Market musings

What’s the Point of a Business Phone Line in an Ecommerce World?

by Sasha Viasasha
October 13, 2017

Have you ever tried to call Amazon or Uber? These ecommerce giants and many like them could certainly afford a contact center, but they have made the conscious choice to discourage customers from contacting them over the phone.

Is that a good idea? Here are three ways ecommerce and SaaS companies can benefit from keeping an active business phone line open to the public.

Customer Experience

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos explained their no phone strategy by saying, “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

The counter argument was laid out by customer experience expert Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos:“On many websites the contact information is buried at least five links deep, because the company doesn’t really want to hear from you. And when you find it, it’s a form or an e-mail address. We take the exact opposite approach. We put our phone number (it’s 800-927-7671, in case you’d like to call) at the top of every single page of our website, because we actually want to talk to our customers.”

This pro-phone sentiment was echoed by the CEO of Rackspace Taylor Rhodes, who promised, “We will be available to you by phone or ticket, 24/7 — within minutes. We won’t send you to FAQs or message boards for support. We will be there for your team, backing you up with Fanatical Support.”

Harvard Business Review confirmed the financial wisdom of this course of action, stating the customers still want to talk to a human being and pointing out that "calls are 10-15 times more likely to generate a successful sale or follow-up activity than digital form submissions, which means they are more efficient in generating revenue."

Notice that even though Amazon and Uber don't prominently display their phone numbers, both still maintain office phone systems. Uber recently added 24/7 phone support for drivers and Amazon's AWS phone support options are very different from the B2C side. 

Beyond customer service, though, one of the most significant benefits of a business phone line is its role in educating your target market about what your business can do for them.

Getting your message across

Some people are visual learners, some do better with audible instructions and others need interactive media to fully absorb new information. While an understanding of how people process information can help you broaden your content marketing portfolio, it's equally important to recognize the unique ability voice holds for improving learning.

A scientific research study found that people learn tasks better from spoken instructions, over following visual instructions or learning by watching. The researchers tested a hypothesis that early humans developed spoken language as they taught tool-making to the next generation. The experiment showed that people did a better job of making simple tools when they worked from spoken instructions rather than gestures only from the instructor or simply watching others make the tools.

The point is that information transmitted by voice is processed very differently than visual information, and spoken language is much more ancient than written language. When you want to make sure that you deliver your message clearly or educate target audiences on your business model, you will have more success by just talking about it than by posting countless white papers. Speaking has benefits that written communication can’t match.

Separating signal from noise

Video calling has been a staple of science fiction for decades. Now that it’s finally here, many people still prefer calls without a visual component, for a variety of reasons. One of the best reasons is that visual input distracts the listener from the message. 

A Yale study on the power of voice concluded that, “people are better able to pick up on the emotions of others when simply focusing on their voice, compared with both watching and listening to them, or just watching them.” Closing your eyes while on the phone can help you get a better read on what the speaker is feeling. The study also said that facial expressions often mask a speaker’s true feelings, such as with a polite smile. It's much more difficult to mask the emotion in their voice.

Does your business phone system really help you make and answer more calls?

While it should have been obvious to office phone system providers, some business phone systems don't actually help people talk to each other. They are too hard to set up and too hard to use. At Spoke, we believe that talking is the best way to solve problems fast, so we built a phone system that getting more calls made and answered.

Many small business owners say that revenue from an online store can't justify the costs of a hosted PBX system or a business VoIP line. In that case, a vitual phone system makes a lot more sense. It opens up essential business benefits at a tiny monthly cost per user and no capital investment in hardware.

We've built a simple, intuitive interface that employees and customers want to use. Based on how small businesses actually use their phone systems, we found that less is more in terms of what they need to do with their phones. We've designed Spoke around the core calling features that small companies need and want. The Spoke network was built to be deployed across your mobile phone infrastructure and administered from a simple app. Simple to install and easy to use.

Our smart directory keeps track of all your business calls and supports your company with features like an AI receptionist, easy call transfer, and group calling. You can choose a business phone line or port over the number you're already using. The Spoke app masks employees numbers so you can feel secure when they use their own device. It provides call context and presence, combining the low pressure of texting with the high problem resolution power of a phone call.

Speak up and use your voice

Want to learn more about how Spoke can help your employees talk to more customers and solve more problems? Contact us for a demo, and let's figure out how we can get you talking.