Effective communication with clients is key to long-term business success. Small business owners are always thinking about new ways to reach and stay in touch with their customers – from social media to text to email to video chat. But even with all these new communication channels, savvy entrepreneurs know that their phone etiquette is critical to initiating and maintaining strong customer relationships.

So what exactly do your customers expect from your business with regards to phone communications and how can you provide it?  Here are three expectations that customers have and how to address them…

  1. Customers Expect Businesses to Answer Promptly
  • 3 out of 4 people think that calling is the most effective way to get a quick response – NewVoice
  • 85 percent of people whose calls aren’t answered will not call back – message-direct.co.uk

Solution: Rather than relying on traditional business phones that require special equipment, professional setup, and a wall jack, switch to a virtual PBX service. Virtual PBX services (like CloudPhone) enable you to get a dedicated business phone number online and route it to your mobile device. With some services, you can do this in just a few minutes. Virtual PBX features allow you to be responsive to your clients anytime, anywhere – giving them the service they crave.

  1. Create a Professional Phone Presence
  • 25 percent of customers feel they’re kept on hold too often – NewVoice
  • More than half of callers get irritated if they don’t speak to the right contact immediately – NewVoice

Solution: Consider virtual numbers. Say you have several Etsy shops — you can easily sign up for multiple virtual numbers and assign them to the different shops or product lines. Virtual numbers can be routed to the most relevant colleagues for each designated area of your business, even if they just have a mobile phone as their sole calling device. Virtual numbers are also very useful for geographically disbursed businesses. The seamless call routing, regardless of location, makes your business look ultra professional.

  1. Provide Excellent Customer Service
  • 66 percent of customers will switch companies because of poor customer service – Accenture
  • 40 percent of customers will look to purchase from a competitor because of their reputation for great customer service – Zendesk

Solution: While we don’t know the answers to all of your customers’ questions, we do know that in many fields and types of business, providing a clear and simple way to reach you via phone is essential to having a strong reputation for customer service. Some questions are too complex to look up online, so customers prefer to call. Some customers like to sound out their questions and/or confirm they are getting the right information by calling. For the simpler inquiries, features like custom voicemail messages can be very useful as they allow you to share important information upfront, which, at times, takes care of the question right

  1. Solve Problems Fast
  • 62 percent of customers have to repeatedly contact a company to resolve an issue – Harvard Business Review
  • 86 percent of people are happy to pay up to 25 percent more if they get the right customer experience – RightNow

Solution: Use features like “reach me” call forwarding, which dials multiple numbers on your list to reach you, as well as voicemail transcription with email and SMS notifications so that you are on top of the calls and voicemail messages you are receiving from customers. Take advantage of modern telephony conveniences to be instantly made aware of any major issues that your customers are experiencing and calling you about. With all these ways to stay in touch, there’s no reason to let a call go unanswered.

Phone etiquette is vital to the overall health of your small business. It does not take a lot of effort (nor money!) to provide effective, fast customer service, and the benefits will surprise you. Do you have any tips on effective voice strategies? Comment here or visit our social pages!

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