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Catering to personalities – phone or online?

Everybody has their own preferences: dark chocolate or white chocolate, crime fiction or romantic comedy, speaking to a sales person, or doing your own internet research about a product? Customers are always going to have a preference about how they would like to contact a business. Some may like to fill in a form on a website and others may like to pick up the phone and call.

A few years ago the trend was for companies to encourage all customers to contact them online. But now they have realised some consumers need, and want, personal interaction when deciding to purchase a service or product. This is especially true for online retailers as some people still have some reservations around purchasing from an unknown site.

To grow a successful business you need build trust with customers and make sure your customers can contact you in the manner in which they would like to, when they would like to.

If you can get your customers to call it is an added opportunity to make more, or bigger, sales. So how can you do this?

Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers, once the domain of large corporations due to the cost, are now affordable to all businesses, large and small. They entice customers to call, and call more often, by providing a free, or cheaper, avenue to do so.

Another added bonus of toll-free numbers is portability. If your business moves to a different location there is no need to change your phone number and miss out on sales calls. It can also help your business to appear larger and more professional than it is.

Call management

Once customers are calling, you want to make sure they are handled in the correct way. This is where call management comes in.

Call routing can put in place tools such as call distribution – sending the call to the correct department, or location and time routing – transferring calls to different locations based on the time the call is made.

The result is that after hours, you can still make a sale. Calls can be directed to a mobile phone, ensuring no calls, and therefore no potential sales, are lost.

Smart numbers

Ever wanted to call the local pizza takeaway or gym and found you couldn’t remember the number? Afraid this may happen when people want to call your business but can access anything to look the number up? Then you may want to think about smart numbers.

Smart numbers, or phone words, are words added to your 13, 1300 or 1800 number and are a great marketing tool to help customers recall your phone number. Research by Phone Name Marketing Australia (June 2004) found that use of a smart numbers can result in an increase in response rates to campaigns by 290 per cent.

They are also a great tool to reinforce your brand and make sure you are easily contactable by customers who may not be near a computer or phone book to be able to look-up your phone number.

So what are you 1800 WAITING FOR?

Give customers what they want

At the end of the day, customers want great service and a fast response, whether this be online or offline.

This is especially true in today’s instant response world driven by platforms such as Twitter, mobile phones, online shopping and iPads.

Don’t ever leave a customer wondering why they weren’t important enough for you to answer, or return, their call. Being reliable means customers are more likely to trust your brand and feel comfortable purchasing your products.

– Kim Irvine is the General Manager of Zintel

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