As a business owner it’s vital that you are always available to your clients, but you may be risking future success if you’re relying on a land-line or traditional cell phone number.
Your phone number will quickly become listed in both online and offline directories. Customers may even begin to store your business number as a contact in their phones. So imagine the horror if you lost your phone number and your customers were unable to reach you. Unfortunately, this is the nightmare that so many business owners find themselves living.
Forward-looking business owners are turning to the services of a virtual phone system to alleviate these risks. Things have really come a long way in regards to phone service options, so it’s always a good idea to utilize new technology to make your life easier.
Incorrect Business Contact Information Negatively Impacts Consumer Behavior
When it comes to positively influencing customer responses to your business, accuracy and consistency matter. In addition to ensuring your customers can get in touch with you, a business that changes contact information can impact the way your customer’s perceive whether you are a reputable business.
When you lose access to your business number, the number printed on your business cards, listed on advertising materials, and saved as the contact number by all the contacts you’ve diligently collected, are all incorrect. In addition to negatively impacting your customer base, updating these materials can become a time-consuming, expensive hassle.
A recent consumer behavior study revealed compelling data about consumer’s attitudes regarding incorrect business contact information.
When consumers experienced finding incorrect online business contact information:
Consumer behavior related to business contact information is also revealing:
It is clear that customers expect reputable businesses to maintain consistent contact information, including a phone number that is consistently and accurately listed both online and off.
How Common Cell and Landline Issues Can Lead to Loss of a Business Number
A virtual phone service can help you define your business as a stable, modern company with top-notch communication systems. When you use a virtual system, you alleviate the risk of losing your number that comes with cell phones and landlines.
Cell Phone Provider Issues
Communicating in the twenty-first century is easier than ever thanks to the convenience and portability of mobile devices. The cell provider landscape is cluttered with dozens of companies competing for your business, sometimes offering a significantly better rate and terms than your current provider. CNN reports that mobile customers change providers an average of every two years, when their contracts expire.
And it’s no wonder. Introductory rates are often far more attractive than your current plan offers. Hopping from carrier to carrier can make good financial sense.
Those cost savings may not be worth the risk to business owners who are relying on keeping the same contact info intact so customers have no communication barriers when they need to contact them.
There Are Reasons This Can Happen
Many times, cell phone providers are not able to port your current number over to your new plan, which will be assigned a new phone number.
There are a few reasons this can happen:
Another common cell phone issue is quality related. Spotty coverage, dropped calls, and bad connections are still frequent issues for many cell phone users. When your clients call, you want to be able to provide the best calling experience possible.
A vps provider can promise solid, clear connections and a host of features not available in most cell phone plans. Talkroute offers unlimited extensions, live call transfer, call stacking, call menus, and statistical data reporting so you can study your customers’ calling habits.
Landline calls are typically more consistently reliable than cell phone calls, but they are not without their own issues. Keeping your number, for instance, is not possible if your business moves to a location with a different area code.
While many traditional telephone companies offer call forwarding to cell phones, this service is often limited to calls in the same area code, or are subject to expensive long distance rates. The risk of missing calls or being unsure about calling costs are eliminated with a virtual phone system.
Other Associated Issues with Losing Your Business Number
In addition to these major concerns, there are a number of other potentially negative impacts that can come into play when you abandon your business phone number.
Identity Theft Risks
An unexpected risk associated with changing your business phone number is identity theft. This may seem like a highly unlikely scenario, but a surprising number of services and companies have your phone number on file. The fact is, most “new” phone numbers are actually recycled.
As this Los Angeles Times article explains, when you change numbers, the next person who gets assigned your number could start getting voicemails, texts, or even temporary passcodes for your secure logins.
The risk of this type of identity theft is greatly reduced when you partner with a reputable vps provider and maintain the same business phone number.
For a whole host of reasons, business owners sometimes decide to close up shop for a period of time. Some business owners intend to have a short break, while others aren’t sure if and when they will resume operations. Either way, it is important to hold on to your business number.
If you do reopen and still have the same number, you won’t have to start over from scratch when it comes to preparing printed materials or go through the headache of changing all your old online listings.
Another associated risk is that a competitor could swoop in and grab your phone number, along with the business you could be losing when your customers call your old number.
A vps provider can hold onto your number even when you aren’t actively running your business. You can even request the service to continue collecting voicemails and texts, and even alert you when you calls come through. When you’re ready to get back to business, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off.
Loss of Records
When you give up your business number, you may lose the ability to check associated voicemails, texts, and records. Losing this important information can impact customer service and revenue.
You can even lose access to this data when you keep your number but change cell phone providers. Your new provider is likely to reset everything associated with your number when you change SIM cards.
Virtual phone systems don’t carry this risk because they usually store this information online, accessible through your login to their online platform.
Impact of Lost and Stolen Phones
Over 3 million people a year report a stolen smartphone and almost 1.5 million manage to permanent lose their phones, which is problematic enough for a non-business phone. When it’s a business phone, there are several serious associated risks.
In the wrong hands, a lost or stolen phone’s data can be used for nefarious purposes, ranging from identity theft to bank fraud. Even if the data isn’t actively used in an illegal manner, however, thieves hoping to resell a stolen phone will wipe call data, voicemails, and texts from the device. On the off-chance that the phone is recovered, which is rare, all that valuable data will likely be permanently missing.
A vps will typically provide cloud storage, accessible from anywhere there is internet access, so you can get back on track quicker when you purchase a replacement phone.
International Travel Concerns
If your business or personal life takes you to another country, it can be an ordeal to figure out how to keep receiving your business calls while you are away from home. Some cell providers require you to purchase a different SIM card, while others keep working but charge you many times the usual rate per calling minute.
Many international regions have notoriously unreliable cell coverage, as well, leaving you in the dark while you’re traveling there. This can create obvious issues when it comes to customer service and consistent availability.
This is one of those issues that can spill over into your personal life, as well. When your loved ones back home need to get in touch immediately and you are in an area with poor cell service, you may miss important calls.
It may seem easier to switch to a local number while you are traveling to some locations, leading to confusion and hassle down the road.
Signing up with a virtual phone service provider can alleviate many of these concerns. Since internet service is often more readily available than cell service, you’ll be able to check in regularly through the service’s online portal.
Population Expansion Can Lead to Area Code Changes
While it is generally a positive to maintain a local business in an area that is experiencing population growth, phone companies must add new area codes to accommodate this increase.
If you opt to change your business phone number for any reason, there’s a good chance your new number may start with the new area code. Customers may perceive your business as newer, which may not be as compelling to them as a company that has the “old” area code and has presumably been around for awhile.
There are many compelling reasons to stick with the same business number for as long as you run that business. Chief among these may be the negative impact a business phone number change can have on your customer base. You risk both existing and potential customers when they aren’t able to quickly locate the correct contact information.
Changing to a new number is time-consuming and potentially expensive since you will need to update all your printed materials as well as all the places your number is listed online. There’s a good chance it won’t even be possible to make all the needed changes.
Virtual phone systems offer solutions to the risks associated with voluntarily or involuntarily giving up your business number. No matter where your business moves, you can take the same number with you, maintain messages and data associated with your number, and deliver clear, consistent service to your customers.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.