Can a local, family run business use advanced call management features?

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The straight answer is yes, they can, but this question did come up when I was speaking to a customer a couple of days ago. These advanced features are often associated with large corporations but are now much more widely accessible. So maybe the actual question is “when is it appropriate to use them?”

What are call management features for?

At the heart of these features is the desire to improve the customer experience. This can be done by either reassuring the customer that they've reached the right place, using greetings for example. These greetings can also give the customer confidence in the business they're calling. The professional tone of a greeting can really help this.

Or these features can improve the customer experience by handling their call more efficiently, like presenting options to direct them to the correct person if there's a choice.

You could say that by enabling the business to get better at handling calls is improving the customer experience. You can do this using features like Call Recording.

When is it appropriate to use them?

This is really a case by case decision. Thinking specifically about local, family run businesses though, I would imagine that something like Virtual Receptionist isn't really appropriate. Virtual Receptionist allows the business to present options to direct the caller to different places in the business. If they're all going to the same person, it would seem an unnecessary delay to the caller. This sort of thing distances the business from the caller, which for a local business, I imagine this is the opposite impression you want.

However, a simple greeting that says something along the lines of "Thanks for calling Daisy's Flower Shop, you’ll be speaking with Daisy very soon" would be good. It fits with the small, local business image. It's personal. Daisy takes most of the calls, so it is most likely they'll be speaking to Daisy. May be they expect to only speak to Daisy.

What is it you're trying to achieve?

This is a key question. Whenever you're considering call management features, I don't think it's ever a case of just adding stuff for the sake of it, or just because you can.

  • As I mentioned before, you need to consider how it might distance you from your caller.
  • You need to consider what image you're trying to create.
  • You need to consider how best to serve your customers.
  • You need to consider how you want to run your business.

Again, thinking about small businesses; as much as customers want you to be open 24/7, it might be the case that you don't want to be, just so you get a bit of separation in your life.

Something like Time Based Forwarding can help you do that automatically. You could create a team plan that forwards to your shop while you're open but goes straight to a voicemail service when you're closed. I don't think this is hugely detrimental to your customers (for the most part), it's just helping you set clear boundaries and making your life a bit easier.

Ultimately this is why local, family run businesses can use advanced call management features, but sometimes less is more. Don't add things because you can; add the features that will help you, your business and your customer the most.

Mark Burcher