Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reducing the Phone Calls to Your Small Home Based Business

It is important for a small business to display a phone number on their website, but handling those phone calls to home based business can be disruptive, costly, and time consuming.

A phone call into an online store, for example, typically means the customer will give her order info over the phone, making for a 5-7-10 minute phone call, and opening yourself up to mistakes in getting the details correct.  

My second Christmas with my online store, the number of orders was beyond my expectations.   Along with the larger-than-expected number of orders to pull, pack, and ship, I was also getting a larger than expected number of phone calls to deal with.

After the holiday, I realized the biggest reason people had been calling was wanting to inquire if they could get their order by a particular date.   SO, I made changes to my website to make "when will I get my order" easier to find, and made detailed delivery time info available and very easy to find starting on Black Friday.

This cut down the number of calls significantly.  And, I suspect, increased the orders I received - since people knew they could order from my online store, and get what they needed.

In addition to displaying the information on the website, I also included a brief version of it in my online store's toll free phone number greeting.   This further reduce the time spend on phone calls, as some customers simply hung up after hearing the message and placed the order them self.

So... be smart... think about WHY people place calls to your online store, and find a way to address as many of them as you can with  changes to your website. ...   Provide the information, AND make the information easy to find.    

Of course, there will always be calls from people with questions that cannot be addressed in this way.   One way to mitigate the distraction from these calls is to have them picked up by voice mail.    If you use Kall8, as I do, you can choose to not even have your phone ring.

I do not recommend doing this all the time, but if you are against the clock to get orders packed before the UPS truck arrives, it may well be worth it.  

This can also save time in the end, and even provide better, more professional service to your customer, since you will be able to gather any needed information before making the return call.    (And, perhaps, you'll get to leave the info on their voice mail.) 

Being open to customer interaction is ideal...   We learn a lot about our market, and the perception of our products (and plenty more) by speaking with our customers.   But, there are times when reducing the number of phone calls to an online store can be of more overall benefit --- to you, the business owner, AND to your customers. 

Best wishes, oh, and don't call me today, I'm too busy being smart (HA!)

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