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Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone

Are you losing customers because it’s hard to contact you? Attracting prospects for your wedding business is hard enough, so it’s vital that when people want to get in touch, they can contact you quickly and easily. If they can’t, they’ll simply move on to the next supplier.

While many brides will email, some will want to pick up the phone and talk directly to you. And these are often the hottest prospects.

Managing telephone calls effectively and professionally is vital – but not always easy, especially if you work mainly from home.

So what should you do?

Let them know how to contact you

Firstly, make your contact details nice and clear on your website. Don’t make potential clients hunt around for them. Ideally you should put your phone number and email address on every page.

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Have a separate business number

Whichever telephone service you decide to use you really need a separate number for business use.

The main decision you’ll need to make is whether to have a landline, use a mobile or go for a VOIP service.

Landline

Usually the most expensive option and one that can tie you into a long term contract which you generally don’t need when you are starting out.

However, your call quality will be good and the service should be very reliable.

Mobile

A few years ago it was considered totally unprofessional to have a mobile as your business contact number. I think that attitude is changing now, particularly for smaller businesses.

However, assuming you don’t want to be taking customer calls in the middle of the street, while your toddler is having a tantrum or at 9pm after a couple of glasses of wine, you will need a separate mobile for business use.

VOIP

Many numbers which appear to be landlines are actually VOIP services – internet based telephone systems.

Flexible, inexpensive and, these days, pretty reliable. All you need is decent broadband – there’s no need to get a separate telephone line installed. It’s worth investing in a good VOIP handset but your running costs will be much lower than traditional telephone lines.

The other advantage of VOIP is that you get lots of features which would normally only be available to big businesses with expensive telephone systems or cost extra on landlines.

The downside is that if your internet connection goes down, so does your telephone.

I’ve used VOIP for my businesses for many years now and it’s brilliant. When I moved from York to Manchester I simply bought a Manchester code phone number and routed it to the same VOIP account. And the York number still works if anyone has an old business card. The cost? £2 extra per month. I use Voipfone (and I highly recommend them) but there are plenty of providers available.

Make sure you don’t miss a call

Just letting your phone ring out if you are not there is unforgivable for any business. You either need voice mail or a telephone answering service.

Voice mail

If are going to use voice mail, then record a professional message and don’t leave the standard operators message. People are much more likely to leave a message of they know they are through to the right place.

However, many people won’t bother leaving a message on voice mail so to be really professional think about using an answering service.

Telephone answering service

Answering services will pick up your calls for you if you are unable to do so.

The best option is to have your own virtual PA who knows your business, can answer questions and may also be able to book appointments. Consider this if you receive plenty of calls and will also use your virtual PA for tasks other than call answering. However for simple call taking, this is not cheap.

If all you want is simply to have a human being answer the call and take a message, then there are service providers who will do this. You specify the basic script for the person answering the phone “Alison isn’t available at the moment, can I take a message?” and they’ll text and email you the caller details so you can get back to them.

I use one called answer.co.uk which is Pay as You Go – no contracts or set up fees and great if you only miss the occasional phone call. I link it with my VOIP line so if I don’t answer the office phone after 4 rings it routes through to the answering service – perfect for those times when I’m in the loo!

 

So make sure you are prepared for calls at any time – and then you won’t miss the one from your perfect client!

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