Setting your business apart from your competitors comes down to more than a great product and excellent customer service. Businesses today also need to set themselves apart with a professional outward appearance. With review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List now available for every type of business, customers will often choose one business over another simply based on who has the better looking website, who utilizes social media, or whose phone recording doesn't sound like a 1980's era answering machine. Imagine, for instance, you are looking for a new restaurant to try. You first go to Yelp and see who has decent ratings. Then you click on the restaurant’s web page to take a look at the menu. Who would you decide to go with? The business who has some grainy pictures of their food in a website that looks like it was created with a word processor? Or, the business who has a nice looking Wordpress-style web page with hi-res pictures of their food, a PDF menu to download, and links to their Facebook page and Twitter account? The first restaurant may have superior food, but the majority of people will choose the second restaurant because the time they spent creating a superior outward appearance gives the public more confidence that they are making the right choice.
This same concept extends to many areas of small business including the phone system. If you call a company and can’t seem to get to a representative in a timely manner, hear poor voice quality, or simply receive a “Hello?” instead of a professional company greeting, your confidence level in that organization is going to go down. It would be better for your customers to hear a professionally recorded message that clearly indicates their options and allows them to navigate through the auto attendant easily without getting hung-up on. If you are running a call center, you should analyze how quickly and efficiently customers get connected to agents and fine tune the settings to continually improve these statistics. We recently had a Fonality customer who was very interested in improving their customer service level. We analyzed their call center settings and made a few simple changes. First, we set the agent ring time to 12 seconds from 15 seconds, basically removing a single ring when a call is trying to get to agents. Second, we set the phone system so that if an agent misses a call because they are busy, or away from their desk, they would automatically be logged out of the queue, and subsequent calls would skip their extension saving valuable time. Finally, we re-worded and simplified some of the verbiage in their outgoing message and shaved off 3-5 seconds per inbound call. These simple changes really added up and greatly improved their customer service.These basic steps will go a long way towards presenting the best possible outward appearance for your organization, and will ultimately make your company more successful by ensuring a higher level of confidence for your customers than your competitors.