Businesses focus significant money and effort into their marketing efforts in the hopes that it will send new customers their way. However, as that traffic starts to come in, it's important that they have an experience that impresses them enough to come back later. But if a business doesn't deliver the high-quality products or friendly service promised, all that effort will be wasted.
A business's phone system is often the face of a company. Before making a purchase decision, customers often have questions. If they have a frustrating or disappointing experience trying to get the information they need, they may hang up and choose a competitor that is better equipped to serve its customers.
"Today's phone systems have advanced features that can make a one-person startup feel like a large operation," says Yuval Fine from Virtual Hosted PBX. "But many businesses make the mistake of not looking for a phone system designed with the customer experience in mind. Since this can differ from business to business, it's important to spend time on the front end deciding exactly the type of experience that's best for your customers."
Here are a few things that can help your business win loyal customers rather than scare them away.
The biggest customer service killer is a business's phone directory. Even with advanced features like voice recognition, these "phone trees" can put customers in endless loops. It's important to always offer callers the option to press zero to receive help from a live person. If you can't offer 24/7 support, make sure this option takes callers to a voice mailbox where they can leave a message and assign an employee to return those calls as quickly as possible. Regularly test out your own menus from the perspective of a new customer coming over after reading your marketing messages to ensure as you've expanded it, it still makes sense.
At one time, most work calls were handled through a handset on a desk in an office. Today's professionals don't sit at a desk all day, though, which means an increasing number of workers are interacting primarily using a cell phone. If your business doesn't have a phone system that can pull all of this together, you already may be losing customers to the competition. If your marketing efforts drive a customer to pick up the phone, the right solution can put them in touch with the best person to answer that caller's questions. Virtual telephone services like Grasshopper specialize in helping businesses run primarily from cell phones, allowing calls to route as needed. Best of all, voicemails in these systems are often provided as text, making it easy for busy professionals to quickly read them, rather than having to set time aside to listen to messages.
One of the biggest benefits of cloud-based solutions is that they allow for the growth a business will ideally experience over time. Search for a phone system that includes scalability as one of its features and you'll likely have a setup that lasts for many years. This includes the ability to easily add and remove employees, DIY updating of directory menus, and graceful handling of high call volumes at certain busy times. Without these features, you may find that potential customers are unable to get through when your system is handling a large number of calls.
Every tech-based system will occasionally malfunction. Whether it's a bug in the system or a server crash, you likely won't be able to fix any of these problems on your own. If your phone system goes down when calls are coming in, will your provider be available to fix the problem quickly? If not, you may find that potential customers are writing your business off when they can't get through. Good customer service means being able to count on your own vendors to offer helpful, reliable support to you when you need it.
Before creating your next marketing strategy, take time to ensure that your business is equipped to handle the new customers it will send your way. When customers can get quick, friendly answers to the questions they have, they're more likely to recommend your business to friends and associates, giving you additional reach through word-of-mouth marketing.