Giving It All Away For Free And My Phone Number

24 replies
It always amazes me why people don't like putting their direct contact details on their website. I find it hard to understand why they think people who they've never met before will purchase a product or service from them when their only way of contacting them is by email (I've even seen websites without an email address, can you believe that!) Or the dreaded "Help Desk" (theirs a contradiction in it's self!) If you read my recent post "It's Payback Time for the Bus Driver" you'll see that I'm happy to personally take your phone calls and help in anyway I can with your Internet business.

I have absolutely no problem having my direct phone number on my websites and actively encourage potential and existing customers to call and talk to me. I always find it amusing when people call after watching my video and are gob smacked when I actually pick up the phone. Their first reaction is, they can't believe it's not some call answering service and then they are even more surprised it's me that personally answers it. I've certainly got no reason to "Hide" behind my website and also by actually talking with my customers gives me great feed back as to how well I'm running my business and what my customers want and expect from me. After all, if you were running a bricks-and-mortar business would you not want your customers to come in and talk to you and perhaps ask you some questions about the product or service you're offering? So don't you think your on-line customers deserve the same courtesy?


I have been successfully trading on-line for some 8 years now and I KNOW that the large part of my success has come through people knowing they can pick up the phone and talk to a real person. How do I know that? Guess what, they called and told me!

So come on guy's, start giving your customers an easy and direct way of contacting you, their not some alien beings you have to protect and defend your self against, their just people that usually want to spend their hard earned money with you but perhaps just need that touch of reassurance before they give you their credit card number.

Or, perhaps it's me that's got it all wrong and we should all "Hide" behind some web address. I'm sure you'll let me know.

Craig Richards (aka MrX)
#free #giving #mentor or coach #number #phone
  • Profile picture of the author CmdrStidd
    Craig,

    While that has worked out well for you in the past, it is actually a very dangerous practice. With that information that you include on your site, do you know that Identity thieves can farm the rest of your information and then all your hard work in your business stops because restoring your identity becomes your new 24/7 job for as much as 6 months to a year after it happens. The FBI CyberCrimes division warns people about using their personal information on any websites. That is why if I see that someone is asking for anything more than my first name and e-mail address, I don't respond. I don't care if they are offering to give me $10,000 to start off with. The risks are just too great any more.
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    • Profile picture of the author sladezer0
      Originally Posted by CmdrStidd View Post

      Craig,

      While that has worked out well for you in the past, it is actually a very dangerous practice. With that information that you include on your site, do you know that Identity thieves can farm the rest of your information and then all your hard work in your business stops because restoring your identity becomes your new 24/7 job for as much as 6 months to a year after it happens. The FBI CyberCrimes division warns people about using their personal information on any websites. That is why if I see that someone is asking for anything more than my first name and e-mail address, I don't respond. I don't care if they are offering to give me $10,000 to start off with. The risks are just too great any more.
      True, everything comes with some risks. I'm sure you have much higher risks of being hit by a car while driving then actually getting your identity stolen by giving out your phone number, but does that stop you from driving? For some, it does. For others it won't.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Mount
    I don't mind giving out my phone number or skype name if someone contacts me via email FIRST.

    I will not just put out my phone number on my websites just to make people feel better. Besides, my wife would kill me.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Killian
    I agree, it sure could build credibility and close more sales, but as CmdrStidd mentioned, it can be a big dangerous. I know I get some cranky customers, sure don't want them calling me to vent. Plus will all the weirdo's out there, scary to me. Guess if you had a number that was not really attached to your personal info, like a toll free number, ect.

    I am one of those that have the dreaded help desk, but only because e-mail is not 100% and I do reply to every support desk request, so not all helps desks as bad, though I know what your talking about.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sandor Verebi
      I'm second with Ron's opinion. I also know from my experience that if I give my phone number away, then dangers entailing with it surpass the surplus which can be achieved in selling.

      Formerly I did give my number in 2007 and received many non related offers from Viagra to others. There was a time when someone called me at 02.30 AM again and again for a month. My family and I do not wish this kind of conversations anymore.

      So I give my email and my business mail address only and yes I also use a helpdesk system. This is 3 opportunities for a customer who want to reach me. And it works for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author Star69
    Couldn't a person get a cell phone number that has no connection to their own personal info, such as through a friend?

    I agree that making yourself more available, more 'human' to your customers is a good thing (I was certainly impressed when I called Jeff Mulligan and he actually answered the phone!), but the risks associated with it, as mentioned above, must be considered.

    If you think long enough, I'm sure you'll find a way to accomplish this safely.

    Problems are solutions waiting to be discovered.
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  • Profile picture of the author valerieSONORA
    I would never put my phone number on a public website cause any crazy or psycho or prankster could call and bother me. I don't care if everyone else in the world did that, I would never do that. I would only do that if I had a business phone number which I don't. Skype is another alternative. That's probably the best thing to do is give your skype info. But everyone who doesn't have skype wouldn't be able to contact you.
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  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
    I don't know about anyone else, but I got into IM because I didn't want to have to talk to people on the phone.
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    Gone Fishing
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  • Profile picture of the author CmdrStidd
    I think Cashcow may have just hit on the solution. If you put an IM type of contact on the website then you could respond to customers that way and you could keep all your personal information separate. I know of a couple of companies that have AIM accounts and the best part is, they have hired someone to man those accounts all day long. (This is done in shifts, of course)
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  • Profile picture of the author IMChick
    This is simply a question of internet security.

    Crazy dangerous to let it all hang out all over the web. Get a business name, skpye with voice mail or a message phone system that does not ring in your personal residence if you insist on being a he-man and listing a personal contact number in your website. This, to me, is like not buying the who-is guard protection & getting on every list in the world as an easy mark. Crazy. Unnecessary.

    And remember, that the biggest companies, IM groups included, do not do personal phone numbers with a direct route to the big guy in the corner office.

    You will begin to understand how to insulate yourself and put a security layer between you the person and you the business owner as your business grows. In addition, the decision makers all over the world are NOT the ones fielding the switchboard and incoming cold-calls. To set yourself up to waste time like this is not always the best alternative.

    Be careful.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
      Originally Posted by IMChick View Post

      Get a business name, skpye with voice mail or a message phone system that does not ring in your personal residence...
      IMChick sort of beat me to it.

      Don't you guys know about business lines? Business p.o. boxes? Suites? Outsourced business call centers? Answering centers? Business License? Fax Machines?...

      You can only make so much money sitting in your basement in your underwear.

      Unless you're Jeff Paul.
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      • Profile picture of the author mike_h58
        Second on Matthew's advice...

        Originally Posted by Matthew Maiden View Post

        IMChick sort of beat me to it.

        Don't you guys know about business lines? Business p.o. boxes? Suites? Outsourced business call centers? Answering centers? Business License? Fax Machines?...

        You can only make so much money sitting in your basement in your underwear.

        Unless you're Jeff Paul.
        Follow it... and you could even find some time to sleep.

        Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author jasonl70
    I've thought of using a prepaid mobile phone for this in the past, but I came to my senses..
    I've had people buy something from me at 1 am, and by the time I woke up and logged on at around 9am they've flooded me with emails - each one getting more angry that I was ignoring them! And this was for a collection of javascript's that I sold on ebay for 1 penny!
    I learned the hard way - no way am I giving out my phone number...
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    • Profile picture of the author George Benson
      While I can understand the paranoia of people not wanting to have identity theft result from leaving a phone number -- I'm kind of surprised that so many people are unaware of the easy solutions that allow you to insulate yourself from this kind of problem while retaining the considerable advantage of voice interaction.

      1. Get an account with Vonage or other VOIP provider that has the features Vonage offers. This allows you to cheaply have a number that is untraceable to you because the VOIP provider owns the number -- not you.

      2. You can add virtually unlimited alias numbers for about 5.00 a month each (which is peanuts) and also allow you to add and/or switch numbers just by calling the provider -- should you have a troublesome caller that won't stop. I've never had this happen but it is possible however unlikely. Use this as your internet number and you'll know that any calls to it are from your web site(s). You can change the number status from answer to immediate voice mail so there is no ringing of your phone after hours. If you want a live person to answer you can always forward to an answering service which costs very little to add. If you use voice mail it is important to state your business hours.

      3. As for dealing with irate customers the first question I'd want to know the answer to is "why is my customer irate?" Personally I really appreciate it if an upset customer calls me. They are giving me a chance to fix something they believe is my fault or that I can fix and thereby be an asset to them. Talking to them (well really listening to them) gives me a chance to find out what is bothering them and fix it. There is seldom a more valuable business relationship than one that got tense but was resolved. Very few people are senselessly unreasonable -- and the very few that are -- just give them a refund and they go away. It is seldom worth it to keep the money of someone who is determined to be unreasonable. In the end most upset customers are worth investing some time and understanding into because those are the few that will alert us to problems we really could or should fix.

      4. I've bought more stuff through online relationships than most people make and I never buy items worth more than a couple hundred dollars without being able to reach someone on the telephone. There are several internet marketing gurus whom I've called to ask a question or discuss something and they insist on emailing me back. Why do they think I called them? Do they think I can't use email and that they need to show me that I should use email? Frankly I don't know their reasons -- but I have the money to spend and I spend it on companies I can talk to. I think that is probably true of most people in my demographic. Those who can afford to buy any or all of your products probably know the largest number of others who would also buy your stuff if you treat them right.

      5. Another solution is an answering service. They are cheap. They take the call, put the person on hold, they tell you who is calling and what it is regarding. You decide whether to speak to them or take a message. Even those you speak to have no idea who the number belongs to nor can they find out if you get the number through the answering service or through a VOIP number that you forward to the answering service.

      In summary it is probably a great idea to talk to people until you get so busy you have to hire people to take those calls. People who find you online and take the time to call are generally qualified buyers who only need an unusual question answered before making the purchase. The majority are ready to buy now. If they can't call you to discuss they usually don't buy. You'll learn a lot you'd never learn from email and you'll typically develop a better quality of relationship with the big ticket crowd. Personally I see no downside if you do it right.

      Learning how to handle irate customers is an important skill. If someone flooded me with angry emails I'd refund their purchase (even if it was a penny). I'd apologize for causing them so much grief, state that my product was clearly not for them, and tell them the best way for them never to be upset with my company again is not to do business in the future. "Thanks for giving us a try". then I'd block their email and I'd send any future calls from them to voice mail. A small price to pay for the distinct advantages of talking to people.

      George.
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  • Profile picture of the author Craig Fenton
    Hi Craig:

    Hope all is well tonight. I respect your ability to do business the old fashioned way and be available for the customer.

    To have the best of both worlds (excellent client relations) and personal safety can you please check to see how it is best recommended for a resident of the United Kingdom to keep as much info personal as possible.

    What I mean is if your name is Craig Richards could you have a phone number that does not trace back to your residence? Could you set up an account under a different name or a corporation? Would you have better protection with a special toll free service or a cellular phone? Regardless on the solution it is never disrespectful if you post specific hours that you are available to take calls.

    Please keep your family safe first and than see if you can continue to afford such great customer service!

    Have a great night.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ashley Wright
    Personally I would give out my skype Id first then if people want or needing to speak to me via phone I will usually ring them, advertising your no. does like everything have its ups & downs
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  • My safety is more important than my sales... =(

    And I think that there are other ways to prove your trustworthiness, other than giving out your phone number. Such as... umm...
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  • Profile picture of the author laurelwachtel
    I agree that it could build credibility and get your more quality sales in the long run, but it can be a big dangerous. Security for your business would be paramount. If you display your trustworthy aspects to your customers in other forms such as offering free advice and products, I think this helps your business more than giving out your personal contact details. If you're efficient and polite to your customers, they will repay that trust by showing an interest in your business.
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  • Profile picture of the author CmdrStidd
    George Benson,

    I do respect several of your comments but I do need to correct you on one thing. You state that VOIP services allow you to have a number that cannot be back traced to you since they own the number, however that is not correct. Your number can still be backtraced to you because of the fact that your name and number still shows up on caller ID which is itself a backtrace of the number. Also, I had a VOIP number and I listed it on my storefront website for 2 years. Then suddenly I was having Homeland Security raiding my house and I spent 3 months in jail. It was then discovered that I had been the victom of identity theft. Homeland Security informed me that they traced the ID theft back to someone backtracing my phone number. A phone number that you say is not able to be backtraced. It has taken just over a year and I am still battling to clean up some of the residual damage that the thieves have done.

    As far as suggesting answering centers and multiple lines and things like that, you need to remember that not everyone on this forum is making big money yet. In fact, not one suggestion you have given would work for someone just getting started who did not have 2 nickles to rub together. So, while you might consider the cost of an answering service to screen your calls a drop in the bucket, I for one cannot justify spending that when I have yet to make my 50th sale grand total. You seem to have forgotten your audience here, which is the first cardinal sin of writing.
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    • Profile picture of the author spider222
      Ok I found this thread interesting. First off, CmdrStidd's reply was just horrific. Oh my - dude. 3 months in jail! And once again...dude.

      I use a magicjack for my "business" line. It works great - gives me free long distance, and I can choose the phone number - as in the area code, etc. I use an area code that is not even near my address. To my knowledge, this cannot be traced back to me personally from anyone out in the world unless they obtained the info from MagicJack - which would be impossible to do I presume unless it was due to a legal issue.

      So, wouldn't this work for anyone wanting to post a number on their website? Not only is it safe, you can pack it around with you whenever you go anywhere - just plug it into the usb - and voila - you have a "business" line.

      Not only that, but you could have more than one MagicJack - at only $40 each (with one year free long distance included), you really can't beat the price.

      That's just my thoughts though.

      Anthony
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  • Profile picture of the author Chuck Evans
    I have no problems with giving my students my direct line and contact info. We also use a toll free number that anyone can call for product, to get in touch with me or any of the staff. If someone calls for me they take a message and then let me know and I always call the person back.

    Having irate or difficult customers is just a part of doing business and they don't go away by simply ignoring them!

    Not allowing people to be able to contact you it is like hiding behind a mask - buy my product, give me your money, BUT you can't call me or know anything about me! Trust me though, I'm legit!

    chuck
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  • Profile picture of the author 1bad55
    I personally do not want my personal information out there for anyone to help themselves to for any reason. If it means I lose a sale or two so be it. It can take months and even years to repair identity theift and I am not willing to take that risk.
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  • Profile picture of the author JLRuffin
    Very good advice. There is nothing better than a personal touch when there are so many shy larks out there.
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