The phone is an essential communications tool for businesses, but getting the most out of its many 21st Century features requires careful planning, consideration and some commons sense. Rafael Cortes, marketing manager for integrated communications provider, Foehn, explains why in part one of two.
For many years the telephone was just that…a telephone. Two people could hold a conversation ‘electrically’ and that was about as capable and interesting as it got. The fact that two people on opposite sides of the world could speak with each other in real time was and still is, of course, a remarkable achievement of human ingenuity.
Despite the ever-growing plethora of communications technologies available to businesses, the ability to speak to another person on the phone is still an important and in many instances crucial way to conduct business.
Most if not all companies have some sort of telephony requirement. At one end of the spectrum a small business, such as a firm of accountants or a sole trader, will have a need to speak with clients, customers and suppliers. At the other end of the scale, a much larger business might have comprehensive and complex telephony requirements that could involve a 24/7 busy call centre or require highly sophisticated calling routing requirements.
Whatever their needs, the modern features of a telephone system enable employees to do more than just converse, but such features need to be carefully planned and managed to get the most out of them.
The Automated Attendant
Many companies now have in place an Auto Attendant facility that removes the need for a human operator or receptionist. Calls are answered automatically and may then be routed to the appropriate person, team or department. In some cases there may be no requirement for a receptionist, especially in small companies, in which case the Auto Attendant is saving on the cost of an employee. In other situations, the Auto Attendant may be used for ‘out of hours’ calls or when the person who usually answers the calls is away or unavailable themselves.
The effective use of Auto Attendant can make a big difference to the productivity of a business as well as providing callers with a fast, effective and satisfactory way of reaching someone or getting information. However, a poorly designed or configured Auto Attendant can have the opposite and negative effect. Some are too complicated and / or offer too many options. They end up not only confusing callers – existing and potential customers – but can also result in a bad impression of the company.
Getting a call directed to the right person is one thing, but having the call answered is quite another. When the highly useful and now much used voicemail feature was introduced as a means of capturing and recording calls, it solved the historical problem of a person being away from their phone and unable to answer immediately. The caller could leave a message and the call could be returned later – simple! However, the introduction of voicemail was not without its initial frustrations, some of which still linger today where companies do not use this useful tool appropriately.
If your voicemail is personalised – and usually the best ones are – be sure to record one that is concise, clear and provides the caller with useful information, such as how long you will be away and when they might expect a call or contact back. If you are going to be away for a long period, you might wish to provide them with alternative contact details so that they can speak with someone else.
Find out more about using your telephones more effectively by reading part two here.
For more information and top tips about how to get more from telephony, visit the Foehn Resource Hub