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What is a Follow the Sun Model?

follow the sun model

More and more customers expect their brands and businesses to offer 24/7 customer support. This is significantly important for businesses with a wide and international customer base. The Follow the …Read More »

Local Market Research: A Comprehensive Guide

local market research

Customers drive a business to success. Understanding your customers — who they are and where they come from — can help you offer better service. This is especially important when …Read More »

5 Essential Tools to Boost Business Communications

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Looking to improve your business phone system and improve customer relations? Here we will look at 5 essential tools that can improve business communications: IVR system, call recording software, outbound …Read More »

How Will Brexit Affect My Business? A Quick Guide

brexit business in uk and eu

New changes are happening all over the world — from adopting new business processes to nurturing social movements to adjusting to the global pandemic. And the much-talked-about Brexit deal is …Read More »

International Phone Etiquette for Business in 2021

international phone etiquette

Dealing with global customers is not always easy. Add to this, cultural differences, language barriers, and cultural nuances, and you have yourself a messy situation. However, you can prepare better …Read More »

What is the Best Time to Make a Business Phone Call?

best time to make a business phone call

Sales teams and telemarketers are finding it increasingly difficult to connect with potential clients and prospects. This is because there is a growing intolerance for business calls interrupting one’s already …Read More »

globe-hand

5 Essential Tools to Boost Business Communications


brexit business in uk and eu

How Will Brexit Affect My Business? A Quick Guide


international phone etiquette

International Phone Etiquette for Business in 2021


best time to make a business phone call

What is the Best Time to Make a Business Phone Call?


international 800 numbers

7 Reasons to Get an International 800 Number


SMS to an International Number

SMS is Not Dead: How Businesses Can Leverage SMS Marketing in 2021


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What is Customer Journey Mapping? (2021)


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6 Ways Customer Service Expectations Have Changed for 2021


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Meet Our 2020 International Business Communications Scholarship Winner – Jasper Moh


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Becoming an Entrepreneur in 2021


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NANP: The North American Numbering Plan Explained


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7 Useful Tips for Creating a Call Center Scorecard


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16 Tips to Ensure Outstanding Call Center Etiquette


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Your Complete Guide to Call Center Offshoring & BPO


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What Is a Chief Customer Officer and What Do They Do?


How Will Brexit Affect My Business? A Quick Guide

New changes are happening all over the world — from adopting new business processes to nurturing social movements to adjusting to the global pandemic. And the much-talked-about Brexit deal is one of these major changes. Curious about what Brexit means for businesses in the UK and EU? In this article, we look at the different business-related areas that will feel the impacts of the new Brexit deal.

How is Brexit Affecting Business in the EU and UK

Companies and business owners across the EU and UK are worried about Brexit and business continuity. As the transition period comes to an end, many businesses in Britain and Europe are wondering, “how will Brexit affect my business?” From business travel to communication to new customs regulations, there are many ways the Brexit deal can impact your business processes. In this post, we discuss how Brexit will affect:

  • Business Travel
  • Working and Studying Abroad (Work Visas, Education, and Erasmus)
  • Impact on Trade (Customs, Supply Chain, VAT Regime)
  • Mobile Roaming and Calling Charges
  • Online Services

Let’s get into the different ways that Brexit may affect businesses in the EU and United Kingdom.

1. Business Travel

One of the main areas that the new Brexit deal affects EU and UK companies is in regards to the new restrictions on business travel. Individuals traveling for work from the EU to the UK and vice versa have new regulations to keep in mind.

British travelers will face restrictions on their passports. For example, British travelers will need at least 6 months left on their passports to travel to the EU. While these travelers don’t need a visa to enter the EU, they will need travel authorization. At immigration, they may be questioned about the duration of their stay, returned bookings, financing plans, and so on. Conversely, national ID cards are no longer valid for European travelers entering Britain, except for particular cases. And EU travelers will need to go through customs checks at UK airports.

Other changes:

  1. Additionally, duty-free shopping will continue. However, there will be new allowances for the quantity of goods you can bring back to the United Kingdom.
  2. There is also a new set of rules and regulations to follow when driving abroad. UK licenses will no longer be recognized as the same as the EU. And British drivers driving in the EU may require an international driving permit.
  3. The EU will lose access to professional service providers (doctors, veterinarians, engineers, architects, etc.) from the UK. These professions will not be automatically recognized in Europe. And UK professionals with these qualifications will have to jump through regulations to get recognized.
  4. Financial services will also be affected. UK-registered and regulated banks have announced (and started making) plans to close accounts of citizens residing in the EU or EU economic area.

2. Working and Studying Abroad

With the new Brexit deal, working and studying abroad (between the UK and EU) has become more complicated. Since the Four Freedoms of the EU — freedom of movement of goods, capital, persons, and services — no longer apply to British citizens, they do not benefit from visa-less employment and education within the EU.

Work Visas

The UK will issue a new points-based immigration system that treats EU & non-EU citizens the same. With this new system, travelers from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland can travel to the UK for short trips without a visa. However, longer stays and employment will require an application under the new points-based system. As explained in TLDR News’ video on how Brexit will affect work visas, the points-based system requires applicants to accumulate a minimum of 70 points. Out of the 70 points, individuals applying must have a job offer (20 points), demonstrate a high skill level (20 points), and speak English (10 points) — these are mandatory. The remaining 20 points can be achieved through the other criteria as listed by the government.

Education and Erasmus

To study in any of the European countries, British citizens will require a visa from particular EU countries, if their courses run longer than 3 months. Additionally, they will no longer qualify for domestic fees when studying abroad. All of this makes going abroad for education more expensive.

Furthermore, British universities will no longer participate in the Erasmus program. This means that European students won’t be able to study temporarily in the UK through the program. And students who still want to pursue higher education in the UK will have to apply through the new points-based immigration system and deal with higher international fees.

3. Impact on Trade

While Britain was part of the EU, companies could buy and sell goods across EU borders without paying taxes. Additionally, there were no limits on the amount of items that could be traded. However, with the Brexit deal, a few changes come into effect:

Customs/Border Tariffs

Since exiting the EU Customs Union, Great Britain will longer enjoy the benefits of free trade, making the movement of goods across the EU and UK more difficult. Now, British importers and exporters (trading with Europe) are considered non-residents. Because of this, goods moving between the UK and EU now require customs declarations. However, these goods will not be subject to tariffs.

On the other hand, businesses that used to face competition from overseas (EU) companies will enjoy a competitive advantage. This is because UK customers will have to choose between expensive imports and cheaper domestic products.

Supply Chain

Businesses can expect delays in their supply chain, including shipping and deliveries, due to border checks and queues. It is expected that the “EU would immediately implement tough new checks on agri-food products, with no grace period.” This is not good news for perishable goods as they may get caught up in these checks and queues.

VAT Regime

UK will no longer be bound by the EU’s VAT regime. As a result, importers and customers receiving goods from the EU will be subject to VAT for imports. The British government might decide to change the system, including making new goods 0% VAT-rated. However, what exactly will happen in the UK related to the VAT regime is still not concretely decided.

4. Mobile Roaming and Calling Charges

Many are wondering if Brexit will bring roaming charges back to businesses and customers. More specifically, will Brexit mean that phone calls between the EU and UK are considered international?

While part of the EU, British phone carriers were subject to EU phone laws. Through these laws, people could call, text, and use data on the same terms in the United Kingdom and across Europe. In other words, they could use their data at no extra fees, even when within the EU. Unfortunately, these laws no longer apply to UK phone carriers. And carriers are not legally required to offer the same rates as they did before.

As of December 2020, Vodafone confirmed that they had no plans to bring back roaming charges. Other major operators — O2, EE, 3 — haven’t publicly confirmed that they will increase calling rates.

If roaming charges are brought back, businesses in and outside of Britain and the EU can use virtual phone numbers as an alternative. For example, an EU company can get a UK phone number to connect with local customers in the UK without worrying about roaming or international charges.

5. Online Services

Lastly, when within the EU, there was a legal guarantee that the UK would have access to online services. However, this guarantee is no longer valid. Individual providers will need to decide how to make adjustments and amend their provisions.

How Global Call Forwarding Can Help with Brexit

The Brexit deal has led to both victories and uncertainties for people of different sectors in the UK and EU societies. Global Call Forwarding can ease some of these concerns by providing businesses in the UK and EU with virtual phone numbers to help transition more effectively. You can sign up for a European virtual phone number or buy a toll free UK number on our website. Or, speak with our global specialists at 1 (888) 908 6171 to get a better understanding of how we can support your business during this change.

International Phone Etiquette for Business in 2021

Dealing with global customers is not always easy. Add to this, cultural differences, language barriers, and cultural nuances, and you have yourself a messy situation. However, you can prepare better so that you navigate these differences professionally and develop valuable relationships. Follow the appropriate international phone etiquette when conducting business interactions with international customers and clients.

What is Proper International Phone Etiquette?

When working with global customers and clients, you will have to have in-person, phone, and video conversations to move forward or close deals. Oftentimes, people are so used to doing business within their country or locally that they may be unaware of international business conventions.

International phone etiquette is the awareness of the differences and subtleties between various countries and regions and how to navigate these differences in order to communicate effectively.

How to Communicate Well with International Customers

So, what factors of international communication do you need to keep in mind when connecting with global customers? Here are some key elements to pay attention to:

1. Respect their Titles
When conducting business interactions, make sure you are aware of local conventions for addressing your attendees. Different countries have different cultural conventions for addressing one another. For example, in the US, using words such as “guys” may be common during business meetings. However, in countries like Japan and Germany, conventions are different: In Japan, it is polite to address someone by their first name, followed by “san.” On the other hand, in Germany, first names are not preferred. Instead, people are addressed by Herr/Frau followed by their last name. Being aware of these nuances can help you develop demonstrate respect and stronger relationships.

2. Listen Carefully and Actively
When dealing with international clients and business partners, a common challenge is understanding and interpreting accents. A second challenge is misunderstanding cultural references. To counter this issue, listen actively and carefully and when needed, ask for clarification. This is an important part of international phone etiquette. Furthermore, be clear in your own pronunciation and diction; speak slowly and clearly. If required, rephrase your sentence for better clarity and to avoid misunderstandings.

3. Don’t Use Slang
Avoid local and cultural slang, colloquialisms, or references as this may not work in an international setting. You will end up leaving your business partners or clients confused and they may see this as a sign of informality. In some cases, you may even offend some one. Awareness is required to identify and steer away from slang terms, phrases, and buzzwords.

4. Avoid Frustrations and Talking Down
Lastly, be careful when toeing the line of speaking clearly and dumbing down your words and sentences. You may run the risk of offending someone and sounding rude and patronizing. Be patient and focus on the common goal of communicating effectively.

Why is it Important to Practice Phone Etiquette?

Being aware of and practicing international phone etiquette can go a long way in securing essential deals and developing significant relationships. For many companies and clients, conducting business via phone and video conversations is a new shift.

In fact, some may still be apprehensive of closing deals without face-to-face interaction. If you do not show respect during phone conversations or are unaware of international business conventions, you may lose a valuable business relationship. And so, practicing phone etiquette can help you ease any discomfort and hesitancy.

The Do’s and Don’t of International Phone Etiquette

Below, we will look at the Do’s and Don’ts of international business phone etiquette for the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • China
  • South Africa
  • France
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • UAE
  • India
  • UK
  • Italy
  • USA
  • Japan

Australia

Do: Be bold. The business culture is accepting and respectful of new perspectives, even if they contradict others’ point of view. Expect business calls to be conducted in a relaxed affair, often casual and not purely focused on business. You may even be invited to informal gatherings outside of work.

Don’t: Avoid being too formal and procedural; business in Australia is often casual. Don’t schedule calls during the afternoons; Australian value and respect a work/life balance.

Brazil brazil

Do: People on the phone often confirm the identity of who they are speaking to, even if the phone call was arranged. So, expect to reiterate who you are.

Don’t Don’t be taken back by interruptions during important conversations. Enthusiastic and lively conversations are part of the Brazilian culture and interruptions and informal chatting are common.

China china

Do: Answer phone calls no matter where you are or what you are doing. Personal relationships are essential to the Chinese business culture, so strive to maintain relationships.

Don’t Don’t ignore calls, even if you are unprepared. Avoid rushing into decision-making or deal-closing processes; take time to nurture and create relationships.

France france

Do: The French have a conversational style of communication. Expect interruptions and enthusiastic tones.

Don’t: Avoid making small talk; it is often considered unnecessary and can make the recipient uncomfortable. Don’t schedule calls for small matters that could easily be discussed in an email. Lastly, don’t speak in French unless you speak the language fluently.

Germany germany

Do: Germany follows a formal code of conduct when it comes to business meetings and calls. They value efficiency and directness. It is normal to introduce yourself by stating your name, last name (surname), and the company you represent. Additionally, when addressing someone, use Herr/Frau (Mr/Mrs) and the person’s last name (surname) instead of their first name. Respect authorities and hierarchies.

Don’t: Avoid making business calls in the evening; specifically, after 5pm (M-T) and 4pm (F).

India india

Do: Begin by building a relationship or rapport through friendly and polite conversation.

Don’t: Avoid rushing right into business talk. Say “We’ll try” instead of “No” as a polite way of refusing. Avoid answering other calls when speaking with a client; the client should be your main priority.

Italy italy

Do: Get to the point quickly during business calls; Italian businesspeople are known to stay focused and will remind you when you begin to ramble. Focus on short-term goals and plans.

Don’t: Avoid small talk and casual conversation not related to work. Long-term goals and plans may not be discussed in every conversation.

phone etiquette

Japan japan

Do: Schedule business calls during office hours. Be aware of the meaning of the word “Yes” — unlike in the West, “yes” may mean maybe or perhaps instead of acceptance. Usually, “yes” is used as a polite alternative to “no.” Respect hierarchies and authorities.

Don’t: Avoid answering phone calls in public (business meetings, restaurants, public transport). Don’t slam the phone at the end of the call; place it down gently instead.

Mexico mexico

Do: Persistent calling is acceptable; don’t give up too easily.

Don’t: Most Mexican business is done during in-person meetings and so don’t try to close a deal over the phone.

Russia russia

Do: Be patient. Scheduling meetings and progressing through business processes and transactions can take a while.

Don’t: Avoid trying to close a deal through phone conversations as most business transactions and deals are made via in-person meetings.

South Africa south africa

Do: Business in South Africa relies on physical appearances and so in-person meetings are preferred over phone conversations.

Don’t: Business in South Africa occurs in a slow and orderly fashion and so avoid asking for specific deadlines or fast negotiations. Don’t use translators; English is the language business is conducted in.

Spain spain

Do: Be prepared for a lengthy business call filled with small talk and arguments relating to work.

Don’t: Greeting with “Hola” is considered disrespectful.

United Arab Emirates uae

Do: Silence is common when deliberating over key decisions. Be wary of key nuances in the English language; for example, “yes” may mean perhaps or maybe instead agreement as it does in the West.

Don’t: Avoid asking how female relatives (wives and daughters) are doing—this is considered highly inappropriate.

United Kingdom uk

Do: Expect plenty of niceties and small talk before a meeting begins. Time is valuable; be punctual and apologize when late.

Don’t: Avoid time-wasting processes. Don’t eat when talking (in-person or on the phone).

United States of America us

Do: The American business culture is accepting and encouraging of conducting business over the phone or video conferencing; in-person meetings are not always required. Expect business decisions to be made quickly.

Don’t: Even though American business meetings are informal and casual in tone, punctuality and deadlines are important. So, don’t be late to meetings or in delivering projects and tasks.

Invest in the Right Tools for International Communication

Global Call Forwarding can support your international communication efforts with our international toll free numbers. You can sign up online or speak with our global specialists by calling 1 (888) 908 6171.

What is the Best Time to Make a Business Phone Call?

Sales teams and telemarketers are finding it increasingly difficult to connect with potential clients and prospects. This is because there is a growing intolerance for business calls interrupting one’s already hectic workday. However, sales and customer care teams can be smart about this and find better ways to connect with customers and prospects. To do this, you must identify the best time to make a business phone call and then train your agents and employees to follow professional and considerate business telephone etiquette.

What is the Best Time to Make a Sales Call?

Picking the best time to make a sales phone call depends on a variety of factors. These factors revolve around who your core and target demographic is and what their daily schedules are like:

  • Do they work 9-5 jobs?
  • Are they parents who will be busy taking care of their children before 9 AM and after 5 PM?
  • Are they students who have classes at various times of the day?

Determining your customers’ schedules can help you identify the best times to call them regarding a past or present purchase. Not only should you call at the appropriate time, but you should also maintain professional business phone etiquette. By practicing professionalism and respect for your clients’ time, you will increase the chances of developing good relationships and more conversions.

Best Days of the Week to Make Sales Calls

According to a recent study on the best times to cold call businesses, Wednesdays and Thursdays were identified as the best days of the week to call potential clients and customers. On Mondays, buyers and clients are easing into work mode and preparing for their upcoming week. Similarly, on Fridays, people are generally already in weekend mode and not looking for new business opportunities. Cold calls and unscheduled calls during this time are often sources of frustration and can lead to immediate rejection.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays — the middle of the week — individuals have settled into the workweek and are prepared for all kinds of business. During this time, your call will feel less like an interruption. As such, calls made on Wednesdays and Thursdays have a higher rate of translating into actual conversions.

Best Time of Day to Make a Business Phone Call

When calling customers and prospects, you have to be respectful of their time. Most telemarketers and salespeople fail to connect with their clients by calling them at the wrong time and proceeding to take up a lot of their time. So, what is the best time to make a business phone call?

The best time to make business calls is between 4 PM and 5 PM. Clients and potential buyers are getting done with their work around this time and have the mental capacity to consider your business or proposal. Avoid making calls early in the morning or when buyers are just getting settled into their workday. So, how early can you make a business call? The second best time for business calls is between 11 AM and 12 PM.

Also keep in mind, what time during the day your business will not have as much success cold calling. As a general rule of thumb, avoid making calls between 1 PM and 3 PM. This is the time most people take lunch and are least productive. Therefore, you may not get an ideal response. Furthermore, do not call clients after 6 PM, unless they give you permission to do so. You will only frustrate them during their free time and lose their business.

Other Sales Call Etiquette or Habits to Keep in Mind

As you can see, the recommendations for the best day and time to cold call clients take into account their schedules so you are not bothering them during peak hours. Following this thread, your team should also practice other healthy cold calling habits to maintain professionalism and improve the way your customers view the business. Here are some good business phone etiquette points and habits to follow:

  1. Always ask if they are available for a conversation; don’t jump right into the sales pitch.
  2. Don’t interrupt your customer; wait for them to finish.
  3. Don’t rush your prospect into making a decision or show frustration at the time they are taking.
  4. Don’t be distracted or eat during business calls; your customer should be your priority.
  5. Ensure there is no noise of conversations happening in the background.
  6. Return calls and follow up as promised.
  7. If you need to keep a customer on hold for a long time, ask to call them back instead of making them wait.
  8. The best time to call a prospect or customer is within an hour of them reaching out to you (via phone calls, emails, query forms, etc).
  9. Don’t call a prospect more than 6 times, if they have denied interaction.
  10. Use a business phone system that has high voice quality to avoid any miscommunication or need for additional callbacks.

Upgrade Your Business Phone System

Global Call Forwarding’s virtual phone systems offer high voice quality and global connectivity for businesses of varying sizes. You can start by purchasing a virtual phone number or porting your existing business number to our service and then building a phone system customized to your communication needs. Call us today at 1 (888) 908 6171 or chat with us online to learn more!

7 Reasons to Get an International 800 Number

An international 800 number can help your business gain more credibility, improve customer satisfaction, and boost overall sales. This article features 7 reasons why you should get international toll free numbers for your business. Read on to learn more.

What Are the Benefits of Getting an International 800 Number?

International 800 numbers — also known as international toll free numbers or ITFNs — are toll free numbers assigned to different countries. Calls made to these numbers are forwarded to representatives in different countries or locations for answering.

Residents and contacts within those countries can call the number for free. While incoming calls to the recipient (your business) are forwarded to your country or another location as desired. Say your UK business has an Australia international 800 number. Australian residents can call this number for free and calls are then automatically routed to your office in the UK.

So, how can 800 numbers benefit your business? Here is a look at the top advantages.

1. Offer Customers a Free Calling Option

With an international 800 number, your international customers and contacts have the option to call your business for free. Being given easy access to connect with a business greatly increases the chances of customer engagement. Whether it is to inquire about a new product, plan a partnership, or receive customer support, individuals will hesitate less when calling a business with a toll free number.

2. Improve Your Company’s Professional Image

800 toll free numbers have a reputation. For years, small businesses and large corporations have used these business numbers to make customer calling simple. Toll free numbers are associated with large and established corporations that care for their customers. And so, getting an 800 number improves your professional image as a business that’s established and customer-focused.

3. Acquire More Credibility

Not only do 800 numbers increase customer engagement, but they also make your business seem more trustworthy and credible. A toll free number makes you more accessible and easily reachable. Customers can rest assured that when they need your business, they can connect with you quickly and without obstacles. This increases credibility and gives your customers confidence in your abilities to meet their needs.

4. Easy Mobility

ITFNs make it possible for you to move anywhere within the country or the world without changing your number. You can have incoming calls forwarded to any number, line, or VoIP phone of your choice. And so, even if you decide to move to a new location, simply change the forwarding specifics and keep your numbers.

5. Gain Local Presence in Different Countries

ITFNs enable you to advertise locally in different countries across the globe. You can, therefore, develop connections with local customers, advertisers, vendors, and other business contacts by creating and maintaining a local presence.

6. Improve International Sales

By advertising locally and entering your business in local directories and other platforms for locations you are trying to expand into, you can increase brand visibility and awareness. Both of these are important when it comes to increasing international sales. Having an 800 number indicates to customers that your business is positioned to do business, offer a service, and it demonstrates your business is local to their area.

7. Offer Global Customer Service

Finally, you can offer global customer service by staying connected and reachable. Good and quick customer service leads to high customer satisfaction rates. And this is the best way to maintain and retain valuable customers, as customers need to know you are available to support their issues and concerns.

Ready to Purchase an 800 Number?

To get international 800 numbers, simply sign up on our website by choosing the country you want to target or offer customer service to. You can add additional numbers later once your service is activated. Furthermore, having an international 800 number is an ideal way to strategically offer communications and customer service. Purchase one today to ensure your international expansion connects with customers in the most efficient, effective ways possible.

SMS is Not Dead: How Businesses Can Leverage SMS Marketing in 2021

No matter who you are, when you hear the familiar ping of your phone letting you know you have a message, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to see who wants to get in touch.

Most of us will stop what we are doing and have a quick look, just to check if the message is something urgent from a friend, family member or client.

This natural human instinct to respond to a notification is why SMS is by no means dead. In fact, it is alive, kicking and essential.

Consider that according to Deloitte’s Mobile Nation report, 89 per cent of Australians own a smartphone. And while there are plenty of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram, SMS capability is pre-loaded on every device.

What’s more, when it comes to using smartphones, research has found that texting is the number one activity, even above using the device for phone calls.

Despite this, most major brands don’t have a mobile marketing strategy. They leave this amazing opportunity on the table; often because they fail to realize how simple and affordable sending automated texts via a bulk SMS platform can be.

Email vs mobile marketing

Sending a bulk SMS to your customers really is as simple as sending an EDM.

And while email open rates can be depressingly low (20 per cent is seen as a great result), studies have shown that texts and bulk send SMS open rates can exceed 90 per cent.

Due to the endless flood of emails received each day, people are increasingly turning off their inbox notifications. This is probably why marketing emails usually sit unopened for over an hour, while mobile marketing messages tend to get noticed in five minutes or less. Click-through rates are higher with texts as well (6 per cent for email vs 36 per cent for SMS).

Switching to mobile marketing and adding an SMS strategy to your campaigns just makes good business sense.

Related: Even more fascinating statistics about SMS marketing from SMSGlobal

Ways to use mobile marketing

With a bulk SMS platform, you can contact your entire database with a major marketing message or send personalized messages based on where your customers are at in their journey.

Here are a dozen awesome ways to integrate SMS to your client communications:

  • Bulk send special offers and limited promotions
  • Automate appointment or event reminders
  • Confirm orders
  • Send package delivery notifications 
  • Send Christmas, birthday or ‘client anniversary’ wishes
  • Bulk send new product updates
  • Share links to helpful content
  • Send customer surveys (you can even send a question with a yes/no answer and request responses)
  • Send competition entry links
  • Issue e-tickets
  • Start personalized conversations
  • Establish simple or complex recurring message functions

The way you use SMS can be tailored to your business and your customers. Get creative and have fun or use a bulk SMS platform as a practical way to support the people who rely on your business.

Related: Offbeat ways businesses use SMS to increase engagement 

How to use mobile marketing

Communicating with your audience using a mobile messaging solution is relatively simple. Once you have created your strategy and identified which customers you want to get in touch with, all you need is a platform designed to integrate SMS messaging with your existing technology. 

For example, if your business uses Salesforce, Zapier, HubSpot, WordPress, BigCommerce or Magento, you can connect it to an SMS platform like SMSGlobal. When a client signs up, makes a purchase or indicates that they would like more information, a text can be scheduled or delivered immediately. 

A good provider that gives value for money will be able to adapt to your existing platforms and will have a ‘built for you’ service, so you and your team don’t have to spend time figuring out how to activate your mobile messaging solution. They will even be able to take on the challenge of creating a bespoke HTTP integration that can work with your business’ unique software. 

SMS is what you make it

If you want the most direct line to your customers, integrate SMS messaging and create a mobile marketing strategy. Thanks to the current technology available, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the messages you send and how you initiate conversations with your clients. 

What is Customer Journey Mapping? (2021)

(Updated on Feb 2021)

As a society, we have always been fascinated with storytelling. We like to know where we started, who we were, and how far we have come. The essence of such storytelling and journey mapping is simple — we want to know how we got where we are. This process of mapping out a story or journey spills into the business world. Businesses pay close attention to their customers’ journeys and how they arrive at a company. This is called customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping: How Does it Work?

Companies develop entire marketing plans around the movements of their customers. Of course, they have to map these movements to ensure their strategy is working. That’s where customer journey mapping can help.

So, what is customer journey mapping? Mapping customer journeys helps businesses tell the story of how their customers travel across their brands. For example, customers may interact with a specific business through their exhibitions, marketplaces, webinars, website, social media, email, chat, etc. These are the different touchpoints that customers may pass through which a customer connects with your brand. Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual strategy of how your customer travels through your business from their perspective. By doing this exercise, you can identify common pain points and strategize ways to improve customer experience.

Tracking your customer’s journey can be a complicated yet powerful process. Such tracking can help map out precisely where your customers are, where your business is excelling, and where improvements are possible.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what customer journey mapping is and how and why you should use it.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Customer Journeys

The vast majority of organizations don’t struggle to gather data. What they do struggle with is understanding the frustrations and personal experiences of their customers. Understanding common customer pain points and their behaviors and expectations is crucial to the success of any business.

Tailoring to Meet Customer Expectations

Small to medium-sized businesses should map out customer journeys to identify ways to improve their service and product. For example, customers currently expect to connect with a company not only by phone calls but through email, live chat, social media, and even text messaging. As such, if your business does not offer omnichannel support, you may be missing out on a huge demographic. Another example is including customization and personalization. Stock emails and scripted messages won’t have the same effect as personalized messages and recommendations based on customer interaction.

Discovering a New Customer Base

Without closely watching customer journeys, you might miss out on key demographics and psychographics. When paying attention to the buyer journey and how certain customers arrive at your business and navigate through to purchase, you might discover a new customer base. Your marketing team can then devise strategies to appeal to this target audience and grow your customer base.

Providing Proactive Customer Service

Lastly, since your team’s priority is to identify and improve customer pain points, your business can take a more proactive approach to solve on-going and new customer issues. You can also identify key touchpoints where customers welcome additional support and interaction. The bottom line is that you can use customer journey mapping to create customer-centric strategies.

customer journey mapping

How to Map Your Customer’s Journey

Customer journey mapping creates a framework that enables organizations to provide a better customer experience. To do this, you must document the customer experience from start to finish and identify potential improvements.

For example, if you own a coffee shop, you’d want to know what brought the customer in (i.e., Stage 1). Did they see an ad on Facebook? Did a friend tell them about your shop? Next, you’d want to know who helped them, who they had contact with, and how that exchange went. Was it pleasant? Then, you’ll want to know what motivated them to make a purchase. Was it the informative content on your website or in your email campaigns? Also, you’ll want to know what they thought of your product (the coffee) and whether or not they’d come back.

Using real-time information supplied by customer feedback is a step above surface-level data. Information and insights gained in these areas and across these touchpoints can help you visualize customer experience better.

Customer journey mapping does this all with the help of visual aids. Most maps are presented as infographics for easier digestion. Dimensions such as touchpoints, goals, and customer feedback are priceless to create an accurate customer journey map.

Tips for Creating Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey mapping should focus on building valuable insights and putting them in quantifiable maps. Identify your key touchpoints and factors that affect buyer journeys for your whole business or specific products.

Some questions to consider when mapping out the buyer journey include:

  • What is the customer thinking or feeling? What is guiding their motivation or action?
  • What is the action?
  • What is their touchpoint with the business? (Examples: social media, paid ads, local directories, email, etc.)
  • What changes can be made to this step to improve customer experience?
  • What steps are needed to make this change?

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Tip #1: Incorporate customer satisfaction measures.

Tip #2: Decide on the behavioral stages and develop data based on each stage.

Tip #3: Customize the journey map to match your audience (stakeholders might want different information than marketing departments, etc.)

Tip #4: Isolate your customers’ goals.

Tip #5: Identify key touchpoints (where do customers interact directly with your company?)

Tip #6: Get specific. Interact with your customers, survey them, and find out precisely when and how they get in touch with your business.

How to Use Customer Journey to Improve Marketing

The goal for any organization using customer journey mapping is to isolate the customer’s goals and perspectives and then use these insights to create a strategic and successful plan. An excellent customer journey map captures your customer’s experience concerning their needs and expectations. It helps you figure out how you stack up and exposes gaping holes in your strategy.

Essentially, they provide profound insight and create actionable steps for your organization. They show positive and negative interactions and help you replace those negative customer experiences with more positive and helpful ones.

By mapping out customer journeys and experiences, you can attempt to provide convenient and personalized service at every crucial touchpoint. Furthermore, you can create more accurate buyer personas for each step of your sales funnel. In short, mapping out customer journeys can support your inbound marketing efforts.

Related: Toll Free Numbers for Marketing Campaigns

Using Customer Journey Mapping to Move Forward

Understanding how your customers interact with your products, service, or business helps your team take actionable steps towards an enhanced customer experience. It gives you the knowledge needed to expand and improve upon what you already offer. Clearly defining your audience, gaining greater insight into the customer lifecycle, and combining this knowledge with your team leads to tremendous business success. Use customer journey maps to ensure customers remain with your brand long-term while building strong client relationships.

6 Ways Customer Service Expectations Have Changed for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way companies conduct business as well as the way customers interact and purchase from these companies. As such, customer service expectations have changed for 2021 with more customers expecting high-quality support, personalized care, multiple communication channels, and more.

Customer Service Expectations in 2021

Customers switched to online shopping in 2020. However, this is not limited to just purchasing but also in terms of having conversations with businesses through video conferencing and emails. Many businesses had to transform their sales pitches and customer support to fit video screens, social media posts, and email marketing. And these businesses had to try harder to improve overall customer experience: from finding the business website online to offering easy customer support options.

So, how have customer service expectations changed since 2020, and what are the most common customer service expectations in 2021? Let’s have a look.

1. Offer Higher-Quality Support

The pandemic led to businesses and their customer support teams finding new ways to connect with customers. However, customer service expectations rose to new heights. According to a 2020 Hiver survey focused on customer support expectations in 2020, 80% of consumers expect better and more empathetic support.

More and more customers are shopping online and expect to continue to do so. This means businesses need to develop their websites and e-commerce platforms to prepare for higher volumes of online traffic and movement. Customers will expect quick responses, easy navigation, and high-quality products. Some ways to improve your customer service include:

  • Updating website content to be more relevant and informative.
  • Create mobile-friendly webpages that load quickly.
  • Convenient online purchasing and order-placing abilities.
  • Better business phone system with advanced features such as call forwarding, routing, cloud IVR systems, call recording, and so on. These features can help with better call management and improve quality assurance.
  • Offering multiple channels of communication such as live chat, email, video conferencing, etc. You may even consider a chatbot for common FAQs and troubleshooting where customers don’t need to get in touch with a rep.

2. More Personalized Care

Customers are also looking for personalized care. Here is where a customer-centric strategy comes into place. Customer experience (CX) is highly significant with respect to business growth. If your customers are unhappy and don’t feel valued, they won’t hesitate to leave.

Personalization or customization means tailoring customer experiences to make them more relevant and useful to their particular situations. This means:

  • Paying attention to their profile and their past purchases and interactions
  • Offering recommendations based on past purchases
  • Understanding their needs and goals
  • Visualizing their goals through customer journey mapping
  • Offering customized solutions

Improving customer service and providing personalized care is as simple as knowing your customer and understanding what they need. Then, making your products and their interaction with it more relevant and personal.

3. More Modes of Contact

Since in-person contact was reduced during the pandemic, businesses had to get creative and find new ways to stay connected with their customers. For many businesses, this meant:

  • Updating website content
  • Creating support and knowledge bases for self-support
  • Staying active on email, chat, and social media channels
  • Considering automation tools such as chatbots and automated IVR phone systems

And so, customers expect to contact a business through the channel they prefer. The Hiver survey suggests that:
Gen Z customers and millennials prefer email and chat options more than phone conversations.
Baby boomer customers prefer phone conversations over others.

If your business supports all generations of customers, then you need to cater to their preferences and behaviors.

customer service

4. Focus on Empathy

According to a survey conducted by Hiver, 34% of customers state that customer support needs to be more responsive and empathetic. And this does not mean during the pandemic exclusively. Customers expect more empathetic and quick responses as everyone is dealing with a global issue. In fact, research has found that millennials and Gen Z customers are more likely to connect with businesses that offer empathic support.

So what does a more empathetic customer service approach look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Try to see the problem from their perspective.
  • Allow them to express themselves and their concerns and frustrations without interrupting.
  • Pay attention to your own biases and actively work on them.
  • Maintain positivity.
  • Respect your customer and don’t treat them like another number.
  • Gather and learn from feedback (peers, customers, mentors).

Striving to be more empathetic in your customer interactions can help you develop strong relationships and find better ways to help them. This, in turn, leads to greater customer satisfaction.

5. Pay Attention and Understand Them Better

Similar to the need for empathy, customers expect to be paid attention to, listened to, and cared for. Customers know what all businesses do to track their preferences and capitalize on them — such as targeted ads, personal recommendations, and so on. As such, they expect that businesses have the information to know what they like, prefer, and need. And so, when businesses don’t, customers are typically left disappointed and frustrated.

So, what can you do to work better with your customer? Listen to them carefully and do not make their issue seem small or irrelevant. The Hiver survey found out that 23% of customers will claim good customer support if they don’t have to explain their issue over and over again. Don’t make them repeat their concerns and issues or transfer them to multiple reps and employees.

Paying attention to them and repeating their concerns to confirm them can go a long way in reducing customers’ frustrations and increasing appreciation.

6. Be Clear and Follow-Up

Lastly, be clear in your communication and avoid vague and confusing phrases. Customers appreciate clear communication without any hidden agendas. This is one of the top customer service expectations. They expect honesty and clarity. If, as a customer service rep, you do not know the answer to a query, tell them that you will follow-up. And make sure you follow-up soon.

Meet Customer Service Expectations with Virtual Communication

We, at Global Call Forwarding, can get you set up with a robust virtual phone system that can help you become more accessible to customers, no matter the location. Call us today at 1 (888) 908 6171 to find out more about international call forwarding and other communication tools.

NANP: The North American Numbering Plan Explained

Need to get a phone number within the NANP plan but don’t know anything about the plan? Here is everything you need to know about the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), dialing codes, phone number formats, and more.

What is the North American Numbering Plan (NANP)?

The North American Numbering Plan — also known as the NANP — is a telephone numbering plan that serves 20 North American countries (listed below). The NANP region mainly covers the US and its territories, Canada, and some Caribbean countries.

The participating countries share numbering resources among themselves. The NANP was developed in 1947 by AT&T and implemented in 1951. The purpose was to simplify and facilitate easy direct international calling.

Format of NANP Phone Numbers

NANP phone numbers are assigned the country code (1) by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). NANP numbers are ten-digits long. This includes a three-digit Numbering Plan Area (NPA) code — an area code followed by a seven-digit local number or subscriber number. The format is usually represented as: +1 NXX-NXX-XXXX.

Which Countries are Included in the NANP?

  • Anguilla: 264
  • Antigua & Barbuda: 268
  • Bahamas (the): 242
  • Barbados: 246
  • Bermuda: 441
  • British Virgin Islands (the): 284
  • Canada: multiple local area codes
  • Cayman Islands (the): 345
  • Dominica: 767
  • Dominican Republic (the): 809/829/849
  • Grenada: 473
  • Jamaica: 876/658
  • Montserrat: 664
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: 869
  • Saint Lucia: 758
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: 784
  • Sint Maarten: 721
  • Trinidad and Tobago: 868
  • Turks & Caicos: 649
  • United States of America: multiple local area codes
  • US Territories:
  • American Samoa: 684
  • Guam: 671
  • Northern Mariana Islands: 670
  • Puerto Rico: 787/939
  • US Virgin Islands: 340

Additional Facts about the North American Numbering Plan

Dialing between two NANP countries is quick and easy. Users simply dial the country dialing code, followed by the NPA area code, and a 7-digit local number. For example, when calling from the US to Barbados, users will dial +1 (246) xxx-xxxx.

Even though all numbers within the NANP share the same numbering plan and resources, calls made between NANP countries are not considered domestic calls. They are considered international calls and are charged international or long-distance calling rates. Fortunately, these rates are not much higher than domestic rates.

To call a NANP country from outside the NAN plan, users need to dial their exit codes, trunk prefix (1), and the national subscriber number (NSN). The format is:
(exit code) 1 (area code) xxx-xxxx.

For example, someone calling from France to Jamaica would dial the exit code (00), trunk prefix (1), Jamaica’s area code (876), and the subscriber number (xxx-xxxx):
00 1 876 xxx-xxxx.

Learn More About NANP

You can learn more about the North American Numbering Plans by visiting our homepage. We provide international phone numbers from countries participating within the North American Numbering Plan. Find your new NANP phone number by browsing through our website or receive assistance by contacting our sales team.

Your Complete Guide to Call Center Offshoring & BPO

What are the advantages of outsourcing your communication-needs? Do the advantages outweigh the cons? Learn everything you need to know about call center offshoring & BPO services.

Call Center Offshoring & BPO Explained

Businesses can save money by outsourcing their business processes to an offshore call center. Call center offshoring and business process outsourcing (BPO) can help you delegate certain sales and customer service duties.

Why Do Businesses Outsource Process?

From large enterprises to small businesses, companies across the board have outsourced (some, if not all) of their services to BPOs. And the main reason for this is to reduce costs.

How Does an Offshore Call Center Work?

An offshore call center takes on some of a business’ processes such as customer service, lead generation, technical support, and human resource management. As such, they work to bring on new clients and retain existing ones.

These call centers are well-equipped to handle customer inquiries and concerns. And they have the most advanced virtual call center software and tools that support call management, performance monitoring, data security, and more.

What Services Does a Call Center BPO Offer?

Businesses in almost every industry are outsourcing various processes to offshore call centers. These industries include business services, healthcare, retail, e-commerce, telecom, banking, and more. The plethora of services covered by offshore call centers have, in fact, led to subspecialties such as:

  • Customer service & lead generation — Which focuses primarily on generating sales for a business and offering customer support services. As part of the lead generation process, agents contact prospects and leads on a predetermined list provided by the business. Some BPOs may even help with the creation of lead lists through market research. As part of the customer support service, agents answer calls made to business-clients and offer troubleshooting help, resolutions, and more.
  • Customer interaction — Oversees a company’s communication channels such as email, phone conversations, voicemail, and social media; appointment-setting and scheduling services; marketing and telemarketing services; order and payment processing; customer support and customer success; customer feedback, and more.
  • Travel & tourism — Focuses on offering support and itinerary-planning services to travelers. Works with local and international tourism companies for deals and promotions.
  • Financial services — Focuses on finance and banking-related services such as payment processing; activation of services; collection; billing and counting services; general accounting; auditing, and more.
  • IT and software-focused — Offers technical support; technology-related troubleshooting; offshore software product development; implementation services; IT helpdesk, and more.

Pros & Cons of Call Center Offshoring

So, should your business take advantage of call center offshoring & BPO services? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of using an outsourcing service.

Pros of Using a Call Center BPO

1. Lower communication-related costs

Sending your business processes offshore can help reduce or eliminate costs related to business communication or running a call center. Since you do not need a comprehensive team of sales agents and customer service reps and managers, you can save on hiring costs as well.

2. Lower staffing issues

Your BPO will be responsible for hiring, training, and managing agents and reps. You won’t have to worry about conducting performance analysis or scheduling agents or even managing call center agents. This can save you time and money.

3. Better call management

Offshore call centers come equipped with advanced call center software and tools. This ranges from call management features to call recording and analytics. With these services, you can often get better customer support and learn how to appease customers better. Additionally, you can handle high call volumes or high periods of call traffic by outsourcing to your BPO from time to time.

4. Better business continuity

Virtual call centers can have multiple geographic locations spread across the globe. This can help your business offer 24/7 customer support in regional languages and time zones.

Cons of Call Center Offshoring & BPO

1. Lack of company knowledge

When you outsource business needs, not every agent may be thoroughly schooled in your company’s mission, values, and product education. As such, they may not be able to provide the level or standard of service your business promises.

2. Less control over business functions

When outsourcing, you give control of basic and core services to agents and employees you have not worked with. Additionally, it may be hard to track and monitor each agent representing your business for quality assurance.

3. Decreased customer satisfaction

Usually, agents and reps from a BPO don’t offer the same personalized service as your business would. Customers realizing this may be less satisfied with the service they have received and may seek better service elsewhere.

Is Call Center Offshoring Right for You?

Depending on the size and needs of your business, a combination of onshore call center and offshore call center services may be a better choice. This way, you still have control over your own call center. Additionally, you can take advantage of virtual call center software to utilize the same tools and features that call centers use. And you will have the back-up support of offshore centers as well. To learn more, speak with our experts at 1 (888) 908 6171.