The Importance of a Modernized Phone System in Today’s Business World

The importance of a modernized phone system should never be underestimated in today’s business world. Lost calls due to insufficient lines and equipment can quickly turn into lost revenue for companies who do business over the phone. The industry term for a call terminated by the customer while waiting for a pick-up is an Abandoned … Continue reading “The Importance of a Modernized Phone System in Today’s Business World”

The importance of a modernized phone system should never be underestimated in today’s business world. Lost calls due to insufficient lines and equipment can quickly turn into lost revenue for companies who do business over the phone. The industry term for a call terminated by the customer while waiting for a pick-up is an Abandoned Call. Abandoned Calls are not only frustrating for the consumer, but also can have the effect of dissuading the customer from trying again at a later time. There are several options available for business who want to lower their Abandoned Call ratio. Automatic Call Sequencers and Automatic Call Distributors are devices which answer the calls as they come in. The Automatic Call Sequencers simply answer with a message indicating to the customer that they will be helped in the order the call was placed in the queue. The calls are then picked up by available customer service representatives who can see the order in which the calls arrived. Automatic Call Distributors are similar, but normally answer with a message and then route the call to an available customer service representative. While many businesses don’t handle the volume of calls necessary to merit the use of these advanced devices, those that do find them to be invaluable tools for aiding in prompt customer interaction. For businesses whose lines are almost always busy and who are unsure of whether they are facilitating Abandoned Calls, a traffic study can be performed. A traffic study will determine the volume of calls missed due to an insufficient phone system and also provide information on outgoing calls as well. Many business are utilizing traffic studies to update their systems for maximum availabilty to their consumer base. Traffic studies are also utilized to predict the future traffic of a company’s call volume so that proactive measures can be taken to ensure that future system needs will be met.

How To Hire Like The Fortune 500’s: A Guide For Small Businesses

A recent iLogos Research study revealed 94% of Fortune 500 companies now hire employees online, a stark contrast from 1998, when only 29% of them were doing the same. If you own or manage a small business, that means the vast majority of your fiercest competitors are now spending less time and less effort on recruitment. And that leaves them with more time to, simply put, get a leg up on you.

Sure, it sounds like a threat. But isn’t lack of technology an inevitable drawback for most small businesses? Absolutely not. Maybe 10, even 5 years ago. But not today.

Every time we do market research with small businesses, we hear three top reasons why the business has not yet implemented an online hiring solution, in which job candidates apply online:

1. The cost is too high
2. They lack the technological know-how
3. They believe setting up a recruitment software would take longer than just doing it the old-fashioned way

Those are all valid concerns, considering most small businesses operate on a tight budget and without an in-house IT department.

The good news is small businesses are fundamental to the North-American economy. In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses drive the U.S. economy, representing 99.7 percent of all employer firms. In Canada, according to Statistics Canada, businesses with less that 100 employees account for 98% of all employer businesses.

Business software developers are now recognizing the importance of SMBs and designing employee recruitment software that caters to the specific budgetary and technological needs of small business.

It’s important to do your research and find the technology that’s the best fit for your company. When shopping around for a recruitment manager program, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Cost: Is the advertised price of this product the actual price my company is going to pay?
Beware of offers that are full of limitations. For example, will you have to pay more if a lot of people apply for your job? Is there a hosting charge for filing all the applicants’ resumes? Is there a time-limit for your job posting, after which you have to pay extra charges?

2. Ease of technology: Is the technology really easy-to-use, even if I’m a computer novice?
The best way to find this out is by trying the product yourself. Most companies offer free trials of their products, which are a great idea, as long they are risk free. Keeping in mind question 1, make sure the trial has no hidden charges. Also try out the front-end application process to make sure it’s really going to be easy when your job candidates apply online.

3. Setup: How long will it take to get up and running?
You don’t want to get stuck with a product that takes so long to setup, that by the time you’re done, you could have done everything the old-fashioned way. It’s a good idea to talk to a sales representative and ask him/her to explain to you the exact steps you’ll need to take to setup for a job.

4. The product: What’s included?
What does this product do? What doesn’t it do? Some programs offer only the online job posting functionality. Others focus on the back-end, like collecting resumes, organizing, filtering and searching employees, scheduling interviews, etc. When looking for a program that takes care of the back-end, make sure the company will also be able to help you with the posting functionality, whether you’re putting up a poster on your store window, running an ad in the local paper or posting on job websites.

5. Service: Will I get a helping hand?
Since most small businesses do not have an IT department, one of the most important questions to ask here is what kind of service will you get. Will you get email support? Phone support? Online Live Help? Will you be speaking to a real business person who knows about the specific challenges you’re facing, or to someone who only knows the tech aspects of the program?

Remember it’s your company’s efficiency that’s at stake here, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or request a free trial. Hiring online may sound like something only fit for the big guys, but remember this is the 21st century, which means technology and small business are the most important aspects of our economy.

Hold That Hold…Please!

It never fails. Whether ordering a pizza or making a doctor’s appointment, I hear it almost every time. “Can I put you on hold?”, they ask. Before I have a chance to even answer…I am on hold! What just happened? Was it a rhetorical question? Why even give me the option? Why not just say, “Welcome to XYZ, where we promptly put you on hold!”.

Some people hate automated phone systems, but not me. I like to be informed of where I stand in any given situation. I would rather have an honest computerized voice telling me I will have to wait (and also likely telling me for approximately how long), than to encounter a real life human being who will tease me with a choice and then make the decision on my behalf in a split second. Imagine if everyone you encountered operated this way. You might be standing in line at a fast food restaurant and be asked if you’d like to try a new item on the menu they are trying to push. Before you have time to think, you’re being charged for it while it stares at you from your tray. You might be at the theatre seeing a play or musical. Instead of, “Would you like to buy a program?”, you get the same question followed by a hand in your wallet or purse rabidly searching for your billfold.

I guess the real aggravation is that I really don’t want to hold, and businesses know that. “Can I put you on hold?” is a nice way of saying, “Do you want to hold, or just hang up and try back later?”. Have you ever met anyone who wants to hold? Has anyone ever asked you if they could call you and have you put the phone down for an hour or two as a birthday present?

I just want a little more honesty, that’s all. If you can’t automate your phone system, at least hire enough people during peak business times to facilitate your customers and have the necessary phone equipment to handle the call volume. i think either of those are welcome alternatives to asking me if I’ll hold. If not, I may be forced to simply “hold” onto my money and go elsewhere.

Streamlining Customer Interaction for Business Success.

Whether on the phone placing an order or in the checkout line, people hate to wait. Rarely am I physically present to make a purchase in a place of business where the facilities are not optimized for fast service. In those cases, it is often a lack of manpower that keeps customers waiting. We’ve all been there. There are fifteen cash registers at the grocery store but only five cashiers. Unfortunately for many companies who do business over the phone, the same thing can happen but in the opposite fashion. Many companies have more than enough employees to handle incoming calls, but simply lack the phone system to keep them from holding. This can result in a loss of business as many people, especially those who might be ordering goods or services from the company for the first time, will only wait a few minutes before hanging up and looking elsewhere. Think about it…if you are in the grocery store with a cart full of groceries, it’s not as though you are going to abandon the cart and drive to another store where you will have to pick out all the items again. On the phone, however, things are different. Unless your business is highly specialized with little competition or you are the customers choice because of geographical location (i.e. scheduling appointments for services). you can lose a caller who has been holding too long to a competitor. Recently, advances in phone system technology have made it so that multiple lines can be added to a business at a very reasonable price. Additionally, office phones themselves have options that let customer service representatives know who has been holding and for how long, so that they can minimize waiting times for customers. For a company who relies on the phone for any portion of it’s sales, having a modernized phone system is paramount for continued success in business. Streamling customer interaction is more than a consideration, it’s a necessity.