The way we purchase goods and services has changed drastically over the last decade. The arrival of the digital economy is now virtually unstoppable and we rely on the internet for almost everything, from reading our emails or searching for news, to paying bills and taxes. But it is also having a significant impact on our shopping habits. More than two thirds of US online adults shop online at least monthly, and with the lowering costs of fulfilling and shipping goods to consumers, brick and mortar stores are finding it harder to differentiate themselves and provide value. Some consumers may still like the human touch but others like to check inventory online without being disturbed by a sales agent.
As a result, many traditional businesses have been looking for easy and affordable ways to provide their goods and services in person and online and some visionary companies have created new business models based on facilitating the creation and management of an online store in a very easy and affordable manner — based mainly on templates. One of these companies is Shopify, which provides affordable online stores that integrate payments, fulfillment tools, analytics and statistics, marketing guidelines and an entire support community that allows businesses to create their own online presence.
However, one aspect is still difficult, online businesses still need to provide customer support and a significant part of the businesses on Shopify are owned by one person who is providing customer support using their mobile phone to save costs.
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners know the hassles of running a business with your personal mobile phone. Constant calls after hours, on weekends and holidays, with no regard for personal privacy. Or sometimes your online customers and prospects can be in a different time zone and don’t realize that you may not be available.
Also, there is no way to differentiate calls from people with real emergencies that you need to resolve faster (a duplicated order, a payment that was rejected, an error in the shipping address…) from calls just looking for product information (and which may not even result in a complete sale).
Furthermore, people expect 24/7 support when shopping online, so having a phone number listed on your online store doesn’t help if the caller doesn’t get a response.
There are also other issues that are not as obvious, but can have serious economic consequences. For example, not long ago, a mobile security researcher discovered a vulnerability that exposed 95 percent of android devices to potential malware if the hacker obtained the user’s mobile number. So imagine how easy it is to get your number if you are displaying it on your online store! Also, if your business has more than one person and they are using their personal mobile phones, as an owner, you are giving up control over the business-customer communication. What happens if employees move to a competitor and customers keep calling their mobile number?
Fortunately, there is a better way. Now it is easy to get a dedicated second line for a Shopify store using Business Phone by Kandy directly from the Shopify App Store. Kandy is a state-of-the art communications platform that allows anyone to add communications capabilities such as video, voice and texting to their web and mobile apps. With Business Phone store owners can receive a dedicated phone number to place in their online store that includes:
- Business Voicemail
- Texting and Rich Messaging
- Differentiated business and personal incoming/outgoing calls and contacts
- Call notes to follow up on customers (mini-CRM tool)
- IVR auto-attendant for 24/7 professional answering
- Configurable business hours and out-of-hours call management
And all of this without having to buy a separate mobile phone. It runs on the user’s existing smartphone (iOS and Android) and uses regular phone calls (no VoIP) to ensure customer calls are always connected (regardless of broadband availability).
The optional SMB package adds:
- the ability to share the business phone number with up to 4 different phones (for those stores that are managed by multiple people)
- shared messaging among users (everyone sees incoming messages, if one responds, everyone sees the response)
- shared call notes (if one person adds a note to a customer call, everyone sees it)
- web portal for easier access to all the Business Phone settings and features
- and the star of the package: Kandy Visual Attendant, which adds the auto-attendant capability into the online store and allows customers to call directly from their web browser over the internet using WebRTC.
By allowing Shopify users to add real-time communications as a simple application add-on, small store owners can now provide “big business” customer service on a budget. Business Phone is affordable, convenient, easy to use and can be cancelled at any time.
But what if you are not a Shopify customer? What if you use GoDaddy instead? Don’t worry, Business Phone is also available for GoDaddy sites.
And stay tuned because our goal is to make it available in as many popular build-your-own-website services as we can. We’ll keep you updated on our progress in future blog posts.