Phone.com CEO Ari Rabban Guest Blogs for smallbizdaily.com!

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Just because consumers may prefer to call your business doesn’t mean they’ll settle for sub-par experiences.

By Ari Rabban, CEO, Phone.com

Chatbots, live messaging, SMS, artificial intelligence, video chat—all of these channels and technologies have changed the way consumers interact with businesses. And in return, more entrepreneurs and small business owners are content to list their personal numbers under their organization’s contact information.

But for all the hype around more modern customer service channels, voice remains an essential part of your communications. Studies show that 70% of consumers still prefer to speak to human customer service representatives over automated systems.

Research by BIA/Kelsey found that calls to businesses will increase exponentially, exceeding 169 billion per year by 2020. And because voice calls are 10-15 times more likely to generate sales and follow-up activity, your growing business can’t afford to ignore the benefits of true VoIP services.

It may be tempting to use your personal number for small business communications, but these five service advantages of cloud-based unified communications services (UCaaS) might convince you otherwise.

1. Unlock Full Voice Capabilities

Just because consumers may prefer to call your business doesn’t mean they’ll settle for sub-par experiences. Simply having a number to contact isn’t enough.

For one thing, using your personal line means your business is entirely tied to that phone number. Changing it later can become overly complicated and lead to miscommunication between you and your customers.

But more than that, using a personal line for business limits your ability to communicate. Adopting a complete cloud-based VoIP service gives you access to more advanced features than just call processing, including:

  • Bulk number porting
  • Click-to-call
  • Video conferencing and HD audio conferencing
  • Interactive voice response (IVR)
  • Text-to-greeting
  • Mobility, find-me/follow-me
  • Toll-free phone, local and virtual office numbers
  • And more

2. Integrate with Your Business Applications

When you’re an entrepreneur just starting your business or you’re running a growing SMB, automation can be your best friend. The more you can automate your workflows, the more resources you can devote to serving customers.

Communications services that are truly agile and flexible offer open application programming interfaces (APIs) so developers can extend telephony into an array of workflows. APIs are a doorway to building new applications for specific use cases. Integrating with platforms like Zapier can transform voice communications into a seamlessly connected piece of your sales and marketing processes.

One common example using Zapier is adding “click-to-call” buttons in email signatures, on websites and other touchpoints to create more convenient customer experiences.

Using your personal number puts customer communications in a silo. Also, frankly, it screams unprofessionalism. You can’t integrate voice calls with critical systems like your CRM, making it difficult to deliver tailored service experiences that make customers more loyal.

3. Create a Local Phone Number

There’s a fine line that entrepreneurs and small business leaders have to walk. On one hand, studies show that 79% of consumers feel that small, local business are more reliable than national/corporate brands. But you also need the reputability of being an established business to give customers peace of mind.

Having a local phone number for your business balances those two sides. You get the reputability of a small local business without the amateurish look and feel that customers might perceive if you use a personal number.

Most importantly, VoIP services allow you to choose from thousands of local numbers and back them up with HD quality communications.

4. Boost Branding with a Vanity Number

If you’ve ever seen a commercial for Kars4Kids, you probably know their phone number pretty well. The “1-877-Kars-4-Kids” jingle takes advantage of a vanity number to increase brand recognition among consumers.

When you use a personal mobile number for your business, you miss out on this kind of brand recognition. Even if you’re investing in the latest and greatest marketing and advertising techniques, what are the odds that a customer remembers your normal phone number? One study found that custom vanity numbers have 30% higher response ratesand, thanks to the visual cues, achieve up to 84% better recall rates than traditional phone numbers.

A custom vanity number may seem simply. However, it’s an affordable marketing tool that gives your customers an easy way to contact your business.

5. Increase Communications Flexibility

Even entrepreneurs and small business owners need to disconnect at some point. Whether it’s spending time with the family, taking a vacation, or simply shutting off for the weekend, you need a phone number that doesn’t give customers 24/7 access to you.

Using a personal number makes it difficult to disconnect. But with cloud services, you can use features like Schedules to set specific hours that your business phone will ring. Even when the service is integrated with your mobile device, you can still choose who gets through to you, transferred to a colleague, or sent to voicemail.

With these features, you can create more flexibility in your communications without sacrificing service. A proper voicemail greeting lets you create personal, genuine, transparent services—even if you can’t answer the phone right away.

Modern marketing and communications vendors may try desperately to prove that voice calling is a thing of the past. But the reality is that in this world of advanced personalization and customization, customers still want a way to call your business when necessary.

Cloud-based UCaaS services don’t have the break the bank for your small business phone system. Many top service providers offer subscription-based pricing without any long-term contracts. It’s a crowded marketplace, but with the proper due diligence, you’ll find a solution that aligns perfectly with your needs.

Ari Rabban is CEO of Phone.com, a cloud-based unified communications, collaboration and business phone services provider trusted by more than 30,000 businesses across the U.S and Canada. With award-winning U.S-based 24/7 customer service, and over 50 customizable features including audio and video conferencing, call forwarding, collaboration, voicemail transcription, IVR, vanity and virtual toll-free 800 and local numbers, Phone.com is a complete solution that allows you to connect with anyone anywhere at any time.

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