It’s 4am. You’re tucked up in bed and sound asleep. And then your mobile rings.
It’s a number you don’t recognise, an overseas number, so you ignore it.
But it rings again.
You look at the number again.
Hang on, that’s a US dial code. Isn’t your little brother still backpacking across America? Could this be a sibling emergency? Either way, sleep is well and truly off the cards by now: you crack and take the call.
Yeah, it’s not your little brother. It is not an emergency. It’s a query from a potential overseas client with a ton of questions that you’re really not equipped to answer in your bleary-eyed, slurry-speeched, pre-dawn state.
But what are you supposed to say? “It’s 4am here in the UK and you’re calling me on my personal mobile?” After all, you put that number on your website in the first place. You made that your work contact. You’re trying to attract an international client base. Do you really want to kick off a relationship with a promising lead by chastising them for screwing up on their time-zone calculations?
Disaster waiting to happen?
There’s no beating around the bush on this one. Using the same number for home and work is a disaster waiting to happen.
In theory, the idea of being always on and always reachable to clients sounds great. I get it: you’re a dedicated workaholic. You don’t want to miss a single opportunity. But it’s unreasonable to think that there aren’t times when you really can’t, or shouldn’t try, to take a call from a client.
When you’re asleep at 4am on a Tuesday is one of those times. When you’re pushing through the noise and chaos of rush hour crowds at Victoria station is another. When you’re waiting to start a meeting with a competitor might be a third.
The fact is, you need a good way of knowing whether the call that’s coming through to your personal device right now will be an appropriate conversation to have right now.
And you can only do that if you have a professional, reliable screening process in place.
Improve productivity by routing your business calls anywhere.
You’re probably aware that one of the benefits of having a hosted PBX system in place in your organisation is that employees have the option to pick up their work calls wherever they are. They can work from home, they can have calls forwarded to their mobiles – they can make themselves available remotely, whenever necessary.
But this is totally different to just giving out work mobile numbers to clients. Or setting up automatic, indiscriminate call forwarding every time they leave the office.
It means your organisation continues to handle incoming queries and make an informed judgment about whether calls are best handled by a colleague in the organisation.
How consistency inspires confidence.
That customers and colleagues have a consistent experience no matter who or when they call that inspires confidence in your business.
That you can set up systems that control which types of calls can come through to you on your mobile at which times of day.
You can ensure that the calls you can’t answer reach a suitably professional-sounding voicemail system – one that you can organise and back up to avoid losing essential information.
You can keep track of data about call lengths and times, and use the same tools you have in the office to transfer calls to a colleague or put a caller on hold as you need.
And, crucially, you can tell quickly and easily which calls are coming through from your work and which ones are coming direct to your mobile.
No more lost sales because you don’t recognise the incoming number.
Which in turn means that you’re far less likely to find yourself in the awkward position where you don’t want to turn down a call from an unfamiliar number that you think might be highly important, but could also be a nuisance call. Especially when you’re around clients or senior colleagues and want to present the most professional image possible.
And professional image is, of course, one of the first things that goes out of the window when you start using your mobile number as standard.
Why your primary contact number shouldn’t be your mobile number.
Because openly displaying a mobile number on your website says three things to your clients.
It says that you are a small operation, winging your tech and working off your own devices.
It says that your time isn’t that important or in demand – you’re happy for absolutely anyone to be able to track you down and reach out directly.
And it says that you are always going to be available to that client, whenever they want to talk to you. Which, in theory, sounds like a plus, but in reality undermines their respect for your time and professionalism.
Exchanging mobile numbers with a client is, after all, a mark of familiarity and confidence – it’s a step you take in a business relationship when you move towards partnering on a project or establishing closer ties.
There’s a right time and place to share your mobile number.
When you give someone a direct line of communication that you can’t switch off, you’re essentially stating that you are now on the same team and that you trust them to use that number appropriately. Sharing it at the right moment makes you look like a pro; splashing it across your website makes you look like an amateur.
… And when you’re dealing with a pitch that can make or break your business, no one wants to look like an amateur.