When it comes to technology and phone systems for small businesses, there’s never an easy solution or a one-size-fits-all fix. But like with any piece of office equipment, the more features you choose, the more you’ll likely be paying for. Knowing what the common phone system mistakes are that most small businesses make and working to avoid them can help save your business a lot of money. Remember, a phone system doesn’t have to be overly complex to be useful and effective for your business. To help, here are some common missteps with phone systems that small businesses make that you may not realize are costing you money.
Selecting the wrong number.
Some small businesses choose a vanity number thinking that they’ll be more memorable for customers. But a number like 1-800-YOUR-BIZ is a poor choice for multiple reasons. They’re difficult for the caller to dial and also don’t connote small or local, meaning this poor judgement call could be costing potential customers. Stick with a local area code in the phone number and consider even have a direct phone number option so customers can dial certain employees directly instead of the main business line.
Hiring a vendor, not a partner.
Oftentimes, small businesses choose a phone company they’ve simply used before out of familiarity. But vendors may simply be matching needs and wants with products that offer them the best margin. When you find a phone company partner, you’ll know because they offer you support and advice on the next step and they help you separate your wants from your needs. Explore your options when choosing your provider and don’t fall into the trap of going with the obvious and then incurring ongoing middleman costs or being saddled with phones that are poor quality and hard to replace simply because a vendor has an agreement with a specific manufacturer.
Picking a phone system solely on price.
Anytime you’re looking at a price of a phone system, you have to look beyond just the monthly fee towards the total cost. With traditional phone systems, you must factor in the hardware, installation, ongoing maintenance and any future enhancements you want to make as your business expands. These phone systems may require new routers and switches, even upgrading of your internet service provider.
Selecting a phone system without factoring in the customer experience.
Before you install or change your phone system, ask yourself what kind of experience you want your customers to have when they call your business? Consider navigating the phone system from their perspective and that will help you distinguish which features like voicemail, auto-attendants, company directories, music on hold and call-queuing you may need. Always think about testing your phone system from every possible angle and seeing if there are discrepancies before pushing your phone system live.
Not answering calls. This may sound like a given but one of the biggest expenses for small businesses are missed sales opportunities. Did you know the average small business misses 40 per cent of sales related phone calls? And that 85 per cent of calls that go to voicemail don’t leave messages? A feature to implement to solve this is a hold queue system which keeps callers on the line without giving them a busy signal. Call waiting also allows employees to answer calls and place callers on hold.
Not employing an after-hours feature in the phone system.
Your phone system should follow the same hours as your business. There are systems that can establish parameters for when the phones can receive calls and after that, an after-hours message allows the call to be designated and routed accordingly. You don’t want customers waiting on the other end of the line and never answered. Pre-recorded messages can instruct callers when and how to get in touch.
Failing to have an automatic call menu.
Think of this scenario where you’ve already made a sale with a client and are on the line with them but a potential customer calls and is not able to connect with an employee. A call menu can help prompt a caller and differentiate between pre-sales and post-sales calls so you don’t lose a potential customer. This way, sales or questions can be directed to the proper member of your team while existing clients can be channeled to another.
Selecting a phone system that isn’t a good fit for your company.
Many organizations can under- or over-estimate their business growth and then choose a system that is too costly and not flexible for what the reality is. They also sign long contracts which extend beyond 12 months and that’s not a wise move as telecommunications trends are continually changing. Per minute billing, minimum charges and call setup fees are also other things to watch for when you do a features/functionality selection checklist. Doing this simple exercise may help determine if you need certain features like blocking certain outgoing calls or numbers or allowing certain staff to call internationally, saving you expenses in the long-term.