Here’s my number. Call me virtually

Owners and employees of small companies wear multiple hats. While customers appreciate this get-it-done mentality, sometimes your hard-earned relationships are damaged by simple mistakes. A customer may decide to call at the wrong time, like a busy Monday morning, and come away with more questions than answers.

Does this type of conversation happen too often in your office?

Person 1: “Who is holding on line one?”

Person 2: “A customer. He says it’s important that he talks to Steve.”

Person 1: “Where is Steve?”

Person 2: “I don’t know. I think he is out in the yard talking to a driver.”

Person 1: “Well, go track him down and tell him he’s wanted on line one.”

A couple minutes pass and the line is still blinking.

Person 3: “Hello, who are you holding for? Steve? Oh, I don’t see him here. Perhaps you could try him on his cell phone. Hold on a minute and I’ll get that number for you.”

Person 1: “Hello. We’re having a hard time finding Steve. Can I help you with something?”

With the right technology, even small fleets can appear large, or at least appear as professional and efficient as a large carrier, in the eyes of customers. When a customer calls, the last thing he or she expects is to be placed on hold, transferred to a general voice mail or be told to hang up and call a different number.

Having a mobile workforce makes it even more essential to create a seamless experience for customers. With a virtual phone system, you can provide customers and all professional contacts with a single, toll-free number. When dialing this number they hear a greeting and select from a menu to be directed to the right person in the company, wherever that person may be.

Grasshopper is one such service. Starting at $12 a month, small businesses get a toll-free number, a greeting and a menu of extensions for everyone in the company. Each extension includes voice mail, call forwarding, and other services.

Employees can log in to the Grasshopper website at any time to manage their extension. They could change their voice mail greeting or call forwarding setting. An employee may want calls to go to their land line during business hours and to their cell phone or Skype after hours. Any voice mail they receive is routed, digitally, to their e-mail for mobile access. All outgoing calls, whether from a cell phone or land line, can be set to appear as coming from a single business line.

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The cloud-based service requires no installation of software or hardware. Grasshopper says it likes to work with small businesses with 1 to 20 employees.