If you are a small business owner, you are located in a small personal office or you work from home, you probably use either a cell phone or personal landline as your business phone. When you call a potential client, what shows up on their called ID? What do potential clients hear when they call and want to leave you a voicemail? What if they simply want to know your hours of operation or fax number? You may not realize this but your telephone system’s features, including your caller ID display and voicemail greeting, have a major impact on how others see your brand.
Unless you are part of a company that has the resources to allow for a rather expensive professional telephone system, you probably have just the basics. Most small businesses do not have the resources or even the need for such an elaborate telephone system. But it would be nice, right? So chances are you are using the voicemail system offered as part of your landline or personal cell phone package.
Last year I wrote an article titled Making Small Business Look Bigger that offered some tips on how you can make your small business not seem so, well, small. The article briefly covered topics such as having a professional telephone system along with others tips on how to make your small business look bigger and better. Having a professional telephone service is one of the best ways to do this relatively quickly and yes, inexpensively.
What people see and hear when they deal with your company has a significant impact on how they view your brand. It can also make a difference in their choice of whether to work with your business or not. Your telephone system is essentially an extension of your brand and quite often your first impression on potential new clients. So it is important that the look and feel of your brand is extended to include your telephone system, as well.
There are several companies out there that provide professional services at costs that are not prohibitive to small business owners. When we first started IPWatchdog, Inc. we were working from a home office so rather than use our home phones, we decided that we needed a more appropriate phone service for our business. Our cell phones were OK, but they are unpredictable as far as dropped calls, call waiting notification and so on. So after doing some research we decided that Grasshopper was the best choice for our business because it was affordable, easy to use and gave us many different options that a home phone or cell phone did not have to offer. In fact, even as we have grown, we have continued to use their services.
So, what does a professional telephone system have to do with your brand and how does your telephone system make your business look bigger? A brand can essentially be defined as the way that others perceive your company, products and services. It is what others think of when they hear your name. Your brand is developed and built by you through all of your interactions with others. This holds true whether those interaction are done personally, either face-to-face or online, or through your website, your blog, your online and print marketing materials and yes, your telephone system.
PROFESSIONAL CALLER ID
When you reach out to current or potential new clients, would you rather the caller ID display your name such as “Renee Quinn” or would you prefer the caller ID display your business name such as “IPWatchdog?” I would certainly hope the latter. If someone tries to reach you and no one is there to answer the phone directly, would you rather them hear, “You have reached 7-0-3-1-2-3-4-5-6-7, please leave a message after the beep.” or would you rather them here something like, “Thank you for calling IPWatchdog. Our office is currently closed. Our normal business hours are 9-5 EST. For information on our Invent + Patent system, please press 1. For our fax number and correspondence address, please press 2.…” Again, I would think your answer would be the latter.
MULTIPLE DEPARTMENTS MAKE YOU LOOK BIGGER
If you are a sports fan or you like to watch the news, chances are you have seen the new Staples “Dave” commercial? The commercial ends with “In a small business, it’s all you.” and is a perfect demonstration of my next point. Even if you are a one-man show, people will still be calling you with different needs. So you will need to play multiple roles within your company such as accounts receivable, customer service and product support in order to meet those needs. Having a telephone system that allows you to have multiple extensions and multiple voicemail boxes will not only make your small business appear larger, but will also help you to prioritize the handling of your calls. When all of your calls go into a general mailbox, you will need to go through each voicemail individually to find the one or two messages you were hoping or expecting to get. Creating multiple mailboxes for the different “departmental” needs of your clients will take the guess work out of what messages were left for what reasons and where.
As a small business owner, often times you will find yourself out of the office or traveling for business purposes. While you are away your voicemail box could fill up rather quickly or you could potentially miss a very important call. However, if you have the flexibility of being able to forward your calls to an alternate telephone, these issues will no longer be of concern. This is especially important when you, alone, hold most or all of the roles within your business. By being more readily available to potential clients you will continue to build a dependable brand.
If you have a versatile voicemail system that allows you to record messages for multiple mailboxes, features independent after hours and normal business hours messages, gives you the ability to prioritize the handling of your incoming calls and gives you the flexibility of being available to current and potential clients even though you are not at your desk, you will be portraying a consistent, professional, customer service oriented tone. This tone will inevitably enhance the image of your brand and will reinforce the positive perceptions of others.