Reliable communication mediums are crucial to any business, social enterprise or charity. While email (and to some extent social media platforms) are increasingly dominant communication mechanisms, the telephone remains a crucial pillar of an organisation’s operations.
If you can’t be easily contacted you risk missing crucial opportunities. This post explores a typical trajectory through different telecommunication solutions.
In the sole trader phase just stick to your mobile phone
As you get your business off the ground you may well be spinning a few plates. You may be holding down one or more other jobs to fund your emerging enterprise. In these circumstances it will save you lots of cash and hassle to focus your business communications around your mobile phone.
On most mobile phone contracts the bulk of the costs is effectively a monthly payment to cover the purchase of the phone that you receive ‘free’ at the start of the contract. For this reason, if you can use your existing mobile phone for business calls the additional costs will be quite minor.
Also avoid ‘business’ deals at this stage as they won’t be any cheaper and don’t become cheaper until you are buying a large number of phones for your employees. Instead, check out cheap online mobile phone providers like BuyMobilePhones.net for very good value mobile phone contracts.
With several people involved, obtain a single public contact number for your organisation
As you grow, it will quickly become inappropriate to focus communications around one person’s mobile phone. However, you can maintain flexibility through this transition by purchasing a public number that can then be quickly redirected to any other number.
0845 numbers are the cheapest option because the caller pays for these at ‘national rate’ (and mobile users pay at varying rates). Because of this they are not a good long term choice, but suitable while flexibility is necessary. This gives one reliable contact number that can be put on your website but redirected (on a daily basis if necessary) to different people or an answering service.
I have used www.just0845numbers.co.uk, which offers a good number of features for free.
0800 are another option but with these you will pay a charge each month and for each call. These are also less friendly than they used to be to your customers because most mobile operators don’t charge for calls to 0800 numbers and don’t include them in monthly minute bundles.
Once you have an office, use a local number as your main contact number
Once you have an office, even if you still use mobile phones for most outgoing call it is worthwhile getting a landline and publishing this number as your main contact number. This immediately improves your credibility because it implies that you have an office and are therefore a more established business.
Your phone company will offer you add-on services like call forwarding that can be used to deal with the fact that your office may not be manned all of the time.
Setting up a PBX (private branch exchange)
Once you have a few different people in the office and receiving calls on your advertised land line you will start to run into the problem that this line is frequently busy. This is not good for business and at this point you need to think about upgrading to a PBX, which is a simple computer system that allows you to manage your office telephone system more effective.
I will go through how to set-up an analogue PBX in a future post, so watch this space!