Despite the economy, analysts expect this holiday season to be brisk for retailers. Here are some simple, inexpensive steps your business can take to ensure maximum revenue this year.

Whether it’s because of the sluggish economy or the falling cost of making products overseas, this year retailers are slashing prices on electronics and other consumer goods for “Black Friday.” Many are offering price cuts on this day only, while online stores such as Amazon are expecting to have another record-setting year on “Cyber Monday,” the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday. turkey

If you sell to consumers and have invested in any kind of advertising this year, chances are that your phones are a primary means of sales or support. Has anyone ever tested your phones during such peak times to see if potential customers receive fast-busy signals or if calls go straight to voicemail? In conjunction with this, online retailers often forget to advertise their telephone availability. Put a call to action in a prominent place on each page of your website during your peak shopping days. A good way to do this is Click-to-Call. This will put an image link on your site to encourage your customers to call you if they have problems or questions. As an added bonus, you can also put it in your e-mail signature. View a demo of this feature.

After hours, how is your business handling calls? Do they go to your standard voicemail or something with a holiday theme? This is a great opportunity to not only wish your customers a Happy Thanksgiving, but to also showcase any special sale that you may have. Perhaps something like this:

“Happy Thanksgiving from Acme Corporation. Our offices are currently closed, but we will open again on Friday, November 27. Did you know that we are having a holiday sale on all anvils through Dec. 5? Press 1 to hear more. If you need to leave a message for sales, press 2. If you need to ask a question about one of our products, press 3. To reach support, press 4. To repeat this menu, press 0.”

It’s always surprised me that while business telephone systems are relied upon to deliver customers, little thought has been put into the ability of such systems to handle incoming calls. Here’s a typical small-business retail situation: eight phones with four phone Lines. Many premise-based PBX systems are designed to have more phones than available phone lines, because the engineers who designed those systems assumed that if one had eight phones, not all phones would be in use at the same time. And because traditional landlines from telephone companies can have considerable installation times and ongoing monthly costs, such were the design parameters of many SMB¬†phone systems.

That works for most of the year – except for the holidays! That’s when a virtual phone system, or “Business Phones as a Service”, can come in as overflow capacity. The firms that provide such services have tens of thousands of extra available phone lines that they can allocate automatically, on an on-demand basis, for small businesses.

Don’t delay, plan to get your holiday presence organized on your phones. It won’t take long and will give a personal touch!

Photo by xybermatthew and Retrothing