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7 Quick Tips for Increasing Your Business’s Reach with Toll Free Numbers

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Are you thinking about getting a toll free number for your business? If you are running an eCommerce store or need to provide a customer service line, then you will want to consider getting one for your business. A toll free number is a national phone line that your customers can call for free from anywhere in the US. Virtual toll free phone numbers free up office space by connecting through the internet instead of a landline, which means you can connect your phone number to forward to any device of your choosing. Providing your customers with a phone line that they can call offers a way for your customers to reach out when they have an issue, and it creates another avenue in which they can make a purchase. If you’re still not sure how you can make your toll free phone number work for your business, check out these 7 quick pointers aimed at upping your business’s reach.

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1. Make It Easy To Remember

Providing a toll free number for your business allows you to advertise with one number. No matter where your employees, stores, or customers are located, you can provide everyone with one number to dial. When your customers see this toll free number advertised somewhere they will automatically know it is for your brand, therefore, when you choose the toll free number that you want, make sure you choose one that has a nice flow to it or consider getting a vanity number.

2. Handle Higher Call Volumes

Toll free numbers are equipped with the ability to handle large calling volumes. Since they work in the Cloud, you won’t have to worry about a call dropping because toll free numbers offer call forwarding, meaning a phone call can be transferred instantly to the next available person.

3. Be Available 24/7

When a store is available at all times, a customer is more likely to trust that company with their business. Being able to answer your customers’ questions, take orders, and offer your customers a way to pay their bills over the phone at any time will create an instantly better relationship with your business and your customers. Customers won’t appreciate it if there isn’t a single phone number for them to contact if they have an issue.

4. Use IVR to Send Your Customers to the Right Agent

When your customers call your business, you can choose to greet them with an automatic message or send them straight to an available person. One way to tackle higher call volumes is to greet all of your customers with an initial welcome and continue onto a menu. Explain menu options so that your customer can choose with whom they want to speak to. For example, if they are looking to talk to someone in customer service, they can easily press a number to speak to customer service, but if they want to pay their bill, they can push the number that will direct them to the accounting office instead.

5. If You’re Going to Move, Port Your Number

If you have already invested in a toll free number and want to move locations, you can still move and keep your initial toll free number. If a move is better for your business, your toll free number won’t hold you back. You can still keep the number that you have been advertising with for years.

6. Reach a Larger Audience

Since toll free numbers work on a national level, you can promote your business outside of your town. Even if your shop is located in one neighborhood in one state, you can still advertise your products to customers located all over the US. When you have a toll free number, you offer your customers a free way to get into contact with your business. Which builds a certain level of trust.

7. Use Your Toll Free Number for Marketing Campaigns

You can try out new ways of marketing by associating each campaign with a different toll free number and then measure which numbers are getting the most calls. This will quickly help you to figure out what means of campaigning are working and where you can change up your direction.

How to Successfully Communicate with Your Customers

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Communication is one of the most critical pieces of a business model. It has a much more significant impact on sales and general workplace energy than most people recognize. Poor communication in a team project will always result in failure, and poor contact with clients will always result in dissatisfaction.

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If you want to make a difference between the satisfaction of your clients and customers, you have to be able to speak with them with knowledge, confidence, and positivity. These essential communication skills will make the difference in your success and give you a massive edge over your competition.

If you want to learn how to successfully communicate with your customers, read on to learn more tips and tricks.

Respond swiftly to customer inquiries

Don’t respond in a timely fashion; get to them right now! Although the typical business day is from 9-5, many of your customers will want answers outside of those traditional hours. If you are busy running the business on your own, you may be unavailable at all times. While that may seem entirely understandable, it may not be to your customers. Having a 24-hour customer service line, online chat service, or an email made exclusively for answering customers’ questions are the best tools for responding quickly. Purchasing a virtual phone number for your business will give your customers a direct line to your customer service representative or business, as well. The best part of virtual phone numbers is that they can be forwarded to any line at any time, so if you aren’t in the office to answer questions, their phone calls can be sent to someone that is, or to your mobile, if that works. That way you never have to miss a phone call. Plus these virtual phone numbers come with automated menus, and features that allow you to convert voicemails into emails. If you absolutely must let a phone call go to voicemail, be sure that you are clear in your voicemail responses. Voicemail messages should include your business hours, the best time to reach you, and what details they should leave in the message so you can have the problem resolved by the time you get back to them at a more convenient time. For your email, set up an automatic response that their request was received and that you will get back to them as soon as possible, or direct them to a phone number that they can call in the meantime if it is urgent.

Get to know your clients

Your company may be what attracts your clients and customers at first, but it is the people that you employ that gets them to return. Building relationships and hiring people that can turn small talk into conversations are crucial to making your business successful. After all, without customers, your company will fail.

Treat your customers with respect

While the customers are coming to you with questions about the product or you are selling them services based on your expertise, respect should be the foundation of your interaction. Because although they want your product or service, they ultimately decide whether or not to buy. When you are working with a client on a project, take time to discover their goals and keep in constant touch with them. That way you can avoid any confusion with the final project and flush out any roadblocks that may come out during the planning process. Also, never deviate from the plan without informing the client first. And when you present your ideas, it is a good idea to introduce any ideas with a list of pros, cons, and associated risks. That way you can lean them towards what you think will work while still giving them a variety of options to choose from.

Use a project management tool

There are many project management tools available for businesses to choose from that will help your business exponentially when dealing with multiple clients. These systems are set up to put your clients first and to ensure that project details don’t fall through the cracks. Project management tools provide a way to lay out a plan, and they make collaboration easy between project members. This is especially useful if you are collaborating with partners across time zones. When looking for software for a project-management tool, be sure that you choose one that allows you to share the process with your clients and team members directly. When a client has access to the process, such as meeting times and scheduling, in real time, this builds trust and shows that your business can be transparent and truthful with their clients.

Tips Your Startup Actually Needs

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Congratulations! You’ve founded your very own start-up! That’s a dream that only the best entrepreneurs can turn into a reality. While there is no shortage of information out there for startups, here’s some advice that you MUST have to lead your business to success. Read on for five tips that your startup needs.

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1. Find Your Fans

This is true for any business that is successful. When you find your loyal customers and the people who truly trust and believe in your product(s), then you can have great success if you focus on pleasing them. Take time to thank your loyal customers and to listen to them. Find out what they expect and need out of your product. Your products and services should always be changing and getting better when you’re a start-up. All new startups should invest in a virtual phone number for their customer service line. It takes up minimal start-up cost, and you can find a plan that fits your specific needs and budget very quickly. Plus, with a virtual phone number, you can create a top-notch customer service line that will allow you and your customers to stay in touch, enabling you to nurture a prosperous, mutually-beneficial business relationship.

2. Create Your Own Product Category

When you don’t have any competition, it’s easy to be number 1. Take Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram for example. They all began as social media sites whose biggest comparison was to that of Facebook. But what actually made them so strong and so unique was that they were nothing like Facebook. Twitter offers an outlet to find news and express your opinions on current events and pop culture topics, or even share what you had for lunch that day. As long as it was stated in 140 characters, or now 280 or less, you could write it and post it up for all to see.

3. Efficiency is Key

It is better to start out with a smaller staff, especially, if your start-up is on a budget. It might seem like you need to begin hiring people right away as your business starts to grow, but sometimes it’s better to look inward and find out what is working within your industry and what isn’t. Instead of expanding right away, think about dispersing the people you have onto projects that are pressing right away. Eventually, you will have to hire as your business grows, but in the first year or so, it is better to get a flow for what works for your company and what doesn’t before adding on additional people just to have to let them go when you can’t find the funding.

4. Offer a Better Product, and Price it That Way

A great thing about having a start-up business and working on one great product or a core-set of great products means that you can price your product above that of your competition. That might not sound like the best idea right off the bat, but think about it; bigger businesses can slash their prices more easily to compete with the smaller guys with no problem. When you dedicate your business solely to creating the best, for example, soap, you can market it and price it as a handmade and one-of-a-kind product that is good for you, the environment, pets, whatever. Use your niche to your advantage.

5. Marketing

Impress your customers with an eye-catching logo, an easy-to-navigate homepage, and a thorough and professional website. All of your marketing pieces should be the highest quality so you can make a great first impression. If you can’t afford an in-house graphic designer, try to hire a freelancer, or if you are really low on cash, you can check out Canva, where anyone can create beautiful visual design pieces from professional templates.

Once you have created your perfect website, built a winning team, put your best product forward with the right price, and raised your customer service game, you will be well on your way to having a successful startup.

Expanding a Business Overseas with Virtual Phone Numbers

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Many businesses have decided to go global to compete, but the competition has become more fierce in recent years because of the influx of businesses expanding, not only in America, but abroad as well. A product that might do well in America may be able to sell even more in markets like Japan or India. If you are thinking of taking your business abroad, then you may be able to get a leg up on the competition by following these tips.

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Competition is a Good Thing

As the number of competing businesses grow, so do the number of opportunities. New markets are opening all the time and existing markets are always expanding. New and old businesses should be prepared to take hold of new opportunities whenever they are presented. Thanks to huge improvements in technology and the telecom industry, almost any business can be easily equipped for international business.

International Virtual Phone Numbers

One of the most accessible pieces of technology available to a business is an international virtual phone number. These phone numbers are affordable and very popular with a variety of businesses. International virtual phone numbers work like any other phone number except that they are not bound to one single device. The number can be used to take inbound calls or make outbound calls from multiple devices. The best part is that the number can be hosted in your home country, yet international customers will still have access to your business.

The international virtual phone number is hosted on a Call Forwarding system that redirects phone calls from international territories to a local phone line. For example, a caller in the United Kingdom will be forwarded to your chosen local line in America. The caller from the UK will also not have to incur extra international calling fees. The customer saves money while your business saves money by not having to build international offices and hire new employees. If it is your end-goal to eventually build offices abroad, an international virtual phone number is a great way to establish roots in a new market.

Benefits of Using an International Virtual Phone Number

The strides made in telecom technology have created an easy path for more and more businesses to expand overseas. Because the virtual phone number matches a local number used in the foreign country or city of your choosing, the customer will not realize that the call is actually being answered in another country. This is important because many customers will not want to purchase your products if they cannot reach you by telephone. If a customer has a question about a product or wants to discuss exchanges, returns, or they simply want to let you know that they enjoy your product, they will hardly be eager to have to call an international phone number and incur charges to their phone bill.

International phone numbers can be used to enhance your business’ public image. You can control the image you want your business to convey by branding your business as a large and successful global company by having several points of contact in multiple foreign nations. Even if you are running your business from your kitchen island, you can still portray an image of being a big deal.

Purchasing an international virtual phone number will allow you to have a presence all over the world for a very low cost. You will save on international offices and a new international staff.

International virtual phone numbers also allow your company to maintain business relationships with contacts in foreign countries. Communication is key in every relationship and very important when you decide to take your business abroad.

United World Telecom offers a variety of international phone numbers in over 140 different countries. They also offer a variety of plans and access to features contingent upon your business’ needs. Whether you own a small business or are operating a large corporation, there are options that will enable you to obtain the international phone numbers you need. To learn more call us at 1 (888) 908-6171.

The History of Toll Free Numbers

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Toll free telephone numbers are used as a tool for businesses to incur the charges that would normally be charged to the customer trying to reach them. It is important for businesses to offer easy ways for their customers to contact them. Companies who provide free and simple ways to communicate with their customers become successful because they are able to establish brand loyalty.

Brand loyalty is created through the building of a relationship and trust with their customers, which can only be done through communication. But what is the history behind toll free phone numbers?

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Automatic Collect Calling

In 1967, AT&T decided it was time to reduce the number of collect calls and allow their phone operators a much-needed break. They called it “automatic collect calling” and we know it as toll free numbers today. Right away, automatic collect calling grew in popularity in specific industries such as car rental companies and hotels since they took many phone calls a day for reservations.

The first call center was created, and its job was to host 800 numbers for a variety of companies. The first call center did not last and eventually went out of business. However, businesses still wanted to keep their toll free phone numbers. The need for companies to have their own 800 numbers prompted them to create their own independent call centers, all located in Omaha, Nebraska. It was the easiest place to start a call center because AT&T had an office there and would set up call centers in just one day. Whereas in other parts of the US it could take up to several weeks. Because of the quick turnaround time and huge congregation of call centers, the town earned the nickname, “Res City.”

The business model still wasn’t perfect, though. The reason so many businesses were choosing the same spot was that companies needed two 800 numbers; one for in-state and one for out-of-state calls. Everything that was out of state would be rerouted to AT&T, and because AT&T was right there in Omaha, it was able to handle the barrage of out-of-state-calls.

The Introduction of Customizable 800 Numbers

Luckily, by 1981, AT&T updated their system. New technology allowed AT&T to sort all calls through to a “central clearinghouse.” Along with these technological upgrades came the ability to offer customized 800 numbers, which was the beginning of vanity numbers. However, vanity numbers were not yet affordable to all companies because toll free numbers were under one monopoly. The FCC stepped in in 1984 and broke up the monopoly. Since regional companies had access to the technology, the companies were then able to offer competitive rates. Vanity numbers began to take off in popularity because they were affordable. Furthermore, businesses had the opportunity to switch telephone providers without having to go through an expensive and drawn out process because a law instated in 1994 guaranteed phone number portability.

After 1994, vanity and toll free numbers weren’t just fashionable, they became a critical business staple. It was the smartest choice for any company that wanted to operate on a national level to have one phone number to satisfy all of their clients throughout the US. Soon the demand for these 800 numbers outweighed the supply, and new toll free numbers had to be introduced. These new prefixes include 855, 866, 877, and 888.

Toll Free Numbers: A Business Staple

After the introduction of cell phones and the internet, the need for toll free numbers abated from its original fast rise in popularity. Today, the toll free number has changed from a business staple into a sign of professionalism and trust in a business. That does not mean that toll free numbers have not kept up with the changes in technology, however. Now 800 numbers can be routed directly to personal cell phones as well as call centers. It has taken over 50 years, but now home-based businesses, sole proprietorships, and small start-ups can afford toll free phone numbers which are the mark of professionalism, previously only a luxury available to the largest corporations.

If you are interested in setting up a toll free number or vanity number for your business, check out the available toll free numbers and vanity numbers that are available from UnitedWorldTelecom.com.

Political Awareness in Our Divided, Bi-Partisan World

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Many people have turned away from the idea of being politically aware because they have seen the games of politics used to manipulate and tear others down. The truth is, however, when political awareness is used as a force for good it is an essential skill of life. Whether it is in voting our lawmakers into office or in getting things accomplished within organizations, political awareness gives us an understanding of the power webs and helps us to navigate through these power webs to get things done. Though the idea of political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world may have some negative connotations tied to it that may give us an inclination to run in the other direction, it is, perhaps, more important than ever to make efforts to consistently remain politically aware.

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Awareness Requires Understanding

With regard to electing lawmakers, here is something that’s important to understand: the point is not about determining which side you are on; what matters is that you are forming your own opinions based on awareness. Understanding the policies each candidate stands for and then determining which candidate best suits your beliefs is critical. The right to vote is something to be valued, there will always be debates about who is the better candidate. At the same time, knowing about policies and about those running for office is what helps us to make informed decisions regarding what will help to further shape our society and our future.

Beyond the political awareness that is needed in making informed decisions pertaining to lawmakers, political awareness is an aspect of emotional intelligence (EI). As a business leader, the higher you progress within a company, the more stakeholders you will be required to work with. Each stakeholder has a different set of priorities, goals, agendas, and personal dislikes/ likes. Political awareness affords you the ability to understand these different types of people and use this knowledge to successfully lead in business. By understanding more, you can work more easily with different viewpoints, have a greater influence, and essentially, satisfy more people.

All of this is needed for success in business, thus offering another important reason why political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world is so incredibly important.

Effective Leadership is at the Core of Politics

Rather than focusing on political awareness as something that is burdensome, one should look at it as an essential element of leadership that can be used well in order to get things done; in order to progress. There is not a single leader that can afford to turn a blind eye to the political dimensions that inevitably exist within their organization. Organizational politics is about the methods needed in order to get things done, who holds the power to make decisions to get those things done, and who the main people are that influence the decision makers.

Politics will always exist whenever groups of people come together, whether for electing public officials or running an organization. It is a natural fact of life that makes it extremely important to have and encourage political awareness. Developing political awareness skills may start with a simple evaluation of self to become more aware of one’s current state. Are you a good listener?

Where Do You Stand in Terms of Political Awareness?

How politically aware are you currently? How do you handle political disagreements in business, in politics, and in life? Once you have a good grasp on this, then it is time to evaluate the areas where you wish to improve and fine tune things. Remember, political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world is more than having disagreements with people based on political party or a single issue. It is more about the big picture. It is about being as informed as we can be, on as many issues that affect us as possible, and then making informed decisions based on those issues. It is about being able to discuss differences in a diplomatic way, practicing active listening and trying to work toward the greater good for all in the long term.

The Skills You Need for Effective Leadership

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Whether you are an office manager, a project leader, or the CEO, all effective leaders require a number of skills to help positively and successfully interact with staff and other team members. Here are a few of the skills you need for effective leadership:

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The Power of Communication

Communication easily ranks at the top with regard to the skills you need for effective leadership. As a leader, you have to be able to clearly and concisely explain things to your employees. Topics that require communication by a leader may range from a description of goals to details involved in a specific task. Effective leaders have to master all forms of communication, including but not limited to full staff discussions, one-on-one, and communication via telephone, social media, and email. A large part of communication revolves around listening, so leaders should establish a clear and easy flow of communication with their team and staff through regular conversations and an open door policy. Other necessary skills that fall under communication include: clarity, articulation, business storytelling, expression, presentation, reading body language, and reducing ambiguity.

Another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate. Effective leaders must be able to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for the company. There are many ways to accomplish this. Among them are: building employee self esteem through recognition and rewards and giving more responsibility to those who show extra initiative, thereby increasing their investment in the company. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related directly to motivation are asking for input, mentoring, team building, thanking staff, and understanding employee differences and concerns.

The Importance of Effective Leadership

Leaders who attempt to take on too many tasks themselves will face challenges in getting things done. Some leaders fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when it is actually a sign of a strong leader. Therefore, another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is in identifying the skills of each of your staff members and assigning duties to each of the staff members based on their skill set. By delegating, you are able to focus on other important tasks.

Positivity can go a long way in running a business. Being able to laugh at yourself when something goes wrong helps to create a healthy and happy work environment, even during stressful and busy periods of time. Simple acts like asking staff members about holiday plans can help to boost morale in the workplace. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related to infusing positivity in the workplace are developing rapport, humor, helping others, friendliness, respect, empathy, and diplomacy.

Character Traits of Leadership

Trustworthiness is yet another one of the skills you need for effective leadership. Employees should be able to feel comfortable going to their leader with questions or concerns. It is important for a leader to demonstrate integrity as employees will only trust leaders that they can respect. Being open and honest will encourage the same kind of honesty in your staff. The ability to apologize, along with having credibility, accountability, business ethics, consistent behavior towards employees, emotional intelligence, empathy, reliability, and thoughtfulness all support the building of trust with your staff.

A few more of the skills you need for effective leadership include:

  • Creativity: the ability to think outside of the box, analyze, embrace different perspectives, observe, be open minded, and innovate.
  • Give feedback: offer positive reinforcement, mentoring, coaching, and a clear layout of expectations.
  • Responsibility: A leader is responsible for failures and successes and should be willing to accept responsibility when something goes wrong and also evaluate best solutions, learn from mistakes, and reflect.
  • Commitment: this includes follow through, determination, passion, and work ethic.

Last but certainly not least, flexibility is one of the skills you need for effective leadership that is most important as mishaps and last minute changes happen often. Adaptability is critical in being an effective leader.