January 26th, 2011

The recent BBC series Turn Back Time – The High Street, highlighted how customers preferred the ‘personal touch’ from businesses. In the digital age, we don’t all have shops, see customers face-to-face or rely on word of mouth to promote products. However, there are ways of making the most of advertising and at the same time ensure that you leave an excellent and lasting impression with your customers. When conversing with a customer, communication is the key to promoting your product.



According to the Foundation for Business, something that frustrates customers when making initial contact is if an up to date telephone number are difficult to locate. For example, many people bury their contact details at the bottom of their home page – or on the ‘Contact Details’ page which is usually the last one customers come to.

Trust, openness and ease of communication can see a vast improvement in sales. Websites that show their contact number in a large font and vibrant colour at the top of every page means that wherever the customer is searching, your contact number can always be seen and contacted expediently.



Aside from websites, you can advertise your number everywhere. Be clear and don’t hide your number away. Just a few ideas are business cards (people often keep these for future reference), leaflets and circulars, letterheads, on your van or car, bags, invoices, envelopes, social networking sites, create amusing t-shirts, bumper stickers, bookmarks, in other people’s shop fronts, press releases, blogs, internet cafe screen savers, and, if you can afford it, sponsorship such as children’s football teams and through charity donations. Where ever you do decide to advertise, make sure your number is prominent and easy to read. Make yourself accessible to potential clients at all times.



These days’ people remember very few numbers if any. How many business numbers can you recite off the top of your head? Whether it’s the local Chinese takeaway, plumber or jobcentre, today’s reflex action is to look it up on the internet. My local takeaway could change their number every week and I would be none-the-wiser (I don’t even know my mobile number. I only remember my mum’s home number as its been the same since 1978). It doesn’t matter if you change your number. Customers will Google or look you up by company name or by type of service or product and take it from there. As life is full of pin codes and passwords as it is, a change of number is unlikely to effect your customer base.



When phoning a customer, consider for a minute how you would like to be spoken to when conducting business. Customer service courses advise that operators have good posture when speaking – which helps you project your voice more successfully, and to smile when you talk which presents a positive and friendly image. It may seem dubious, but it does have a good psychological effect on the client. Enthusiasm is contagious.



Although automation of services improves the speed of delivery, and accurate data, there is something in the psyche of consumers that still enjoy and appreciate a bit of personal service. Getting the name and title correct of a client can often be a deal breaker. Why would you want to do business or buy from someone who calls you Mrs Smith when you are Mr Smythe? If basic details are used incorrectly, then how can you trust someone to deal with your requirements competently?

Each customer should be considered as a unique individual. Operators that can pick up hints and cues from the caller and retain the information for a later date are more likely to complete lucrative transactions. Offering a live person to deal with rather than email can often give your company the edge and is a constructive way of cultivating trust.



Part of promotion and advertising is having correct and in depth information about your services or products to impart. This of course, relies on up to date details being relayed to the telephone operative, and ensuring they feel confident and clear about what can and what cannot be supplied. Broken promises and being transferred endlessly round a company will not inspire confidence.



If you used a virtual switchboard solution for your business, then these come with an option of call whisper system. This means that although you advertise different phone numbers which are configured for different purposes (e.g. sales, admin, support etc), when the calls come through to your one designated land line or mobile, the operator will be aware of the purpose of the call before speaking to the client. Therefore, they will be aware, prepared and able to specify the nature of the call. This can assist a business in giving a more professional image or give a company a larger feel.



If someone has a positive experience and is happy with the service, then a happy client is one of the best forms of free advertising you can get. If you have a fantastic product or offer a great service, people are more than willing to pass the word on. This of course is a double edged sword, where bad customer service or a duff product can have a detrimental effect.

Where advertising is concerned, the three rules to remember are

  • Be creative your method and type of advertising
  • Communicate effectively – get your company name in people’s minds
  • Concentrate on requirements and service to receive return business and retain those customers!