When was the last time you bought something without casting your eye over an online review?
With the rise of social media for business, reviews, comments and other such interactions have acquired the power to make or break a brand – and their influence on the purchase decision is too important to be ignored.
Large organisations have addressed this shift in buying behaviour with dedicated customer care teams, social media monitoring and call centre budgets designed to ensure that every review makes the right kind of impact. But what if your business doesn’t have the funds, or the space, to consider this type of expansion?
Here’s where technology can help to level the playing field and enable entrepreneurs, start-ups and SME’s to compete in the same league. In this post, we’ll explore how smaller companies can use VoIP technology to drive real improvements in the way they interact with their audience, so that they can hold on to their customers and safeguard their reputation for the long term.
It’s good to talk
The first hurdle for some small companies is their ability to offer customers a reliable way to get in touch. Even if you have an informative website, a closely monitored email inbox and active social media feeds, it still feels natural to pick up the phone; with limited staff and no dedicated lines those inbound calls risk going unanswered.
What’s more, the social media feeds that have proved vital in handling some conversations have also led us to expect a much shorter response time when we have a question or complaint. If your customers aren’t prepared to wait whilst your phone rings out at an empty desk, the next number on their list might be your competitor’s.
Respond and react
With the right technology, even the smallest company can respond quickly and meet those high expectations. The first step is a reliable phone system that makes the best use of existing resources whilst ensuring world-class customer service at every touchpoint.
A cloud-based, VoIP communications package offers SMEs the opportunity to behave like the big boys without the need to invest in an all-singing, all-dancing call centre. With all the features of a premium, bespoke phone system, VoIP can help businesses generate loyalty, secure repeat business and build a strong corporate or brand reputation at a fraction of the cost. Typically, a package from a reputable provider will enable users to:
- Set up dedicated numbers that route to the next available extension
- Re-route calls to other locations during busy periods
- Create managed queues or divert calls via a virtual receptionist
- Record out-of-hours or other messages to manage expectations
- Divert to individual mobiles so that callers can speak to a named contact
- Send voicemails directly to the intended recipient
Longer term opportunities
The short term goals of minimising call abandonment rates and improving the customer experience are key to any growing business, but VoIP can deliver longer term benefits in this field too. Features that could make a difference include:
- Online access to reporting with immediate insight into call patterns and buying behaviour
- Historical data analysis that enables users to identify trends and resource accordingly
- Call monitoring and recording, with playback at the click of a mouse, to drive staff performance.
- Integration with industry-standard ticketing and CRM systems so that relevant customer information is displayed immediately for inbound calls
- A smartphone app that enables field- and home-based employees to make and receive calls on their office call plan and access voicemails wherever they are
- Dedicated “Customer Service Department” phone numbers that give the impression of a larger organisation
- The option to add and remove phone lines quickly and simply to account for seasonality, sales and other peak buying periods
Small businesses know that it is cheaper to retain existing customers than to attract new ones. Keep your audience happy and they are more likely to reward you with loyalty, repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations – not to mention those all-important online reviews.