Switching to a VoIP phone solution can provide your business with a host of features and advantages. We are reviewing five of the ways your customer communications can be enhanced by with a Hosted VoIP Solution. Granted, all businesses are built differently, which can present more or less opportunities than the ones identified below. A key takeaway is that, upon selecting the right hosted VoIP provider, you can explore many improvements in communication processes for the betterment of your customer experience. The technology is powerful, affordable, and within reach!
Efficiently handle inbound calls – Many businesses handle this differently. Some preach the benefits of having a “live” person answering calls, while others prefer to have an automated attendant route calls. The question should focus on what the customer’s demand. The good news is that hosted VoIP solutions can provide the ability to blend the methodology to effectively manage the calls. Say the goal is to have calls answered live. You can build in a ring group process to ring a primary and secondary ring group prior to resorting to an auto attendant process.
If customers will work with automated routing, an auto attendant can be at the front of the process. Your auto attendant should be built around why customers call, making sure you have easy to understand options that address the majority of issues. Examples would be departmental routing such as “customer service” or “to place an order”. To maximize satisfaction with an auto attendant process, you should keep options to a minimum and avoid multi layer processes.
Improve satisfaction with departmental ring groups – As mentioned above, creating ring groups surrounding employees in a department allows for the quick handling of calls. Note that ring groups differ from call queues in that the phone call rings a group of people for a select number of rings before a ring group voicemail takes over. A call queue involves the team logging into a queue and callers being dropped into that queue for the first available caller. Companies can deploy either or both strategies depending upon the customer requirements.
Customers can be routed to the ring group or queue from an automated attendant or from any associate answering a call. The queue or ring group simply needs to be assigned an extension for calls to be manually dropped in.
Every queue or ring group process needs to have an efficient “end” stage. This can be a simple voicemail option with the voicemail converting to an email to route to whoever will be responsible for handling the requests for the department. It also may include an “opt” out feature, discussed below.
Allow callers to escape from voicemail – Whether your callers hit your personal voicemail, are in a call queue, or hit a voicemail for one of your departments (ring groups), it is always a best practice to provide a zero out option. Such options can be custom programmed, but most have the option to ring back to the primary ring group or a designated person. Depending upon the nature of your business and the needs of your callers, some may be fine with leaving messages and getting a prompt return call. However, others may require getting to a live person. Hosted VoIP services can even provide for emergency routing to a designated answering service or a cell phone ring group consisting of your company’s designated on-call employees.
Increase accessibility for associates with high customer touch requirements – Another great benefit of hosted VoIP solutions is to be able to provide for accessibility of your key contact personnel with your customers. Using features such as find me / follow me or other forward options gives your employees to be found wherever they may be. If they are on a ring group, the phone will forward to the number designated. Another option would be to have a simultaneous ring to the associate’s desk phone and cell phone. For sales and support personnel, this provides a great way to be available for customer calls.
Because the service is hosted, associates can take their phones home or wherever they can connect to high speed internet. Their phones will register and operate as if they were in the office, including any ring group involvement. This will provide great flexibility for associates who need to work remotely.
There are a few cautions with this option. You will need to make sure that ring groups ring less than 20 seconds or folks with simultaneous rings or follow me options set for cell phones will not have their cell phone voicemail pick up. Additionally, if cell phone users hit ignore or are out of service, the cell phone voicemail will pick up instead of the office voicemail.
Implementing on-call schedules for support personnel – For businesses that have selected a hosted VoIP service provider who can customize programming, there are some higher level actions that will allow for the selection of employees who are active on call. Such applications come into play when an after hours auto attendant or during hours emergency attendant can ring to designated on-call associates. You can create a menu of who will be on call and include desk phone extensions and cell phones in the mix. Management can select which group is on-call with pre-programmed dial selection or web interfaces where available.
I hope this list has been informative and look forward to any comments.
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.