route” you want them to follow. Perhaps you want to create a “line,” so your personal phone rings first and then after, say, 10 seconds the call goes to your partner’s phone. Or maybe you prefer all connected phones to ring simultaneously, or even to “bind” a particular caller to yourself. ICR is convenient for both you and your clients.
It can actually substitute for an entire device — no separate business cell is required! When a customer calls you, your business number is displayed, so you know in advance that the call’s connected to your business and isn’t just a sales person offering you that “great” new insurance plan.
- A good night’s sleep
For example, you want the callers to only be able to reach you from nine am to seven pm. Instead of turning your phone down in the evening, you can just set working hours. After hours your callers will hear your personal voice greeting and can leave a voicemail. Better than the old-fashioned message merely stating the hours of operation.
If you’re in a meeting with a client, simply changing your status to “unavailable” will let the system know that the call should be transferred to a voicemail or to another person of your choice. That way you’ll always know that when you’re busy, your partners can take care of the call.
- Always give the right answer
What if a customer asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, but your business partner does? If you use your cell you have no option but to offer to call back, leaving the caller unsatisfied. ICR allows you to redirect callers on the go. You can choose whether to put the person on hold while you make your call, or just transfer the call to your partner by pressing a couple of buttons.
It is not just about phones
In spite of the fact that voice calling remains the most popular option for the majority, we cannot deny the fact that internet communication is rapidly gaining popularity, especially among the younger generation. So if you want to keep up with those customers who prefer internet communication over voice calling, you probably already have a website, Facebook or Twitter community, not to mention email. With those additions, you basically have four different channels to follow.
ICR allows you to manage all the interactions you have with your clients using a single app on your smartphone. The system prioritizes them so you always see which ones should be attended to first. Whether it’s a call, a voicemail, a Facebook message, a text or an email, you’re always available to your clients. The callers can reach you easily, meaning that no part of your advertising budget goes to waste.
Oh this mad, mad world…
Due to the increasingly rapid pace of life we’ve all lost patience. Customers have become spoiled. When they want to reach you, they want it to be quick and easy. They hate waiting in lines, hate being put on hold and even worse — getting a “busy” signal or “unavailable” message when they call a business.
That’s why, aside from a well-designed website, your office location and convenient opening hours, making it easy for people to reach your business is essential. Even though word of mouth still works, no matter how good your service or marketing is if you’re not reachable to the customer you’re simply non-existent. The Yellow Pages is flush with ads for your competitors — who wouldn’t just go to the next one on the list if there are hundred more errands to run today?
So the question really is: why not be reachable if you can be?
Check out these articles to learn how to provide your callers with even better customer service: