Are you missing out on new business simply by how you answer (or don’t answer) the phone? Has your business become inefficient and slowed down because you are using outdated phone tech? Have you failed to progress with the advancements in technology and still use a hard to use, confusing phone set up? If you’re using a phone system that doesn’t have business-relationship and efficiency-building features, the answer is yes.
Choosing the right technology doesn’t have to be time-consuming or hard when you know what to look for. You are the expert at running your business, so find a piece of technology that makes your job easier and gives you time to do what you do best. With running your business every day, these are the five phone features every successful small business needs.
Feature #1: Virtual Receptionist for Call Greetings
When someone calls your business, they are not calling just to chat. They want to get some sort of information from you, whether it’s to book an appointment, get directions, or hear about specials going on. Set these callers on the right path from the moment they dial your business number.
A phone system’s Virtual Receptionist feature helps your business sound professional and gives off that friendly perception people expect. The caller could become a lifelong customer, so building that friendly, local relationship starts from the first interaction they have with your company
A Virtual Receptionist feature is vital to helping you create a positive impression by connecting with your callers in a personal, professional manner. Nobody wants to hear a never-ending ringing noise and not know if the phone will be answered. The Virtual Receptionist not only gives your caller something to hear when they dial in, but it gives you a chance to run to the phone or finish up what you’re doing before needing to pick up.
Feature #2: Advanced Call Routing
You can maximize the Virtual Receptionist feature for other things, as well, such as routing calls to the right employees or right departments.
If you have multiple people handling different functions of your business, save your caller some steps by routing them to the right person from the beginning. Your caller would much rather spend time “pressing one to get connected to customer support” than being transferred and put on hold constantly.
You should also be able to set different recordings for when your business is open and when it’s closed. No one wants to call and go through the call routing process, only to find out no one is working. Pre-set hours so that when you’re closed callers can get directed straight to voicemail, if needed.
Feature #3: Do Business Wherever You’re Working
If your small business is service related, you’re not always at your desk. There’s a chance you’re on the road, visiting clients, etc.
Be sure to choose a phone system that follows you wherever you go. Phone systems like Ooma offer free call forwarding to mobile devices, so both your desk phone and mobile phone ring at the same time. This feature also saves you from having to give out personal cell phone numbers so you can maintain a balance between work and your personal life. Even if you’re normally at your desk when you work, it’s great to have the option to use your mobile phone as your business phone, so you can still get calls if you are out to lunch or if you have to leave work early.
Feature #4: Easy Set Up
If you’re like most small business employees, you don’t have an IT staff on hand and don’t want to spend a large amount on IT consulting to get a phone system up and running.
Be sure to get a phone system that is easy to set up and has an intuitive Dashboard. You shouldn’t need to hire someone just to get your phone system set up. Modern technology is very intuitive, so look for a phone system that is plug and play. If it takes more than 10 minutes to get your phone set up, skip that provider and go somewhere else.
Once your phone is plugged in, setting up the features like call routing and the Virtual Receptionist should be simple and straightforward. If you need to call someone in the tech support department to get everything set up, find a different provider. Do your due diligence when shopping around, grill the sales reps and make sure the set up process is super easy. Once everything is set up, there should be minimal work to keep the phone working. Unless you are constantly changing your call greeting (maybe you have daily specials or weekly promotions), you shouldn’t need to log back into the system frequently.
Feature #5: Affordability
Phone systems can have a wide range of costs and features, so it’s always important to do a little price comparison. Look for phone services that offer the features like the ones listed above, while still being affordable. We’ve researched a variety of phone system providers, and the pricing can be anywhere between $19.95 to $49.95. Sometimes you get more features for the higher price but that isn’t always the case. A quality provider like Ooma can provide all the features we’ve listed at the lower end of the price spectrum.
You should also be careful of phone companies that require you to lock into contracts or promote a low monthly price, only to be more expensive if you want to skip the contract and pay monthly. Check the cost up front to ensure that what is being advertised is what you’ll end up paying.
Another thing to consider is to look for a trial period, which gives the option to try before you buy. If they don’t do a free trial, see what their return policy is if the system doesn’t meet the requirements we listed above. Switching phone systems shouldn’t be so much of a hassle that you won’t change just because it is a burden to ditch your old provider.
About Kevin Sloan
Kevin is a marketing manager at Ooma. He loves dogs, working out, and new technology!