Has Your Business Outgrown Its Phone System?
By Cathy Habas
For months and years you dreamed of the day that your small business’s phone would ring off the hook. And it’s finally happened!
But when your small business starts to field more and more phone calls, it becomes necessary to change the way you look at call management. If your strategy up to this point has been to simply handle all calls yourself and to always pick up the phone whenever it rings, you’ll quickly learn that this method doesn’t work as well when hundreds of calls stream in each day.
You could park someone next to the phone and pay them to answer it all day long, but this is still inefficient. Long lines of waiting callers can easily form. People generally don’t like to wait on hold, and you could end up missing entire calls without a good phone management system in place.
According to Zintel, a phone system provider based in Australia, “missing a call could mean missing a big sale or creating a disgruntled customer.” Small businesses in particular rely on satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and to help with word-of-mouth marketing. A single disgruntled customer is always bound to happen, but it’s an alarming trend to have more and more people dissatisfied with your customer service.
So, what can you do instead? Fortunately, there are many solutions on the market. Here are some features you should look for in a call management system. If you’re on a tight budget, decide what your business absolutely requires and what can wait until later, and look for a phone service company that lets you create a custom plan.
Let’s say you have a small office staff that can efficiently handle phone calls nine times out of ten. But there are occasional periods where your office is inundated with an influx of calls, and your staff can’t keep up with the demand. Do you stress out and worry about missing calls or making people unhappy? Do you pull other people away from their work and make them answer the phone even if it’s not their forte?
Neither of those solutions is ideal. Instead, you can sign up for a call overflow service. When your business lines are busy, additional calls are automatically forwarded to another line. You can even customize which line to forward calls based on the time of day in order to give employees overflow shifts. Or, you can simply have overflow calls sent straight to voicemail.
Route Calls With a Custom Menu
Why pay someone to route calls when your callers can route themselves? With a custom menu, you can allow callers to choose from a variety of departments or options in order to make sure the right person handles the call.
Automatic call routing makes your entire phone system more efficient, allowing your employees to be more productive.
Toll Free Numbers
Toll free numbers give your small business a more professional image. And if your business serves people around the country, a toll free number helps you promote that impression. An area code, on the other hand, says that you are a small business that serves local clientele.
Toll free numbers also help you create a more memorable phone number. You can purchase a toll free number that spells something related to your business, for example. Or, you can look for patterns that are easy to memorize, such as 1234 or 5533.
Customers also have an easier time remembering shorter numbers, even in the amount of time it takes to jot a number down on a scrap piece of paper after seeing an advertisement. A toll free number helps eliminate the area code, because 1-800 numbers are standard, as are Zintel’s 1-300 numbers for Australian businesses.
Voicemail to Email
Forget about picking up your phone entirely with this neat feature. When you’re having a productive day at the office, sometimes it’s nice to just switch your phone off and continue to work on the computer without distractions.
You can continue to stay up to date on voicemails that come through thanks to the voicemail to email feature common among phone management systems. Voicemails are automatically transcribed and delivered to your email inbox, where you can quickly scan them and determine their importance.
This is also an incredibly useful feature if you tend to lose track of your phone.
Finally, another useful phone tool for small businesses is call recording. Whether you don’t want to miss a single comment from an important conference call or you need to record calls for training purposes, call recording is a function that you’ll appreciate when the need arises.
The right phone system makes it easy to scale your customer service operation based on the time of day, day of the week or even month of the year. These are just a few of the call management system tools available to small businesses. Now whenever there is an influx of calls, you’ll be ready to handle it.