To survive in today's fast-paced business world, companies need to stand out. While some leaders are focusing on ways to differentiate their brands online through social media, content marketing, and other digital marketing efforts, smart businesses are also nurturing their voice channel. Having a brand-appropriate phone presence gives your business a personal voice.
The telephone is an old-world communications medium, but customers, clients, and partners expect businesses to have a voice channel, and for that channel to reflect the professionalism of the business's brand. Simply listing a phone number isn't enough to get your "voice presence" across the right way. Neglecting your voice channel can have a negative impact on your brand image, causing customers to question your professionalism and potentially shift their business elsewhere.
Here are 5 mistakes small business make when it comes to their phone service, and ways to avoid them...
1. Voice Greeting Not Brand-Aligned
Small business owners often don’t have the resources or the need for a sophisticated phone system, so they rely on personal cell phones to connect with team members and customers. While combining work and personal lines does save money, it can backfire when it comes to your brand image. If a customer, client, or business partner calls your personal cell phone number and reaches you at a bad time (like during happy hour) or is forwarded to a personal message (like, “Hey, it’s Jim. I never listen to voicemail so I probably won’t call you back!”), they probably won’t be impressed – or worse, never call back.
2. Forgettable Number Makes Business Look Smaller Than Intended
Choosing a business phone number with repeating digits or a pattern not only makes it easy for your customers to remember, but can also impact perception -- a brand that has invested in its voice channel feels more established and professional. Utilizing a toll-free number (e.g., virtual number) can also help small businesses appear larger and more credible, even if it’s just you and a small team working from home.
3. Choosing the Wrong Area Code Can Cost Your Business
Trying to sell over a wide geographic region can be difficult if you’re calling or offering phone support from an out of area number. Customers are more likely to answer incoming local numbers and are also more likely to do business with local businesses. Choosing area codes within your target geographic region or using a toll free number sends a certain signal about your business goals and could help your conversion rate. You can easily obtain multiple virtual numbers so you have a presence in more than one geographic area.
4. Lack of Extensions May Confuse, Irritate Callers
Telling callers that they need to dial a different phone number for their billing or support inquiry because you don't have extensions can confuse, irritate, or even anger callers -- deterring them from calling back. By utilizing a phone system with extensions to route incoming calls to other departments or offering a touchtone menu, you can provide convenient, professional service while also freeing up your own time!
5. Missing Messages & Slow Response Times Reflects Poorly on Your Brand
No one likes listening to voicemails, but what good is a message if you never retrieve it? Choosing a business phone service that offers voicemail transcription makes it easier to manage and view voice messages, ensuring you can help customers when they need it. Responsiveness is key to your brand's reputation. It's much faster to review a voicemail transcription than to find the time (or remember!) to listen to the voicemail. Voicemail transcription helps you get back to the customer faster, earning your brand top marks for customer service.
Having the best social media or email campaigns will not help if your voice channel is out of order. All businesses that rely on voice communications in any way must consider their phone presence to ensure that this element of their brand matches their overall business goals and image.
Have you employed any interesting voice channel techniques to support your business brand? Do you use virtual numbers in your voice presence strategy? Share your comments, questions and challenges with us in the comments below or on our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.