You have launched your online web store, your stock supply is in place and your delivery process has withstood every trial. The first orders may even have come through. But have you thought about how you will be handling offline customer contact?
Not all customers of your online store want to communicate exclusively via email, online forms, or chat windows. Customers need to know that there are real people behind your digital store window.
For many visitors, the lack of a direct phone number will be a reason to leave your web store as quickly as they came. This means you are losing potential customers and turnover!
By simply placing a phone number on your website, you avoid losing those customers. A telephone number offers people the opportunity to ask questions that your website might not answer, and it allows them to get a more personal experience with your business.
We understand your worries, though.
Answering phone calls should not happen at the expense of your productivity. Especially when you’re just starting out as an online store, balancing customer contact and other important activities is key.
So how can you do this without having to invest in new phones, switchboards or networks?
In this article we’ll show you just that!
The ideal customer contact for an online store
Before we can discuss how to set up a perfect customer care telephone service for an online store, we’ll have to look at what the conditions are that would make it perfect. When does telephone customer care excel? Can we define that? What are the ingredients? Is it measurable?
Or the inverse: what makes customer care fail? How do we prevent that from happening?
Below we have listed the most common problems that telephone customer service runs into, how to easily solve each of these, and what the main requirements for high quality telephone service are.
Before anything else, your customer service line must be reachable. When someone calls your customer service number, they have to be able to speak to a real-life person.
This may sound like a truism, but as a small organization you are probably not spending all of your time at your desk waiting for customers to call. You meet with suppliers, you process orders, you update your accounts, and so on.
In order to achieve total reachability for your customers, you will want to receive your calls wherever you are, on whatever phone is with you at that moment. This could mean the landline at your office, or your mobile phone while you are out of the office.
Once your organization becomes bigger and you employ more staff, you will want to be able to put callers through to them easily, even if you are at a different location than your employees.
A toll-free or national telephone number is a perfect solution in these cases. These numbers are virtual telephone numbers, meaning that calls are redirected to a normal phone number. This can be any phone number you choose and can be changed as often as your need, in real time.
Just as you want your online store to look professional in order to establish trust, the same goes for your telephone customer service. You will want your callers to be greeted by a professional yet personal, pre-recorded message. You may want to place them in a queue when you happen to be talking to another caller, or you may want to redirect callers to your digital answering machine so you can call them back later.
All these and many more features are available when you use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. With an IVR, you decide which features to activate and you can change these settings at any time. This gives you complete control over your phone number and makes sure that it is optimally adapted to the requirements of your business.
Measure to improve
You most likely keep very close track of your website’s statistics. As an online store owner, you will know exactly how many daily visitors you get, where they come from, how long they stay on your site, and much more. This knowledge allows you to continually optimize your online store.
So why not do the same with your telephone service?
Imagine how you can improve your store’s customer contact if you know exactly where your callers come from, what days and times they usually call, and how long callers have to wait on average before you answer the call.
Extensive visual call statistics that provide real time insight into important call data are as vital to your telephone service as they are to your website. Ideally, you would get daily reports that give an at-a-glance overview of the most vital statistics, and allow you to dig deeper if necessary.
Anytime, anywhere, full control over your phone number
As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to make changes on the fly. All the time. That’s why you can’t wait for days if you want to change a setting of your toll-free or national telephone number.
An online environment that gives you complete control over your phone settings, or mobile applications that let you configure features even while on the road, make the difference between just good and always perfect telephone customer service.
Setting up your own phone service
Now that we have seen the key customer needs, it is time to put theory into practice. We will go over the steps of how to choose and register a phone number, and how to configure it for your own telephone customer service.
Step 1: Pick your phone number
If you don’t yet own a toll-free, national or local telephone number, the first step is to decide which of these types of numbers is best suitable for you, and to then register your number. This may sound a lot harder than it is. As you’ll see below, it really isn’t.
So let’s take a look at the available types of telephone numbers to see which one suits your business best.
- Toll-free or freephone numbers are the ultimate in customer friendliness because they are free of charge for callers. The removal of the call tariff encourages customers to call in with their questions or orders. If you can convert a good percentage of callers to paying customers then toll-free numbers are best suited for you. You will maximize the number of callers, letting you maximize your conversions.
- The CallFactory offers toll-free numbers in many different countries. You can find a list of countries on our toll-free number page. If your country is not on the list, don ’t hesitate to contact us. It’s highly likely that we can provide toll-free numbers in your country as well.
- National phone numbers or non-geographic telephone numbers, are not associated with a region or city within a country. The numbers are a good alternative between toll-free numbers and local numbers because calls to these numbers always cost the same a local call, even if the caller is on the other end of the country.
- The CallFactory offers national numbers in many different countries. You can find a list of countries on our national number page. If your country is not on the list, do contact us. Chances are the we can provide national numbers in your country as well.
- Local phone numbers are also known geographical phone numbers because their prefix is connected to a geographical area and is therefore also called the “area code”. An area code might include part of or an entire town or city, or it may include a wider area. Whichever is the case for the local number of your choice, it defines a very specific area as “your location”. This is why these phone numbers are a perfect fit for online stores that focus on the local market. In some countries there is still a big difference in call tariff between local and national, or “long-distance” calls. So a local number is very attractive to call for local customers, but less so for customers that are further away.
- The CallFactory offers local numbers in many different areas in different countries. Contact us to let us know what country or area you would like to have a local number in, and we can provide you with a list of available numbers in your area of choice.
Our number stores show you which numbers are available. Registering a number only takes a few minutes. Numbers are registered on a first-come-first-serve basis, so don’t wait too long to register your number.
Step 2: Configure your phone number
Once you have selected and registered your telephone number, it is time to set it up. CallFactory’s advanced cloud-IVR lets you optimize your number for your organization. It gives you a wide range of extra features that you can enable at any point, at no extra costs.
The most-used features for online stores include:
- Welcome message
This is a pre-recorded message and it is the first thing callers hear when they call your number.
A warm greeting can put them at ease and is the perfect first impression. You can choose to pre-record a welcome message with your own voice, or to hire a professional voice actor for this. Our customer support can provide you with a list of example voices of actors we often work with.
The ideal length for a welcome message is 5 to 10 seconds.
- Out-of-office or after-hours message
This pre-recorded message is played when customers call outside office hours. Best practise for these messages is to welcome customers, tell them that you are currently closed, mention your opening hours and provide an alternative means of contact for emergency cases.
After playing this message to your callers, you can have them transferred to your digital answering machine, where they can leave you a message. This message is sent to you by email as an audio recording, with all the call details in the body of the email. This way, you can call back at a time that is more suitable for you.
- Virtual receptionist
Once you have welcomed your callers, you can put them through to your employees or departments based on a menu: “press 1 to place an order, press 2 for delivery information, or press 3 for questions about your invoice.” You can even create a level above this: “press 1 for English, pulse 2 para español.”
This menu functionality is called a Virtual receptionist and is included with your number if you are a customer of CallFactory. All you have to do is let us know what options you would like to have enabled and what the ring-to number for each should be. We will do the rest.
- Other features
There are many more features that you can activate and configure. Take a look through our features section to see which would help you create the perfect customer service for your web store. All options and features are accessible through your online dashboard and our smartphone app.
Step 3: Launch your phone service
After setting up your phone number, it is time to launch it. This means you can communicate it to your (potential) customers by placing it on your web store, preferably in a place that is visible on all pages, such as the header or footer of the site. Be sure to also include your telephone number in your email signatures and other written communication such as invoices.
Even after the launch, your phone number can grow along with your store.
If, for example, there comes a moment you need more colleagues to handle all the incoming calls, you can easily distribute incoming calls across more telephones or extensions.
The same goes if you are opening additional branches or offices elsewhere in the country, even abroad!
Whatever happens behind the screens, your customers won’t notice. They will call the same phone number and get the same, high quality service they have come to expect from you.
Get started today
As you can see, a perfect customer contact service begins right here, at the CallFactory website. So don’t hesitate and get your own toll-free, national or local telephone number today.
And if you need any help along the way, feel free to contact us.
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