Recently, I’ve been asked whether I think an Internet business owner should have a business phone. Depending on the nature of your business, you may or may not need one. A lot of Internet business owners don’t have a business telephone and get along just fine.
If you’re a service provider, I don’t really think it’s necessary to have a publicly available business line. Now, some may disagree with me and say that you can lose clients by not being available by phone.
Sure, you can lose clients. You can also lose your time by answering questions from people who will never hire you. I know it sounds harsh, but open yourself up like that and you’ll have people calling you expecting free advice and all kinds of help and you have no time do your own stuff. That’s not what you started your online business for was it? You can have more clients than you can handle by keeping your business just online.
In fact, when I was still running a service business I never had made myself available on the phone – and I told potential clients that. I don’t think I ever had a client turn me down because they couldn’t get me on the phone.
Of course, if you have established clients who want to discuss details on the phone, that’s a completely different ballgame. In the case of an ALREADY paying client, I’d make exceptions.
In a consumer product business, it is more reasonable to have a phone number for customers. Because they are more than likely interested in things such as placing an order, clarifying features and those types of things those calling are less likely to drain your time.
If you do own a consumer product business, I would definitely outsource the customer service part of the calls. You are busy and have better things to concentrate your energy on. There is no need to handle calls that can easily be handed over to someone else.
Now, you might notice that I have a phone number posted over at my support desk, but it is voice mail only. Does this put some people off? Sure it does, but people who respect my need for privacy are the type of customers and clients I would rather do business with. And the truth is, we very rarely get a phone call from a customer.
Will I ever go away from strictly voice mail for my business? I might but only if it were phone support that was handled by customer service staff and not me, so I can continue to concentrate on what I do best. What about you?