This article is sponsored by your friends at Numa
At a recent visit to a nail salon, my technician, who is also the business owner, was interrupted at least three times by incoming calls. When he came back to my station I said “Must be nice — every time you answer the phone, you get a new customer.”
Looking a little exasperated he said “I wish!”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “Aren’t people calling to make appointments?”
Then he told me something astonishing. He told me people will often ask for their address and even after he gives it to them, they show up at competing salon! How often? Almost every other incoming call that comes from either a referral or a new customer asks for an address and still shows up at the wrong salon!
It’s too bad that he wasn’t able to send them a text message with his address so that they show up at the correct salon. While I was at the salon he took three calls and one of those calls was someone who ended up at the wrong salon!
Recently, I learned about Numa, new artificial intelligence (AI) answering service that can help local businesses grab new customers from incoming calls.
Missed Calls Are Missed Sales
If you’re a main street business owner such as a salon, restaurant, landscaper, or service and repair business, every incoming call is a potential sale. You simply can’t afford to miss an incoming call.
According to a recent study by BrightLocal, making a phone call after finding the right business online is the quickest way to get what you need. And yet, small business owners don’t answer 62% of their incoming calls.
But this is easier said than done.
Local Business is at the Intersection of a Rock and a Hard Place
There are nearly 4 million small business owners in the US who aren’t sitting at their desk and answering the phone. They are working.
- 967,000 hair salons
- 1.2 million nail salons
- 106,000 HVAC contractors
- 52,000 appliance repair contractors
- 660,000 independent restaurants (not chains)
- 123,000 small law firms
- 230,187 physicians offices
- 189,000 small dental offices
These business owners find themselves unable to serve customers AND answer incoming calls. And, it’s costing them new customers and increased sales.
Incoming phone calls are 10-15 times more likely to generate a successful sale or follow-up activity than digital form submissions.
If you’re a local business, you can’t be in two places at the same time. You need a way to grab those calls while still serving the customer that’s right in front of you.
What Services Can a Local Business Use To Capture Incoming Calls?
So many business owners are desperate for new customers and spend marketing dollars on generating new leads. But, what good is that if you aren’t able to answer the phone, answer caller’s questions and get them to your business?
Here are some typical options that you can use to capture incoming calls when you can’t answer the phone:
If you can’t afford a full-time receptionist, you might consider outsourcing your incoming calls to a third-party answering service.
But is this a good idea? Like most things, the answer is — it depends.
Lots of local businesses use an answering service. But answering services can be expensive and they often don’t answer the caller’s immediate questions or concerns.
You can forward incoming calls to your mobile device or a team member’s mobile phone. This is an inbound calling option many local businesses choose. Today’s mobile phones make this a cost-effective and easy solution.
The problem, however, is that if the business owner is working with a client or customer, they still can’t answer that call and this becomes a lost opportunity.
Younger generations prefer sending and receiving text messages to calling or talking on the phone. Text messages get read more often. The open rate for SMS is 98% with 90% read within 3 seconds.
This is especially true for local businesses because their text messages are typically wanted and anticipated as they often contain important information the customer wants such as an appointment update or reminder.
While this is a workable solution, it still doesn’t solve the problem of the working business owner who still has to stop their work in order to respond to the text.
Even with these incoming call management options, most local businesses are opting for NOTHING and interpreting their work by answering incoming customer calls.
Grab Inbound Calls and Serve Customers At the Same Time
Wouldn’t it be great to grab those incoming calls AND give the customer you’re working with your undivided attention?
I’ve recently come across a super new tool called Numa.
Numa is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered answering service that makes it possible to take incoming calls from customers while you’re working with another customer.
Here’s how Numa works:
1. Connect Your Phone
Your first step is to connect your phone number to Numa. All you need to do is answer a few questions and within about five minutes, you are all set.
2. Answer questions about your business
There are typical questions that include your business name, how many employees or locations you have. There is also this timely COVID-19 Setup.
At this stage of the setup process, you can customize how you want your phone to be answered.
3. Choose a voice
You get six options of voices to choose from. All of them speak perfect “Midwestern” American. I was really impressed with the overall quality of the voices they used. There’s one for every type of business.
One nice-to-have feature would be to give local businesses the option to record their own message. For sole practitioners, it would be more personal.
4. Choose and customize your script
Numa offers several scripts you can choose from which include customized text messages as well.
When a customer calls your business (or mobile device) they have the choice to either leave a voice mail or text their question.
“Numa has absolutely improved our customer experience,” Courtney said. “Customers find it really easy to use and like that they get fast responses.”— Courtney Brough, Waterman’s Fresh Local Seafood
If the customer leaves a voicemail, the voicemail is transcribed and you can respond when you are free.
But it’s the text feature that I find most helpful.
Numa is set up to automatically reply to common questions such as your hours, location or setting an appointment.
5. Manage your incoming messages
Let’s take a peek at the Numa backend. It’s relatively simple. The default screen is the inbox where you can see all of the calls that have come into the system.
When you click on one of the messages, you’ll see the detailed conversation from that message.
While you can certainly manage these on your own via your mobile device, you can also have a team member respond to these messages via text.
6. Involve your team (if you have one)
Numa is also very team-friendly. You can add team members and assign messages to them. In addition, team members can also “mention” or “tag” each other in a conversation. This is a powerful feature that will make sure that no customer request falls between the cracks.
2 Features That Make Numa a No-Brainer
There are two key features that should make you try Numa just to see if it works for you and your customers:
- 30-Day Free Trial: I don’t often call a free trial a key feature. But if you’re a local business that is getting more than 10 incoming calls a day and constantly being interrupted — Numa can practically pay for itself in these 30 days.
- No Credit Card Required for Trial: This is another feature I LOVE. When I see “no credit card required” this tells me two things; first, that the company is SO confident that this will work for you, that you will probably keep the service and happily provide a credit card. The second thing it tells me is that the company us USER-centered. They understand that their ideal customer doesn’t have the time to track what they’ve signed up for AND they understand that they would be PISSED at being charged for something they didn’t want.
Numa is insanely affordable. At $49 per location, per month, you’ll get a return on your investment with just one or two calls.
For the majority of local businesses, Numa Essentials should do the trick. Inside that package you get:
- Unlimited Messages and Incoming Calls
- AI auto responses
- 1 Numa phone number
- 10 team devices
- 3 Team members
If you have what I’d call a “medium” sized business, you should get the Pro version for $149 per location per month
This package has everything that the Essential package has plus:
- Assignment routing
- Escalation management
- Roles and permissions
- Translation to 100 languages
- Unlimited devices and unlimited teammates.
There is also an enterprise package. Although I’d say that these two packages cover 99% of all small businesses.
Should You Try Numa?
Here’s who I think should get Numa right NOW —
- If you feel guilty for rolling your eyes when a customer call comes in when you’re in the middle of something.
- If you are a solo local business such as a plumber, landscaper, repair service, salon, restaurant, etc who is WORKING and getting customer calls that interrupt your work.
Until now, every missed incoming call was a potentially lost customer and lost revenue. But Numa is an easy, low-cost way for local businesses to actually serve two customers at the same time.