Even though smartphones have taken over the communications sector, every business needs a phone system to communicate with customers in a professional manner. This article will help you understand what kind of features to look for in a phone system for your business.
As the world gets more well-connected due to improvements in communication, your business phone systems must be able to keep up with the evolving technology. Landlines just don’t make the cut anymore, and with businesses shifting rapidly to the cloud, it’s time to move your business phone system to the cloud as well.
As a small-medium sized business, it is important for you to communicate with your customers and enable your employees to do the same. Customer experience is one crucial factor that determines how well a business performs, and the phone is one channel through which a majority of customers contact a business.
When looking for a phone system for your business, you need to ensure that it has good features to enable communication as well as collaboration.
You need to look for features that can help you manage the available resources efficiently, as well as provide a good experience for your customers. Below are a few features that could help you with that.
1. VoIP – for superior call experience
The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is now almost obsolete. It’s time to switch to the new (not-so-new now) Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. VoIP systems are generally easier to maintain and cost way less to set up than a traditional phone system. It lets you make phone calls over your LAN or the internet.
VoIP works by converting your voice into small data packets and sending them over the internet. A decoder at the receiver’s end transforms the digital signals back into the sender’s voice data. VoIP helps you minimize your hardware setup and maintenance costs. All you need is a working internet connection and a device to connect to it.
Also, with VoIP, you can buy virtual phone numbers which can help your business establish a local presence in geographies where you are not physically present.
2. Call routing/call queue – For improving operational efficiency
Let’s consider an example. You have a business number, and a customer calls you requesting a price quote on an item. Without a receptionist, the call could be picked up by anyone, and the customer may have to repeat the query multiple times until the call gets transferred to the right person.
This leads to frustration on the customer’s part, and they could even drop the call mid-way, resulting in loss of lead for your business.
Also, you could have multiple customers calling in at the same time, having different requests. This results in a call spike, and you may not have enough agents to attend to calls immediately. This is where routing calls saves your day.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a form of call routing, which helps you save time and provide good service to your customers. If you are a small business looking to up your business game, this is one feature that you cannot compromise on.
3. Auto-attendant – to help customers find quick answers
Long gone are the days when you’d call an office, and a receptionist would greet you and ask you what you need before transferring you to the relevant person. Today, with cloud telephony, you can use auto-attendant with an AI to help your callers find quick resolutions. It functions as a receptionist and displays answers to FAQs before connecting the call.
This helps you save time for the business as well as the customer. If the customer wants to talk to an agent, the feature can be set up so that it prompts users to press keys, based on which it routes the calls to the relevant department.
This feature is definitely a must-have for small businesses, as you can improve customer satisfaction by directing them to the correct department.
4. Mobile app – For anywhere, anytime connectivity
You may not be able to take calls when you’re away from your desk. Mobile twinning helps with that. Most cloud telephony systems only require a sign-up and login, so they provide you the flexibility to work with any device, no matter what your location is.
This could also be useful when you’re working with remote agents, it allows you to use your mobile phone as an extension of your telephone.
You can also ensure that none of your calls go unanswered. For example, you can set up devices so that incoming calls ring on your alternate device when the primary source goes unanswered.
5. Voicemail – to reduce waiting time
Voicemail usually comes in-built with every phone system, be it traditional or virtual. But as a small business, what makes this a must-have feature is a few add ons as mentioned below:
Remote messages: You must be able to get to your messages, no matter where you are. This helps you get back to your callers instantly, whether your working on-premise or remote. It helps you ensure that no customers are left hanging.
Voicemail capacity: Callers must be able to leave long messages. Though it can get tiring to listen to them, if a frustrated customer is unable to reach you, the final nail in the coffin would be if your voicemail cut them off. In a business setting, you would not want to cut off your prospects by imposing time or length restrictions on voice messages.
Greetings: Having multiple pre-recorded greetings can be a huge plus, it shows attention to detail. You can customize each message to play when you’re out of the office, on your lunch break, or busy on another call. You can also have customized messages/music to play when you have to put customers on hold.
6. Agent status – transfer calls intuitively
When you twin devices, you might need to check if your co-worker is free before transferring the call to them. Having in-built status like lunch, training, online, offline can help you identify the status and transfer the call accordingly.
Having this feature helps your business serve customers better by transferring calls only to available agents. You do not want the customer to stay online while the call rings forever and no one is available to take it. It could help you retain customers who might otherwise hang up if the phone goes unanswered.
7. Call recording – revisit your conversations
Call recording helps you record and save calls as a digital audio file. You can dissect the minute details of every conversation, and re-visit points where you could improve. Listening to calls can help you catch details that you may have previously missed.
While call logging only gives you details like time and duration of calls, call recording helps you listen to the actual conversation that took place on the call.
As a small business, this feature also helps you train agents. You can have them listen to the recorded calls, and learn how to handle different customers.
Some phone systems may delete these recordings after a particular period, so find the one that is suitable for your needs before looking for this feature.
8. Call metrics – track call performance
When it comes to the phone system, the major change we’ve seen is the digitization of voice calls. VoIP has enabled businesses to handle calls through a browser, which helps in measuring key call metrics like duration of a call, average handle time, speed of answer, etc.
Tracking these metrics can help you improve the customer experience by measuring and reducing the minimum response time.
9. Call notes – provide context to agents
Customer support may sometimes require people from different departments to coordinate, in such a case, repeating the issue to each person becomes cumbersome.
Having call notes on-screen helps you type down notes as you’re on a call with the customer, which you can then forward to the relevant department to take up. This not only saves time but also helps give context on what the customer actually needs.
You can also label notes with tags like ‘paid customer’, ‘evaluating’, etc., which you can then feedback to your CRM to personalize communication and stay on track. This helps you save a lot of time and hassle.
10. Teleconference – enable multi-party calls
The ability to add more participants to a call is important in a phone system. In many situations, they can help speed up the sales process and win a lead.
For example, if you’re a pre-sales person who handles demos, and the customer would like to talk about pricing immediately, you can simply add the salesperson to the call and proceed to close the deal if you have the conferencing option.
Make sure your phone system has this option, as it could help you speed up the sales process and enable you to make decisions quickly by consulting with your supervisor on-call.
A few good-to-have features of business phone system
Below are a few good-to-have features that could help you enhance your call center operations. While the above features are very much necessary to provide good customer experience, the below features can help you improve customer satisfaction:
Voicemail transcription – Auto transcribe voice-to-text so you can quickly skim through them instead of listening to long voicemails
Call analytics – Measure metrics like call summary, call volume and get detailed reports to get an idea on how to improve your phone system operations
Desk phones – They are browser extensions that you can have as an add-on. They ring and alert you to an incoming call if you’re not available at your desk
Agent extensions – Personalize the customer experience by assigning an individual agent, so that they are the SPOC each time when the customer calls
Ask for a callback – Avoid call drops with this option. Put customers on virtual hold so that you can get back to them when you’re free
The Big Picture of Business Phone System
Even though chatbots and AI are starting to take over the way we communicate, talking to a human always has a touch of personalization that bots can’t provide.
A major factor that determines how a business thrives is how it communicates with its customers. For that reason, it is important to have a reliable channel through which your customer can reach you at any time.
With the emergence of cloud telephony, setting up a phone system has become easier than ever. While the features mentioned in this article are by no means exhaustive, they can definitely help you provide a good call experience for your customers.
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