Used properly, features like an auto attendant, call forwarding, and call queues with your 1800 toll free number, get your callers to the right person within your business in the least amount of time. Used poorly, these features can create long hold times and frustrate your callers.
This week we’ll cover three ways the features of your virtual phone system can cut down the time between when a caller dials your toll free number and when they reach someone that can help.
1. A “Get-to-the-Point” Auto Attendant
Your pre-recorded auto-attendant greeting from Global Call Forwarding welcomes your callers and directs them where to go. For new customers wanting to learn more about your business, this can be a great resource to provide helpful information before they reach someone live – or even answer their question without them needing to speak to someone. For frustrated callers, this greeting can be seen as a barrier between them and getting their problem solved.
To help both types of callers get what they need, it’s important to record your auto attendant greeting in a way that properly prioritizes information. After a brief introduction, include an immediate action prompt like, “if you know the extension of the party you are trying to reach, you may dial it at any time,” or “to hear a directory of available extensions, dial 8 at any time.” Then start to list some shortcut options for your most popular extensions, like ”dial 1 for Sales, dial 2 for Support, or dial 3 for Billing.” This helps your more impatient callers get what they want quickly, and then lets you spend the rest of your auto attendant greeting covering additional information like new promotions, driving directions, changes in store hours, or how to reach your website.
2. Simultaneous Ring for Direct Extensions
All Global Call Forwarding virtual phone systems come with call routing, a feature that lets you set custom rules and rotations for how your calls are forwarded live to your and your team. One of these rules is Simultaneous Ring, which will dial multiple call forwarding numbers at the same time and connect with whichever answers first. This makes Simultaneous Ring perfect for direct or personal extensions. Instead of your caller waiting on hold while we roll through your home office phone, your desk phone at work, and your cell phone to try and track you down, all of your phones trigger at the same time. Your caller gets connected with you immediately wherever you may be.
This also gives you the freedom to choose how you want to take the call. If you’re about to step out of the office and your phones begin to ring, you can choose to answer the call on your cell phone and take the call with you on the go. And vice versa – if you’re just getting into the office, you can take the call from the comfort and clarity of your office phone instead of relying on your cell phone reception or battery life.
3. Managing Your Call Queues
Call queues are a powerful tool to help you manage the peaks in your call volume by keeping callers rotating on hold until a representative is available. But this feature can also be very dangerous because an improperly managed call queue can result in on-hold times that anger your callers and set the stage for an unpleasant call experience. Global Call Forwarding provides several tools to help you manage your call queues, including real-time monitoring and the ability to set a maximum hold duration.
Real-time monitoring lets you see how large your call queues get during your peak hours and days, which can help you manage break and lunch periods and staff appropriately throughout the week. Maximum hold duration puts a limit on how long your callers can remain listening to hold music and waiting for a representative until they are sent to voicemail. While it can be tempting to set this to a really long time, we typically recommend against that. Without a reasonable limit for hold duration, you run the risk of piling up a backlog of frustrated callers. It’s usually better to let callers clear out of your queue, leave a message, and allow you to return their call outside of peak hours. Find a balance that works for your business between answering the most calls and keeping callers on hold for the shortest amount of time.
Also, if you’re using call queues and aren’t available to take calls 24 hours a day, be absolutely sure you’ve set your business hours on your call forwarding numbers. While this is good advice even if you’re not using call queues, leaving a call queue live outside of business hours can mean your callers sitting through long hold times and going to voicemail with no chance of their call being answered.