You can do way more with a phone system than just talk

Men on conference call

Phone systems used to be nothing more than a way of connecting callers to your employees. Modern systems still do that but they can do so much more besides ...

1. A single contact number – twin your phones

Ever struggle to keep tabs on multiple phones, with multiple numbers? Mobile twinning could be the answer. Instead of giving out separate office and mobile numbers, you’ll just have the one. And when somebody calls that number, all of your specified phones will ring simultaneously – whether your office phone, mobile or remote office. That way, wherever you are, people can contact you. So you won’t miss any valuable calls from customers, suppliers, or the boss.

You might also see this feature called ‘dynamic extension’ or ‘mobile pairing’.

2. Seamless home working (pyjamas optional)

Productivity shouldn’t stop when employees can’t get into the office. That’s why more and more businesses are letting employees work from home. The benefits are obvious: saving money on office overheads, widening your pool of potential employees, as well as improving work-life balance.

But there are a couple of concerns. How do you maintain a professional image? How can you prevent costly phones bills from calls to and from the home office? The solution to both is linking remote workers to your office phone system.

Armed with a broadband connection and an IP phone, any employee can become a virtual extension of the business telephone system. And they’ll have access to exactly the same functionality and features as in the office. Callers still reach them via the office number and all calls to and from other extensions in the office are free.  

And as they’re part of the office system and on the same number, callers won’t have a clue that the person they’re speaking to is actually sat at home. As long as they remember to put Loose Women on mute when the phone rings, that is.

3. Screen popping – greet your customers as people, not numbers

Ever had to wait on hold while a ‘system’ loads up your details?  Wouldn’t it be a lot better if the person on the end of the phone knew all your details as soon as they picked up the phone? With screen popping, they can.

It’s done by linking your phone system with your database or CRM system. When a call comes in, the system recognises the number instantly. It then “pops up” the associated account details and other stored information on screen. So the person receiving the call can see details of previous calls, know that the customer has an outstanding bill, or that they prefer being addressed as Ms. All before they’ve even said hello.

All of this, of course, can help you create a better customer experience and deal with enquiries more effectively.

4. Presence (Instant Messenger) – know who’s available

You’ll probably be familiar with Instant Messenger tools like Microsoft Communicator. Well, this software can also be included with your phone system. So instead of wasting time routing calls to people who are out of the office or away from their desk, whoever answers the call can see who’s busy or available and route the call to the right place, first time.

The likely result: enquiries dealt with quicker and more happy customers.

Your presence can also link to your Microsoft Outlook calendar; giving you all the information you need right in front of you to schedule meetings and appointments quickly.

5. Visual voicemail – all your messages in one place

Keeping on top of your messages can be a chore. Checking your BlackBerry at the end of the day and seeing a previously un-noticed voicemail icon is far from ideal.

Your phone system can route all of your messages, include voicemails, into a single email inbox. So you can see with messages in a single view, and deal with them in the priority order that you choose.

6. Conference calls – save on travel and office space

Rather than setting up a separate conference call account, most business telephone systems come with in-built conferencing. So whether you need to set up a quick three-way call on the fly, or set up a dial in conference for 20 people, it can be done through your system. The Avaya IP Office, for instance, comes with the ability to set up a conference call with up to 127 others built-in.

7. Personalised on-hold messaging – make the most of waiting times

With over 70% of calls to businesses being left on-hold time for over 43 seconds, that’s an awful lot of time wasted spent listening to Muzak. Instead, why not fill this space with marketing messaging or other pertinent information?

You can also tailor your messaging depending on the caller ID, by linking in to your database, and tapping into your customer segmentation. For long-term customers, you might advertise the rewards of your loyalty scheme. And for customers you’ve flagged on your database with outstanding bills, you might remind them of the ways they can pay while they wait on hold.