When we contact a business we've never used before, most of us are looking for a bit of reassurance that the business is professional and will do the right thing by us.
The larger and more professional the business appears to be (e.g. national toll-free 1800 or 1300 phone numbers, local landline numbers for multiple areas), the more comfortable we are about handing over our hard-earned cash. And even though it may be unfair, we'll often hesitate to contact a business if the only contact details provided are a mobile phone number or a free email address. That just looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
The good news is that with today's cloud-based PBX and VoIP services, it has never been easier (or more affordable) for even the smallest business to present a professional image. Even if you're a sole trader working from the comfort of your home office, you can present an image to the world of a larger business with multiple departments and employees.
On the subject of cutting corners and saving money, you might be using your personal mobile phone number as your business phone or purchase an Internet VoIP phone with a number of contemporary features. Larger businesses with deeper pockets and expansive offices usually install a PBX phone system - a private branch exchange - so that a business can have multiple phone numbers that run through one central system. This is, of course, not typically something that a smaller business can do, either because of the costs associated with deployment and/or service, or simply because they don't have the infrastructure/knowledge in place.
But don't worry! There's a way to get around this limitation and still make your small business look big. Your business can still have more than one phone number, or a single nationwide 1800/1300 phone number routed to different points with a professional IVR (interactive voice response) thanks to virtual PBX systems that are available at a fraction of the cost of a traditional exchange. Thanks to cloud-based computing, Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems provide just as much, if not more, functionality. Want to set your virtual PBX up to have calls routed to different "divisions" of your company, even if they all lead to the same desk in your basement? You can do this easily by using a virtual PBX.
You can still continue to use your mobile phone to receive calls, but you should stop advertising it as your main contact number. Nothing screams "sole trader" louder than a standalone mobile phone number.
A good option is to get a 1300 number or 1800 number. These are "virtual" numbers that aren't tied to any single fixed line or mobile phone. Instead, you can direct (or route) them to the number(s) of your choice or receive directly on VoIP via the internet.
They present a professional image to prospective customers, make you look like a larger business with nationwide presence, and provide you with the convenience of being able to answer them on any VoIP, fixed, or mobile phone in Australia.
Every phone number in the PBX can be setup as a main phone number with a professional greeting message such as "Thank you for calling to ABC Company. Your call is very important and will be answered shortly". After that, the system may be easily configured for an IVR menu like "Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Support, 0 to talk to Reception". After the customer makes a choice, the call will be directed to the appropriate person. You or your staff may answer these calls via a dedicated VoIP phone connected via the internet in any place of the world, on a mobile phone, or on a softphone in your mobile/computer similar to Skype.
Around 75% of callers simply hang up when their call goes through to voicemail. This is especially true for first-time callers who are just as happy to dial the next number in their search results until they find someone real to talk to, and in Australia we love to talk!
There will always be times when you're unable to take a call (for example, when you're meeting with a client or on another call), and very few small companies can afford to pay a receptionist.
And the other way to make your business look more established is to create the impression that you have a team of people working for you (even if you're there on your own). We all know that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, but there will be some potential customers who equate size with stability.
By using a virtual receptionist PBX feature, your customers will be informed if they call outside of business hours or during public holidays and will be contacted soon. Also, a virtual receptionist provides the option to connect directly with the necessary person by entering an internal extension number, which helps returning customers directly reach the required person. For normal business hours, it may be a created "ring group" from a few people where one of them will always be available to answer the phone. Your customers will be informed that they are in the queue and their call is not abandoned.
We've covered the basic issues with your phone system, but you shouldn't stop there.
When it comes to providing an email address, steer clear of providers of free email addresses. It doesn't cost you that much to get your own domain and looks much more professional. And as with your call forwarding IVR menus, you can make your business look larger with a dedicated email addresses (e.g. sales@, support@, info@).
You can also have dedicated direct local or interstate phone number(s) to your staff for returning customers. These phone numbers may be set up in a "Find Me" functionality - for example calling to a "desk phone" for 15 seconds, followed by the call being forwarded to your mobile phone if it's not answered on the desk phone.
The beauty of a cloud-based PBX System from the Australian Phone Company is that PBX is fully self-managed. This means that any changes for your office - such as adding an additional employee, changing business hours, updating greeting messages, assigning and re-assigning phone numbers, checking and downloading recordings - can be done via a very user-friendly PBX dashboard without the assistance of IT professionals or our support services. This is much easier and faster than it has ever been. Another very important aspect - cloud PBX is hosted in our cloud-based system, so it doesn't involve any capital cost for you to expand your PBX as your company grows. You just add new users according to your tariff plan and we do all hard work to expand the platform as your needs change.
As the PBX is located in the cloud, there is no dependency on your physical location. When the number of people in your company is growing, they may be distributed anywhere in Australia and even overseas. All of your internal calls will be handled at no cost because you all are in the same office. You can talk between extensions, watch presentations, hold conferences, and ring groups as if everyone is in the same room.
Cloud PBX provides 32 features to support your business. These start from traditional voice mail, and IVR (interactive voice response) menu, but today allow the use of all benefits of conference calls, time-based routing, ring groups, music and calls on hold, call transfers between extensions and to external numbers, call parking, presence lamp to see activity of your internal staff/extensions, virtual fax for email to fax and fax to email, hot desk, call recordings, integrations with Microsoft teams and much, much more...
When you're choosing your business name, why not first spend some time to see which matching domain names and phone numbers are available? Not only will this help to make you look more professional, it will also make it easier for customers to remember your web address and phone number.
When you advertise your phone number with text in it - such as 1800 APHONE - it immediately tells people who they are calling. These toll-free/smart numbers are routed to your virtual PBX and you get the opportunity to handle the incoming calls in you're the most convenient way for your business.
If you are interested in a PBX small business telephone system, Australian Phone Company offers a number of solutions. We have been offering phone systems for around ten years.
Most importantly, Australian Phone Company is a small business itself. We know what it's like to be a small company and to grow fast - just like you. We appreciate every customer and every single phone call. We understand the joys and challenges of smaller organisations, and we use that knowledge and experience when developing the perfect cloud-based PBX solution for you.
To get a small business cloud-based PBX phone system for your company, visit www.australianphone.com.au and get a three-month free trial to see how it works for you, or give us a call on 1800 APHONE.