By Steve Smith, owner of Virtual Landline
Recognising the attitudes that consumers have towards different dialling codes is extremely important for both small businesses and sole traders. With a multitude of number options to choose from, as well as cost differences associated with each, selecting the right telephone number can have a significant impact on business success. Amidst these considerations are a range of issues, including cost savings for the business and customers, the flexibility and longevity of the number, and the ability to maintain productivity while remotely communicating with consumers. Recent research from Virtual Landline has explored telephone numbers in relation to consumer attitudes, with the results being starkly in favour of the non-mobile options.
1. Customer Preference
When given the option, 50% of those surveyed would call a landline number first, compared to just 6% of respondents claiming they would call a mobile number first, demonstrating that businesses with a landline number have an advantage. Those who offer a mobile number will undoubtedly appeal to fewer customers, as the respondents find alternative numbers more preferable. With telephone still being one of the most preferred methods of contact (30% of consumers choose this over other methods), providing an outlet that suits the consumer’s needs is vital.
2. Remote Productivity and Accessibility
Of course, a traditional, fixed landline number has its limitations. Opting for another telephone option such as a Virtual Phone System, a service that provides a cloud-based telephone number rather than a mobile number, provides the ability to work from anywhere. Calls can be instantly routed to a mobile phone or Smartphone app wherever the internet is available and as voicemails and faxes can be forwarded to a designated email account as an MP3 or PDF attachments, it means that customer enquiries can be picked up from any location. In addition to this, the research found that the proximity of a tradesman remains imperative to consumer interest (85% of consumers find proximity very or fairly important), so the fact that the phone number can be selected by the business user, being able to appear local whilst working from any location is a real benefit to small businesses.
3. Positive Business Perception
With 31% of consumers concerned about the permanence and reliability of mobile only businesses, it is time that small companies or sole traders looking to appear bigger start to look at other options. Because virtual landlines can be delivered to mobiles, and picked up regardless of location, small businesses can utilise different dialling codes to reflect stability and locality, which is particularly important, as 65% of respondents believe that a non-mobile number constitutes a well-established company.
4. Appear more cost effective
Research has shown that 37% of surveyed consumers assumed that mobile numbers would cost them the most to dial, compared to a mere 1% who expressed that standard geographical numbers would cost the most. This means that consumers faced with a mobile number to call may opt for a cheaper option such as email or text, or in some cases decide not to contact the business at all. 50% also stated that they would always call a landline before a mobile when given the option, further cementing the case for small businesses and sole traders to adopt a virtual number.
During the course of business development, the likelihood of moving location is probable. With a traditional landline the number will be changed according to geographical position. Subsequently, the business number will be altered, which may result in a loss of customer interest as it may be presumed that the distance from the trader is too far, or customer’s may not keep up with the number change so will lose contact altogether. As well as this there are practicalities to consider, such as editing contact details on business cards and websites. With a Virtual Landline however, the number will grow with the business and provide a consistent number regardless of movement, which will be beneficial in ensuring performance longevity.
It is clear that providing a geographical number can have a significant, positive impact on the probability of a consumer contacting the business. The ease of accessing calls from multiple devices as well as syncing voicemails via apps provides far greater efficiency and productivity. Yet even with so many options, many businesses have still not made the switch from mobile. With the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the latest virtual solutions available, it is time that small businesses and sole traders looking to succeed in 2015 start to move away from using standard mobile numbers and recognise the possibilities increasingly available.