So – you’ve set up your business bank accounts. You’ve talked to your mentors and business coaches. You have your branding planned out, and your business cards are at the printers.
However, there are a few other things you need to add in to make your recipe for a new business stand out from the crowd.
A good website is a must, and can be worth its weight in gold. You may need to hire appropriate staff too. Having a good bank of potential customers or prospects will also help.
Another thing to think about is a professional phone system. It can mean the difference between an okay customer experience, and a great customer experience.
There are three things that are a must for a business phone service. These apply whether you are just starting up, or growing. You may even have been in business for a while, and are only now putting the finishing touches to how your company presents itself to customers.
We’ll run through them now, what they are, and just how important they can be:
1) An IVR Menu
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. This is the system that directs callers to the most appropriate person to answer. You are bound to have encountered them when you call other companies.
“Thank you for calling,” a calm professional voice intones. “Press one for accounts, press two for sales.”
You press the desired option, and are put through. Imagine the same scenario, but in a company where everyone is using a mobile.
“Hello? Who is this?” The person answering , using his own mobile, is not sure whether this is a work or personal call, so is unsure which phone voice to put on.
“Oh right, sorry, I can’t help I’m afraid. You need to talk to Mary, she has access to our accounts system” (The caller wants to discuss an invoice). “Can you call her back on…” and the person answering gives them Mary’s number.
Professional is not the first word that springs to mind.
Having callers route to the best person, in the most efficient and friendly way possible, is an easy and impactful way of improving the customer experience.
2) A Ring Group
Also known as a ‘Hunt Call Group’, this is a feature embedded within how your phone system will operate. Your phone system Provider will probably set this up on your behalf. They can work in a few ways, the most common being to either ring all the phones at once, or to ring a designated person first, and progress through possible Team Members until someone answers, or it goes to voicemail.
It sounds quite a simple addition, but in fact it makes a huge difference. If you have a receptionist, calls go straight to them. They then chat to the caller, and put them through to the best person to help. If the receptionist has stepped away from their desk for a moment, or is on holiday, then the next person designated to answer gets the call. No need to take someone away from their own duties to ‘man the front desk’.
It means that no call is missed. Even if the second designated person is off, the call will keep going round the Ring Group options until it finds someone to answer.
A Ring Group can also be set to send the call to all available phones simultaneously. This is more suitable for an environment like a Call Centre or Help Centre. This way, the call will be picked up by the next person available. This minimises caller waiting times, and makes the most productive use of staff time.
A Ring Group set up is a very important, and often over-looked, part of a good business phone system.
Having one, or even multiple Ring Groups set up correctly can vastly improve the customer experience.
3) Transferring Calls
The ability to transfer calls might seem so obvious it’s taken for granted, especially for anyone used to a business phone set up. But remember that many companies have a disparate remote office set up now, which they were not prepared for. Also, many smaller companies or Sole Traders would always have used their own phone, either a landline or a mobile. I personally remember calling a local plumber once, only to have the phone answered by their eight year old boy! (He actually did quite well – he answered politely, but unfortunately couldn’t arrange a booking for me.)
This might be okay for one person, working alone (although by no means ideal, read about some of the problems of using a personal mobile for work purposes)
When it comes to a team of two or more people, you really need to be able to seamlessly transfer calls from one to the other.
Having to make multiple calls to confirm something, book something or pay for something, is likely to put customers off.
In the example above, I made light of talking to the plumber’s son. But, in actual fact, when the lad’s mother took the phone, she asked me to call the plumber himself on a mobile number, so I did and left a message. In the end, I booked with another company, who answered more professionally, put me through to a subject expert to ask some questions, then put me back through to their admin person to make a booking.
The moral here is that you want to make your customer’s lives as easy as possible. You should be removing barriers from having conversations with customers, not building them through the way your company works.
By simply incorporating three things into your company’s tool set, you can make a real difference to how customers interact with you, and consequently how they perceive you.
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