The company had installed individual phone lines to take incoming customer calls and serve the administrative side of the business. Plumbers on the go used their own personal cell phones to phone clients and stay in touch with the office staff. There were issues, though, on both sides of the equation:
• When the main company phone line was in use, incoming callers would hear a busy signal, and the owner suspected untold business opportunities were being lost.
• When plumbers called to confirm appointments, the caller ID for their personal cell phone would be displayed. Clients who captured those numbers often called the plumber direct when they needed additional service. That meant workers could easily take customer relationships with them if they left the business.
• Emergency requests for after-hours service were left on an answering machine. There was no way to know if a client needed help until a team member called to check messages.
• With no centralised management and reporting capabilities, the business owner didn’t know whether plumbers were complying with his customer service initiatives and calling clients before service appointments.
The company adopted a cloud-based unified communication solution that has transformed how customer calls are managed — eliminating the capacity limits of the company’s previous wireline phones. The company’s “old-school” answering machine has been replaced by a full-featured auto-attendant that routes incoming calls and supports both name and extension dialing. The team can even change the prompts automatically, based on the time of day.
Plumbers now use a mobile client that turns personal cell phones into company extensions for work calls — keeping personal numbers private. They can easily make and receive calls, access the company directory, use instant messaging, share parts manuals, and even use voice or video conferencing to consult with colleagues. Personal calls are made and received on the same device as usual, without interruption.
• Bringing fraud to a halt. With the reports readily available online, the owner explored whether plumbers were following his policy of calling clients before each service call. But he found more than he bargained for. He could see that two plumbers were failing to use the company’s new mobile app and continued to phone clients direct from their private cell numbers. After a bit of digging, he discovered the two had developed a lucrative side business. They were taking repeat calls from his customers on their personal cell phones, fulfilling the requests off the books and pocketing the payments.
• Significant revenue growth. After firing the two plumbers involved in fraudulent activity, the company has realized significant growth, including a 30 percent increase in repeat business.
• Improved brand recognition. Caller ID reflects the business name and number for all outgoing calls — never an employee’s private cell number.
• No more busy signals. The company is now free of the constraints of physical phone lines, making busy signals a thing of the past.
• Better after-hours customer service. With its new auto-attendant, the company can configure an after-hours profile that instructs clients how to leave a message or be routed directly to the plumber on call in the case of emergencies, without divulging the individual’s home phone number.
• Broader capabilities for less money. The company now has far more sophisticated communication capabilities at a fraction of the cost it was paying for traditional phone lines.
If you face communication challenges in your small business, take a look at cloud-based communication services. They can deliver big-business capabilities on a small-business budget.