Communication is key

One man band or multinational corporation; no matter what the business there are a few truths which are universal. No I am not talking here about probity or operating ethically or within the law, although these go without saying, but I’m thinking here more about the way a business interacts with its customers, its employees and its stakeholders.

Most particularly, I’m thinking about the need for an ongoing dialogue which not only keeps people informed but also builds trust and relationships. And the key to success is communication.

It was with interest therefore that we read about the launch by Ofcom of a new one-stop mobile and broadband checker. Building upon a mobile checker which was launched in 2015, this new checking service enables people to compare and contrast broadband and mobile speeds across a range of providers.

It does have its limitations. For example, for this writer who works in an area poorly served by broadband, the only information available is that there is no information. However, for the majority of businesses the service should be a useful aid in deciding where to site new premises or checking on optimum broadband or mobile use.

But communication is more than simply having a decent website or robust social media or email platform. The choice of telephone number and telephone system can have a measurable impact on the way in which customers and others communicate with the business. In fact, your telephone number can speak volumes about your company. For example, if you want to convey the idea that you are a business with a local feel then you may decide to opt for a local regional number. Alternatively, if your customer base and reach is broader, you may opt for a national or even international telephone number.

Whatever number you choose, callers are very quickly going to be put off unless they receive a swift and appropriate response. When the phone rings and rings but no one picks up; the only impression you are going to give is either that you’ve gone out of business or that you simply don’t care. And even if the call is answered promptly, if the caller has to explain their query to a succession of people, each of whom is unable to help, then frustration will build up and the caller will resolve to go elsewhere in future.

Simply by making a few tweaks to telephone answering protocols a business can help to ensure that callers are not left feeling dissatisfied. Press key or voice prompts may not be universally admired but they are a good way of ensuring that calls are directed to the appropriate individual or department. Once there, the use of programmable hunt groups will help to ensure that calls are answered swiftly as well as avoiding the unsatisfactory scenario whereby a phone rings on an empty desk in a fully staffed department.

If all else fails, there is always the option of switching calls to answerphone or to a virtual assistant service or even to a designated mobile. This is where Ofcom’s new system can again come in handy. If you’re going to be out and about with your mobile, a quick check of signal availability before you go can aid the decision as to whether calls should be switched to mobile or whether another option should be used. With some thought and preplanning it doesn’t take much for a business to open up communication pathways, but it can make a measurable difference in the long term.

Written by Alison