Telephone Systems – Five things to think about for a start-up business:
I always advise that you should think about what impression you want to give to the people that are calling you.
At this point don’t think about how you are going to achieve this, just about what you’d like to achieve – the how comes later!
A mobile phone number suggests a single person operating, perhaps entirely from a vehicle; whereas a landline number suggests more stability. A landline number doesn’t give any pre-conceived ideas as to how small or large a business is, how many people work at the company or long established they are; whereas a mobile number may suggest a very new business with little experience and perhaps a limited ability to take on work.
If you start your business with a mobile number then over time start using a landline number, you’ll always have a quantity of clients that are used to calling your mobile, and getting them to change their habits can sometimes be difficult.
It’s easy and very inexpensive to set up a ‘virtual’ (cloud), landline telephone number. It’s also very simple to choose the prefix (area code), of the landline number. So if you want to appear to be based in Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham or London the costs are the same and a new number can be activated very quickly. You may even decide to have multiple numbers to present the impression you have more than one office.
This number can then be directed to ring at a home number, a mobile number an office number or even ring a ‘Virtual PA’ answering service.
If you do choose a ‘virtual’ number, make sure that the supplier you select is able to offer you the ability to move this number to a telephone ‘cloud’ platform meaning that if your business grows and you need the functionality of a phone system, you can keep the number.
Summary – unless you really want to (or need to) rely on a mobile number for your business, always consider setting up a ‘virtual’ number as this will prove more flexible over time whilst giving the right impression from day 1.
Always give thought to who is answering any inbound call. The next call could be an existing client, a potential new client or even a supplier or courier, so if you are too busy to answer what happens to that call? Will it go to your mobile voicemail, will it go to your ‘virtual’ PA or answering service or will it just ring and ring until the caller gets fed up and hangs up!
Think about the background noise a caller hears when they call you. If you are driving or perhaps working on a site does this give the best impression; will a caller be able to hear you easily – will you be able to hear them? It’s not just about the practicality, it’s also about the impression you are giving!
Summary – there isn’t a ‘one answer fits all’ solution as every business differs.
Is there always going to be someone available to answer a call and if there is, consider if they have the ability and skill set to effectively answer that call.
If you are not in a position to answer all calls, give thought to where messages can be left or where calls could be diverted to. If you are using a ‘virtual’ cloud number, perhaps you can then divert this to a personalised voice message or a ‘virtual’ PA or answering service.
When outgoing calls have to be made, naturally you’ll want the person making that call to be competent to discuss whatever aspect of your business the call is about; but give thought to what number they present when they are dialling out.
Are they ringing from your mobile, their mobile, perhaps a home number or even worse, are they withholding the number (many people & businesses do not answer calls from withheld numbers). If you use a cloud-based phone system you are able to present the landline telephone number regardless of whether you are dialling from a desk phone, or even a mobile app associated with that telephone system.
Summary – Many people think about how they answer calls but very few give enough thought on what impression they give when making outbound calls.
Plan your budget then list your ‘must’ have and ‘nice’ to have lists.
Think about all the features you really can’t manage without; then follow this up with features that it would be nice to have but if you have to wait a while before you can have them then that’s OK!
Here’s a few examples………………
Summary – when starting a business it’s common not to have any budget for telecoms as it’s often the mobile phone that’s expected to do all the work. The first two years of a business are crucial and presenting a professional image when speaking to clients goes part of the way to helping build their confidence in you.
When you plan your medium to long-term requirements and what you would expect from your telephone system as your business grows’ discuss this with your telecoms provider. The decisions you first make when you set up your telephony will not only affect how much you spend in the first year or two of your business, they will also have an impact on how easily and quickly you can add new technology as you need to do so.
Summary – It makes sense to discuss growth plans with your business advisor, your bank and experts such as your accountant; but don’t forget a trusted telecoms provider. Making the best choice from the start of a new business will not only help you build that business, it will help you grow and keep expansion costs under control.
Overall Summary – its often said that ‘buying cheap means buying twice’. This is very much the case with technology.
Don’t be wary of speaking to an expert; you are the expert in your chosen field so why not talk about your wishes and plans with an expert in telecoms. If you don’t know how to choose who can give you best advice, speak with friends and other businesses about their own experiences and ask for their recommendations.
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice on the right telephone system for you, why not contact our expert* Jeff on LinkedIn?
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.