There is one thing a small business has that no global corporation can offer.  Contactability.   Yes, admittedly it is extremely difficult as a small business owner to be available all the time. You have life commitments, you need to sleep, rest and engage in life. But that doesn’t take away the fact you hold the single most valuable key to business success that the big guys just don’t have.

Contactability is the key to small business success.  When your customer calls, they get you.  When they email, they get you.  When they live chat or message, they get you.  See the theme?  They don’t wan’t to speak to an off-shore call centre, they wan’t the local bloke or gal.  Why? they get stuff done.  They know their clients.

Imagine you had a problem with your internet.  Here are two different customer outcomes:

Customer 1) This customer thought it would be great to bundle his internet with his phone with one of the ‘big 2’ telcos in Australia.  The price is pretty good, he gets 10% off per month for bundling.  He has been a loyal customer for 10 years. His internet breaks. he calls into the huge pond, and his call gets diverted overseas.  The operator can’t speak much english and they are clearly reading off a script.  The customer tries to explain his NBN connection isn’t working well.  The operator has no idea. They can’t deviate off the script.  His call gets placed into a support queue for somoene to call back when they get around to it.  A week later and 15 phone calls, each taking 45 minutes, Customer 1 is frustrated.  He threatens to leave.  He explains he has been a loyal customer for 10 years.  The support operator doesn’t care and palms him off to the complaints deparment, also offshore. The customer has lost about 2 days of productivity. His internet is still broken.

Customer 2) . This customer doesn’t bunde anything.  He signs up for his internet with the local internet company. They are based in Melbourne with a small local team.  The guys on the support line know customer 2.  They were here when he signed up and remember his name.  When he calls they greet him and say that ‘oh I see you’ve been with us for 12 months, how has the journey been?’  Customer 2 is thankful and feels appreciated.  When he tells them his NBN isn’t working, the operator looks up the map and realises that he is in a part of Melbourne that was impacted by recent storms.  The operator knows this because he is local and knows the area.  He advises the customer this is most likely the case, and sends a technician to fix it.  The internet is back online within 24 hours.

See the difference?  As the small business you can make your customer’s lives a whole lot easier.  The hard part is convincing them to move from the big players, who may have them trapped.

What easy things can you implement to make sure you are contactable by your clients?

Email or ticket support

This is the most popular.  We recommend a ticketing system or helpdesk suite to assist in managing your incoming support requests.  This will ensure nothing is missed, and you have full traceability of the customer enquiry.  A back and forth email will often get lost amongst all the other crap in an inbox, and it’s hard for multiple team members to collaborate on the one issue.  We can help you pick a suitable helpdesk or ticketing system. Some include ZenDesk, WHMCS, OzTicket and more There are even heaps of free ones out there!

Live chat

Live chat is an important tool. This can be integrated into your website and social media pages.  It allows fast easy communication with your clients in a manner you are used to.  Instant messenger tools such as CRISP are cheap and easy to integrate with your site.  A mobile app allows easy communication back and forth with your client no matter where you are at the time.  You can also use facebook messenger which now has website integrations.  This allows one messaging tool to accept requests from both your website and facebook at the same time.

Phone

Phone calls are becoming less and less as time goes on. Customers don’t like picking up the phone to call, and they don’t like office hours. They want information day and night.  There are still some however who prefer a chat, and it has its place in business.  We recommend a centralised phone number such as 1300 or even a traditional landline number that is pointed to a VOIP PABX to allow full flexibility of diversions, menu’s, IVR’s, time conditions and follow-me features, to make sure you are contactible when your clients need you.  We can help with this!  Many businesses also opt for a 24/7 virtual receptionist to take their calls when they are not available.  We highly recommend this. DO NOT set up a voicemail box in 2020. No one will leave a message!!

Mobile and SMS

We don’t generally recommend advertising your mobile number as the sole contact number for your business.  The above VOIP PBX scenario provides far more flexibility and allows for calls to be routed to numerous people.  If you do give your mobile out, do it carefully.  It isn’t as professional, and some people actually don’t like calling them thinking they are going to disturb you.  Others don’t care and are happy to disturb you day and night.   So once again, be careful.  SMS on the other hand is a very useful tool, like the live chat above.  We can provide a virtual mobile number for 2-way chat without being your main mobile number. Ask us today.

Hopefully these tips on improving your contactability help.  Stratigence are experts in small business communication, specialising in healthcare, but are more than happy to assist any type of small business with their communication needs, after all we have been doing this since 1997!