Do you feel like your company fields more calls from solicitors than actual customers throughout the day? Do your team members get battered with unwanted sales pitches and scammers when they’re trying to do their work? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you’re not alone. Despite the rise of the internet, the phone continues to be the device of choice for unwanted communication, and it drives small businesses nuts. Follow these steps if you’re ready to cut back on solicitations.
Teach Employees to Ignore Unexpected Calls
Image via Flickr by David Robert Wright
This advice is more relevant to some departments than others. Your sales team might need to answer any call that comes through in hopes of reaching a potential customer, but other departments should know when to answer a call and when to avoid one. For example, most calls from 800 or 888 numbers should be screened to see if the caller leaves a message.
Picking up the call is the first step to inviting solicitors and scammers in. Oftentimes people report getting a call with no one on the other line except for a click. This isn’t a call at all, but a test to see if you’re willing to pick up an unknown number. If you do pick up, the number is sold to countless other telemarketers. By ignoring questionable calls, you’re reducing the amount of times your number is passed around the web.
Keep Your Number Private or Unknown
If you do find yourself making calls to a company that is likely to take your number and solicit you with unwanted sales pitches, take steps to avoid giving it to them in the first place. Call them from a co-working space or a public phone in a hotel or library so they don’t get your personal number.
If you want to call them from your smartphone, block your number to prevent caller ID. T-Mobile created a guide for doing this on most smartphones. By knowing about caller ID and how you can block a number, you can limit the power organizations have to call you back.
Hire a Receptionist to Field Office Calls
Receptionists aren’t just for large companies with multiple offices and floors; they can be exceptionally useful for limiting solicitors. Instead of assigning a new number to each of your employees, stick with one number and issue extensions. Most solicitors don’t know the extension and will try to go through the receptionist, who will shut them down. They will either prevent a call from going through entirely or take a message and pass it on. If you give the red light to a particular caller, the receptionist will ensure they don’t get through again.
Receptionists are also helpful for in-person solicitations, which are rarer than phone calls, but equally as frustrating. When your receptionist stops solicitors in the lobby, you never have to worry about unwanted and unexpected visitors trying to sell you something you don’t need.
Train Your Team on Reverse-Lookup Tools
There are multiple tools on the internet that allow people to look up the phone numbers of callers before answering — or review them after they called. ReversePhoneLookup.com, Spy Dialer, and ZLookup are just a few options. Consider telling your staff about these sites so they can learn how to research a suspicious number before calling it back. Other people leave comments about what the caller wanted and if they’re a scam, which can save time and aggravation for employees who are unsure about who is calling them.
You should also host a training seminar on the importance of reporting suspicious numbers to the Federal Trade Commission and registering for the Do Not Call List. While the FTC is unable to respond to every complaint it receives, it is able to stop numbers that have been reported multiple times. Every report helps.
Phone solicitors will never truly go away as long as people keep answering unknown numbers. By following these steps and training your team, you can reduce the number of solicitations and scams that come through. This will make your office a more peaceful and productive place to work.