11/09/2014

By Rory Whelan of eReceptionist


Small businesses thrive and fail on small details. Miss one call and your business could miss out on so much more…

The small business owner is a man or woman of many talents. You can be CEO one minute, bringing in new business at a big pitch and an IT department the next, busy struggling underneath a desk solving WiFi issues. It’s a juggling act.

With more and more people making use of rapidly developing mobile and tablet technologies to set up small businesses from their home (despite a recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses saying 29% actually struggle at home due to inadequate broadband services), the ability to multi-task is being stretched to capacity.

Staying ahead of the curve and using developing modern technology is critical to the success of any small business — to help keep your business ahead of the pack.

But while most (over 51% according to Forbes magazine) are using technology to kick-start their brand, many are forgetting that most crucial of traditional business tools — the phone call.

These days, the majority of us believe that 80-90% of our business comes via email. And, a quick look at your stuffed inbox every day might appear to verify this ‘fact.’ But it’s not necessarily the case…

As a result of the growth in e-business and reliance on mobile technologies, so many small and medium-sized businesses (often treading fine lines between financial success and failure) are letting the phone ring out — to their cost.

Rory Whelan of eReceptionist said: "Many small business owners reveal to us that their main source of new business is via referral, and mainly by telephone. Missing that one phone call can mean a lot to the bottom line for startups and SMBs - although its importance is often puzzlingly underestimated."

Holidays are another issue. For many small firms, the summer season is a welcome break — with 38% taking their vacation in August, according to HR Review. But it can also be a time of lost business; the office shut down leaves many small businesses incapable of dealing with even a simple incoming enquiry.

As such, planning for times when your small business is under-staffed or indeed at complete shutdown is vital.

More than 75% of us faced with voicemail will hang up, according to telecom experts. It pays to make sure there’s a human voice at the end of your business line, no matter if you are there to receive the call, or not.

Whelan adds: "Imagine you’re an electrician and a customer is trying to reach you — having found your business number in the small ads, in the phone book or online. If you miss the call while you’re on another job, and it goes to voicemail, over 60% of callers won’t even leave a message and will head to the next number. You’ve instantly lost business and wasted your advertising/online presence."

Small businesses spend more than ever on social media, newsletters and other modern marketing mediums, but these are speculative ventures, shots in the dark. If you are investing all this time online and then there’s no-one to talk to offline you’re wasting your time.

Missing an inbound call from a customer who has already discovered your business — and is therefore 14 times more likely to create business than someone you contact ‘cold’ — is commercial suicide for any small business.

Investment in a quality, experienced call management solution for your business — which takes the call even when you can’t - could be the difference between landing new clients and moving on to new heights. Or slowly sinking.

A survey carried out by mobile phone giant, Vodafone recently revealed that 39% of over 2,000 workers surveyed cancelled a contract because of “not getting the level of communication they needed.”

If a massive brand like Vodafone is facing issues like this — which the survey said costs the average business £30,000 per annum — the effects on your own could be devastating. Can your small business really afford to be turning down £30K of work?

Emails, social media and newsletters are vital to modern business methods — but forget your phone - and the personal, efficient interface it offers - at your peril…