Hello. My name is Shannon Huisman and I hail from the tri-county area of Charleston, South Carolina.
Long ago (in telecommunications measurement) I became interested and then employed in the telephone industry in South Carolina. My father told me stories of how he used the hand crank type of telephone when he was a kid. He related how long distance calls cost more than the time and gas to drive the fifteen miles to the store and talk directly. His next phone service was a real dial telephone but was on a “party line”. If you do a Google search, you will find that this was a cost saving measure where everyone on your party line would hear the ring (each user was different) and could listen in on your conversation similar to your current multiple hardline telephones in your house. You would also have to wait for the “busy-bodies” to stop talking on their phone to use your phone on that party line.
Even without a party line, any long distance telephone call would cost a fortune. Let’s face it. It was an ATT monopoly. Once that was broken up, the players started jumping into the industry. Long distance charges plummeted and then gradually decreased to affordable.
Then we got cellular telephones. This was competition, but the long distance charges remained. From this point, the evolution of telecommunications became a blur. From the hand crank phone of the 1950’s to the unlimited long distance calls on cell phones and VOIP today, we wonder what we will see ten years from now.
This blog is but a snapshot (that is a quite outdated term) of a sample of the use of telecommunications for businesses in South Carolina. Given the acceleration of telecommunication technology, my posts may become dated within the year. However, my posts will provide an archival point for future bloggers.
Thanks for visiting a website that may soon become relative history.
Located in a very up-scale and rapidly growing Mt Pleasant/Charleston area, this businesses such as this are geographically unique. Daniel Island lays in Charleston County. Mount Pleasant is proximate. It was annexed by the City of Charleston. There is no town or city named Daniel Island. Therefore, the business must use all of these geographical areas to identify itself and to communicate effectively using multi-geographical nominclature. There is no official Post Office on Daniel Island, however there is a zip code and there are two local businesses that have a Post Office area dedicated for some services.
The business uses both a given email address using gmail instead of using a domain address. It also uses a form email system to receive incoming email. The phone prefix of 843-971-XXXX is a Mount Pleasant, SC identifier. A FAX number is also provided.
Similar to most medical businesses, they have set up a patient portal to allow interaction without the need of Post Office mailing and some voice/email communication.
Sullivan’s Restaurant in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina follows a trend that we have seen over the last few years – eschewing a live website in favor of using a social media website. In Sullivan’s case, this is done by using Facebook.
For small towns, this approach is not only a good financial decision, but also a good conversion medium. Using existing free social media eliminates the need for buying and renewing a domain, having a website built and maintained, as well as incurring periodic hosting fees. The ubiquitous nature of Facebook ensures that the bulk of both potential and existing customers are familiar with the media and even tend to trust it more due to the personal nature social media imbues.
Business owners need no more than a nominal familiarity with Facebook to create good looking, real-time updates. This capability comes into play at least on a weekly basis as specials change, and seasonally as products change. Another benefit is the profluence Facebook provides for customer review acquisition.
There was no email address evident on the site, however, most people conduct mobile searches and the Facebook page offers a single click to phone and a single click to message.
Sullivan’s evidently endorses an elementary way to position itself in the public awareness while mating with the efficiency of social media.
We are back in one of the country’s fastest growing municipalities, the Town of Mount Pleasant, SC. We decided to look at the dentistry profession. This industry is one of the most competitive and lucrative markets you will find in medium to larger towns. Cities typically have more than enough dentist offices to service the populace and high dollar per visit transactions make each new customer quite valuable.
In order for a dental office to succeed, a solid customer base needs to be maintained. Once established, the loss of customers must be met or exceeded by gains of new dental clients. Most practices have a fresh website, a solid multimedia promotional plan, and great communications to allow this.
We looked at and interviewed Smileworks General & Cosmetic Dentistry for their use of communications. This dentist clinic is a textbook case of a business staying current with the industry while not pushing the envelope. Smileworks allows new technology to become established enough to be adequately evaluated and then proceeds to make solid decisions. They have determined that enlisting the services of local companies for their computer network and website development provides them superior interaction and control along with quality. They previously used out-of-town contractors and found communications/software/website services to be average at best.
They rebuild their website about every five years, update their company software about every seven years, and add communications services as they prove themselves in the dentistry industry. Thus:
- They have just purchased an SMS package to allow better client communications, scheduling, and reviews.
- The office software is less than one year old.
- Their five-year-old website is under renovation.
The SMS application will gradually replace part of their newsletter function of reminders.
Of the businesses reviewed, Smileworks is most like a template to emulate for businesses that want to grow at a sustainable rate.
Smileworks General & Cosmetic Dentistry
882 Whipple Rd
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Today we visit Greenville, South Carolina. Our first step, as always, is to do a Google search. Our search was “florist greenville sc”. Then we click the “more places” option on the Maps listing. Before selecting our telecommunications review company, we clicked on four previous listings. Two did not even have websites, one was wedding specific and the other was a poorly done website that simply listed the three locations that they operated from.
By default, the company we review is Angel’s Flower and Gift Boutique. The website is typical of florists throughout SC. Name of company is at the top along with phone number with the hours of operation and the physical address are tucked down in the footer of the site. Florist websites typically are visually oriented with images of many of the offerings front and center. This website abides by those conventions.
Contact Info: Angel’s provides one incoming phone line with no need of fax listing. The one email they use is not a domain email, rather an email that used to be popular but not is just a redirection. They provide a standard contact form on the Contact Us page that has html formatting problems.
Socially, they used to keep their Facebook page current until February 2017, but there is only one post since. No twitter URL is listed. The last update to the Google Plus listing is two years ago.
Other telecommunications usage was not evident and without an evident FTD contract for delivery, no internet connection is mandatory.
This is a review of a veterinary clinic in Mt Pleasant, SC. According to the website, this vet practice was established in 1959 and continued by the nephew of the original owner and now by the son of that veterinarian. The business telecommunications has grown at industry pace with their use of electronics by establishing more telephone lines, another sister location, and the use of computers to run the businesses.
Since the front office is typically staffed by one receptionist, there is one incoming phone number the goes to a menu option system. If that number is busy, it rolls to one of the typical outgoing lines. It is also intercepted off hours for customers to either leave a message or to recommend an emergency veterinary clinic. This phone line remains a land line without VOIP and no interaction. The two pet hospitals each have an additional two telephone lines to use for outgoing communications and roll over.
Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital
1217 Ben Sawyer Blvd
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Broadband Internet service ties both animal hospital locations together along with a boarding kennel to use the same server in running all aspects of scheduling and records. The combined database allows seamless small animal appointment scheduling for all three locations.
All three locations have an independent FAX for incoming and outgoing pet information, new client dog and cat history, vaccination status and other use by the veterinarians and vet technicians.
Each vet location has a Facebook Page which are kept up to date, and each has a Twitter Page which show tweets at a rate of about every other month.
Dynamic Health and Fitness
This company falls into the fitness training niche. The single website is used for all the three locations in the Columbia, South Carolina area. There was no place found on the website in any prominent location that named the company. The company logo appeared frequently. According to the website: “Awarded Best Health Club 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017!” and “Voted Best of CWC and Best of Lexington Life”.
With respect to communications:
There is no Contact Page in the main menu, requiring the website user to search for contact information.
Each location has a dedicated incoming phone line. Those phone numbers are in small font and located in the footer of the website.
There is a Contact Us icon halfway down on the home page, however only two of the three locations are listed and only phone numbers provided without an email address or fax number.
There is no email address listed for contacting them on the site that was evident other than one that was specifically reserved for “membership account inquires or cancellations”. There is an icon “Schedule a Tour” that calls up a form to fill in that presumably goes to an email address for them.
Based on the above, this company must rely heavily on word of mouth and/or other promotions to provide contact information to new customers. Their Google My Business listing does provide a phone number.
Today we take a look at a small service business in the Tri-county Lowcountry of South Carolina. The business we selected is an average sized tree service company called Palmetto Tree Service. They operate from two locations: Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC. This business was selected as a mid-range business in this niche. There are larger and smaller companies – some with a single operator that rent equipment hire temporary labor and and some with a fleet of bucket trucks and dozens of tree climbers and support staff.
The business provides the normal full array of tree care and is owned and operated by a ISA certified arborist. Services include:
- Tree Removal
- Stump Grinding
- Certified Arborist Consulting
- Storm Preparation and Cleanup of Trees and Limbs
- Wood Waste Recycling
- Tree Planting
- Lightning Protection for Majestic Trees
- Root Flare Exposure
- Root Barrier
Since the business offers service only on site, they have no office that has to be manned. Communications is handled by a single cellular phone line and a single email account.
They phone line is routed to:
- The cell phone
- A separate phone line to an employee’s cell phone
- An answering service
The contact email is set up using gmail which is received on the cell phone. Other email addresses have been created on the domain for various administrative tasks.
Foundation Realty describes itself as a small and sleek boutique firm with more than three hundred years of Lowcountry RE experience. The website has an understated phone number listed top and bottom. The contact page offers a form as the preferred way for clients to get in touch with them.
The firm has approximately 34 real estate agents of varying credentials. Communications used by these agents are:
- Communal office phone number
- Communal office fax number
- Individual agent cell phone number
- Individual agent email address, primarily with the business domain
Outgoing office communications via telephone are handled by approximately seven outgoing numbers.
The office uses broadband internet.
Outgoing, generalized information is provided via the Internet with:
- A frequently posted to Facebook page
- An infrequently used Twitter account
- A frequently updated company blog as part of the business website