Only if it gets them a phone call. Why? Because the majority of SMBs will never have a website with a shopping cart. Not because they’re behind the times, but because they aren’t selling things that can go in a shopping cart. Think about plumbers, lawyers and chiropractors. Now, think about that phone call.

Twenty years ago, when you needed a plumber, let’s say in Chicago, you looked in the Yellow Pages. The number of listings was manageable and they were all local. You picked one, called and spoke with a human being. You made the deal at the moment when you wanted a plumber. The Yellow Pages were designed for making phone calls. Google isn’t.

Googling “plumbers Chicago,” returns an overwhelming mess of listings, including some for Tucson plumbers with “Chicago” somewhere on their website. You can only see one page at a time, making it hard to compare or return to a prior listing that seemed interesting. If you do settle on one, you’ll probably have to navigate through the website for a phone number. And when you finally call, it’s likely you have to navigate another menu. In the meantime, your wife got the neighbor to fix the toilet and one Chicago plumber missed a job.

It’s simple human nature. We buy from people we feel connected to. Just browsing a web site we don’t feel connected. Even using a pop-up text chat box, we don’t feel connected. However, talking on the telephone we feel connected. The more human contact we have with a business the more likely we will buy their product or service. Googling “plumbers” is about as impersonal as you can get. The personal relationship is what drives sales more than any other factor. In fact, 75 percent of sales are closed in person and on phone calls, against an anemically small segment for Web site, e-mail, and chat orders, all of which create instant distance between seller and buyer.


It’s not magic: the more callers, the more business.

Adding click-to-call to a website brings back the Yellow Pages Effect, bypassing that sales-chilling period of time between needing something and calling to order it. Click-to-call marries the intimacy and immediacy of the phone to the flexibility of the Web so business can have the power of both.

If click-to-call is so valuable, why aren’t more SMBs using it? The answer until recently was cost.

Just a few of years ago, click-to-call was only available with costly interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Costing thousands of dollars and requiring highly specialized technicians, complex custom programming, and costly infrastructure upgrades, IVR systems were out of reach for all but the largest companies.

Today, the model of delivering business applications and services over the Internet, SaaS (Software as a Service) and mature VoIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol) can bring advanced IVR capabilities to any business with a website. It’s Communications as a Service and, if you think about it, it’s what the phone company has been doing for over a century. In this model, service providers invest in the infrastructure and specialized skills ( shielding customers from the underlying complexity. All customers need to know is how to use the phone and a browser. Payment is as-you-go ( the same as your home phone.

And now that it’s simple and affordable, the benefits are huge. Click-to-call gives businesses a measurable market advantage, according to industry analyst iMedia Connection*:

  • A 22 to 25 percent reduction in website abandonment from website pages with click-to-call services
  • As much as a 100 percent increase in transaction conversions from click-to-call users versus toll-free callers
  • 88 percent of click-to-call users say they are more likely to contact a company that offers a click-to-call service than one that does not.

Not only does click-to-call make it easier for customers to call while the impulse to buy is hot, it also makes sure their calls are answered and directed to the right place.

For example, a car dealer can route callers needing repairs to the service department and callers inquiring about fleet purchases to the sales department. You can also integrate click-to-call into email campaigns. However you use click-to-call, you always know exactly where a call is coming from. The bottom line: People buy from people. Even more so, from people they know. Thus phone calls build the relationships that build sales. And while Google is surely here to stay, click-to-call will make it better by connecting the SMB to their prospects the old fashioned way. By phone. Just like the Yellow Pages did.

Irv Shapiro

CEO

Ifbyphone, Inc.

*http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/8524.asp