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Toll Free Virtual Number: An After Hours Customer Service Solution

Sep 16, 2008
In part because of the Internet, more and more customers are looking to do business after normal business hours. They surf the Internet for the products they are interested in, search for websites of the businesses they want to get these products from, then look at the business itself to see how they can get the products from them. Can they order online? How can they get their questions answered? Can they call? Can they do it now? At 9:48pm?

Obviously you want to give your customers choices when it comes to dealing with you whether they are placing an order, have some questions, or are current customers with issues that need to be addressed. Websites have come to the aid in many of these cases but, many people are not comfortable dealing with a company solely online. Many people want to pick up the phone and call. Ideally, you would be there to answer the phone. Now you obviously can't stay open 24 hours a day to take those calls but, with more and more people doing their business after hours it's important for you to able to provide information and services for your customers whenever they need it. A toll free virtual number will provide additional after hours benefits to both you and your customers without the need for additional after hours customer service staffing.

1. Take advantage of a special after hours greeting. Let your callers know that while you are not currently open for business, they do still have options available to them. You can also assure them that they can feel confident that if they leave a message, you will return their call promptly in the morning.

2. Create Frequently Asked Questions recordings. Many times people call in with the same questions. Instead of making these people wait until the next morning to get the answers they need, a toll free virtual number can direct them to a question and answer tree of previously recorded information. This will reduce their frustration and increase their confidence and satisfaction in doing business with you.

3. Set up order taking mailboxes. For those customers that are trying to do business with you after hours but are not comfortable sending their sensitive information over the Internet, this allows them another option. An order taking mailbox will ask all of the necessary questions to complete the order for you and have it waiting for you when you return to work the next day. The customer is happy because they were able to place their order at their convenience, in a way that they were comfortable with and you don't lose the sale to a competitor because of a lack of ordering options.

4. Be available for emergencies. If you have a business that sometimes is required to respond to emergencies, you can assign one of the extensions of your toll free virtual number to be for emergencies only. This extension can be immediately forwarded to any local number anywhere. Other options could include having voicemails that come into this extension be delivered to multiple email addresses or voicemails that come into this extension could trigger a notification call or page to the appropriate person required to respond to the emergency.

5. Still have full functionality of your number. While your toll free virtual number is in after hours mode it is simply offering added functionality for your customers. You don't lose any of the regular functions that you use every day. So that means that all of your employees extensions and voicemail boxes are still accessible, any recordings that you have set up such as hours of operation or directions to your locations still work, and faxes still continue to come in and get routed to the appropriate place.

You can't be available to your customers 24/7 but, that doesn't mean that they don't expect you to be. While websites have extended the customer service availability hours for businesses, not all of their customers are comfortable dealing with them solely online. You can provide those customers other options by using a toll free virtual number as an after hours customers service solution.
About the Author
Brandi Cummings, an expert author on the unique issues facing small and home based businesses, recommends checking out http://www.Freedom800.com a leading provider of virtual toll free numbers.
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