Underrated Business Phone Features that Will Grow Your Company

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    What does your business phone plan do for your business?  You may think that’s a silly question.  I mean, your phone plan keeps you in touch with people, right?  Isn’t that the whole point?  Sure, communication matters, but that’s only part of the story.  Your business phone plan has all kinds of features that go far beyond just having a chat with a client.  Want to know what you’ve been missing?

    Custom hold messages

    Okay, so you know you can record custom phone messages or select catchy hold music to “entertain” people as they wait patiently to talk to a real live person.  But if all you’re doing is relying on your hold message to remind customers that you care about their business and their call will be answered in the order in which it was received, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

    So many companies treat their hold messages as a throwaway, and that’s a big mistake.  What if, instead of boring the people on hold, you actually sell them something instead?  Give your customers a reason to actually listen.  I like to create a phone-only special – a discount on a premium service or a seasonal offer – and share it only via my hold message.  I change the offers up regularly, and customers have to mention the offer to get the special pricing or offer.  Throw in a little humor or a seasonal greeting (in keeping with your brand, of course,) and you’ll find that when your customers get to speak to a person, they’re in better spirits and more receptive to your employees.  Basically, I’ve trained customers to listen, rather than simply zoning out.

    Custom hold messages can be a sales opportunity – a chance to put your business phone plan to work for you in a new way.

    Click to call

    One of the keys to selling is to remove any obstacles that might prevent a customer from choosing to buy.  Basically, you want to make it as easy as possible to get your customer to “yes.”  Since we know that most Google searches are performed using mobile devices (see Smart Insight’s evidence here,) that means you have a huge opportunity to connect directly with prospective customers.  By putting a “click to call” or “call me now” button on your website, you’re making it a snap for customers to reach out to you.

    Making sure your website follows best SEO practices and includes relevant keywords will help lead customers searching for your services to your site, and inviting them to connect with you simply by clicking a button makes it easy for a prospect to start a relationship with your company.  Once you have a prospective customer on the phone, you still have to earn their business, but you’ve made it super simple for them to take the first big step toward saying yes.

    Automation

    If you’re using a no-frills, cheap business phone service, this feature won’t necessarily apply to you.  But if you’re using a full-service phone service like Nextiva, you’re missing the boat if you’re not taking advantage of the automation possibilities available to you.

    How can automation work for you?  Let’s say you own a company that sells products via a website.  When a customer wants to return a product or has a complaint, there’s a form they fill out online.  Now you could pay an employee to review each and every form, figure out what to do, initiate a discussion with the customer, implement the resolution, and mark the issue as resolved.  That’s a lot of person hours spent on a task that may be much simpler that it initially appears.

    If you automate part of your customer return process, here’s what it might look like:  A customer fills out the form asking for a refund.  Your system automatically checks the customer’s history.  If they’re a good client, order regularly, and return items rarely, you could set your system up to automatically issue the refund…without the need for an employee to lift a finger.  You might even throw in an email offer the next day with a discount code good for a future order.

    The point is that there are aspects of nearly every business that can be automated without negatively impacting customer experiences.  Now these communications features don’t necessarily set themselves up, but once you’ve automated a procedure, then you’ve freed up time for you or your employees to do something more productive.

    HD Voice

    This underrated feature is a bit of a pet of mine.  Nothing pisses me off quicker than needing to resolve an issue with a company by phone, only to have abysmal call quality that hinders communication.  When you subject your customers to lousy call quality, you’re telling them you don’t care that much about their business.

    It may be a little geeky, but one of my favorite things about HD Voice is that the technology is active, meaning it’s not just about transmitting sounds clearly.  The tech actively works to detect and minimize background noise.  It also takes far more audio samples per second, which yields a richer, more nuanced sound – more like an in-person conversation.

    Your business phone system may already have HD Voice, but it’s worth checking to make sure you’re operating with the best quality sound you can obtain.

    Your business phone system is a tool, an incredibly valuable one.  But there’s an analogy I love.  Many business owners think of their phone system as a single-function tool, like a screwdriver, when in fact, it’s a swiss army knife, full of useful functions that suit a variety of needs.  Make sure you’re getting the most out of your phone service by taking advantage of underrated functions.

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    She is the Managing Editor for in-depth discussions and analysis as well as breaking news at Markets Morning. She works closely with Editor-in-Chief Zac Berry on content and publishing initiatives for the site. Brianna Clemons has worked as a financial journalist and editor since 1997. She lives in Bucks County, PA, with her husband, four young children and one dog.

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