Telephones were invented in 1876. They were large, clunky devices capable of transmitting and receiving voice messages over short distances and they changed communications forever. Over the years they’ve become lighter, transportable devices capable of enabling communications over large distances.
Their primary role now in the business world is to help you work smarter, not harder by providing efficient solutions to your communications needs.
As the design and capabilities of the devices changed, the list of business phone system features exploded into the hundreds. However, research shows that businesses only use about 10 percent of those features.
So how do you determine which ones your business will need, what are they and how will they enable your organisation’s business processes?
Based on the data from our customers, the following are the top 5 most used business phone features of a cloud-based phone system.
IVR / Auto-attendant
Auto-attendant is a feature that allows you to route calls to the person or department a caller wants to speak to. It works by playing each caller a greeting and providing them with a menu of options on how to direct the call.
An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is a version of auto-attendant that’s a little fancier. In addition to the auto attendant’s features, it’s also great for handling automated tasks that involve numbers and simple yes/no answers.
For example, if you call your credit card company, you can pay by phone by entering the numbers in your checking account. There are multiple benefits for your business which having an auto attendant or an IVR provide.
Time and cost savings are the obvious ones. Setting the IVR to work for different departments, office hours, countries, payments etc. will save your business hundreds of hours of staff time over an extended period. It will increase customer satisfaction by not having to wait on hold for any significant period of time.
Then, there is also increased productivity.
If you have no receptionist and your phone system set up means that employees are answering calls which are not for them, the disruption might be worse than you think. Research shows that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. So imagine how much more productive your entire office will be once your IVR is answering and sorting your phone calls.
2. Voicemail to email
With a cloud phone system you can have all your voicemail messages sent straight to your email inbox.
When someone leaves a message, the audio file, which is playable on any device, is sent to your email along with the details of the caller.
It is very handy if you’re running between meetings, working on a presentation, have multiple phones or simply too busy to check your voicemail box.
It also helps you prioritize and organize the important messages that are most likely to lead to direct sales and return them from wherever you are located. Voicemail to email gives you the opportunity to create desktop folders which allow you to categorize your messages.
Another useful benefit is that it helps you to respond quicker. An out of battery phone is no longer an excuse for having a customer or a potential lead waiting in your voicemail box for your response.
You may know that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep one. The majority of customers (3 in 5) have no problem trying a new brand or company to get a better customer experience. You just can’t afford to miss any business phone calls or not respond to voicemails as quickly as possible.
Getting your voicemails to your inbox allows you to listen to them on any device and also respond to them whenever you get a chance. Your inbox also serves as a constant reminder to check your messages. Voicemail to email helps you to stay on top of your working day and keeps your customers’ satisfaction levels up.
3. Call Forwarding
Call Forwarding is a service offered by the majority of business phone system vendors. It forwards calls to a designated number, for example, an office’s phone calls can be forwarded to an employee’s cell phone or home phone. In some systems, call forwarding will call a series of numbers until it gets an answer.
Why would you need that functionality? It increases the availability – everyone can become accessible on their business phone even when they are out of the office. As long as an employee can answer one of the forwarding phones, she or he will always be within reach to speak directly to customers.
On the other hand, it allows for the employees to be more mobile. Are you stuck in a traffic jam after a meeting? Do you have to travel for 3 hours one way to meet a large potential customer? Having home trouble and need to stay at home waiting for a plumber? In all those scenarios, call forwarding function will allow you take calls that come to your IP business phone for as long as you are out of office, making you more mobile and responsive.
Forwarding incoming calls also allows a business to expand its perceived presence by having multiple numbers forwarded to the same central location. This lets customers call a local or toll-free number, even if they are in a different country, which then forwards their calls to the business’s switchboard or main phone line. Customers may prefer this to placing a long-distance call, which may involve additional charges and give the impression that the business is distant, remote, or not technologically up-to-date.
4. Call Conferencing
Call conferencing is a powerful feature for any small business phone system as it can vastly improve communication and efficiency while saving both time and money.
Conferencing makes it possible to have business meetings anywhere, without the limited number of callers found on a residential or mobile conference call.
Quality call conferencing allows businesses with multiple locations to operate by enabling regular catch up meetings. Keeping up to date with important partners or big opportunities can be done without the need to travel.
5. Follow Me Functionality
This feature has grown in popularity over the last number of years, thanks to everyone’s increasing reliance on their mobile devices. It allows you to make calls to your employees’ desk phones ring on their mobile phone as well when they are not in the office.
Therefore, if one of your staff members is on the road, working from home, visiting another client or engaging in other business travel, they can still receive important calls just as if they were at the office. Your customers will never know.
Call diverting feature greatly increases your employees’ mobility and flexibility and the perception of your business as always available and accessible.
Having an easy system that will enable you to empower your employees to work remotely will also make you more attractive for your existing and potential employees.