It takes more than a phone number and a person sitting in an office taking calls to have an efficient, well-ordered phone system.
Especially if you’re a small business with minimal staff to answer phones, you’ve got to have a system in place to manage unexpected high call volume, proper channels to send calls to the right place, and a professional voicemail system.
These 6 steps are a pretty good outline for how you can accomplish that.
1. Set your hours of operation.
If you’ve got a traditional brick-and-mortar store, then your hours are probably fairly predictable; on the other hand, your hours of operation may become somewhat nebulous when you have an online business or serve multiple time zones.
It’s important that you set very clear boundaries with your customers and establish hours of operation to cover times when you can best serve them.
2. Define clear roles of team members.
Each team member who is taking calls must have a defined role in terms of what inquiries or issues he or she handles.
More importantly, those who are taking the bulk of calls have to know what types of issues all the other team members will be handling, so that they know who to send calls to. Most of this can be managed by your automated call menu, which you’ll see below in #4.
3. Each team member needs their own voicemail and extension.
One of the quickest ways to mismanage calls and lose messages is to have a catch-all extension for general inquiries and to lump all customer messages into one voice mailbox.
You will save yourself so much headache be simply separating mailboxes and extensions. Since each person on your team will handle a specific department, they should each have their own voice mailbox and extension.
4. Set up a call menu.
An auto attendant, or call menu, is one of your greatest assets for managing calls. Also called a phone tree, this menu has been employed by businesses large and small to act as the first filter for directing calls to the right person or department and basically serving as a virtual secretary.
When you set up a call menu, you ensure that each caller will be routed to the right place because as soon as they hear the option that matches what they need, they can press 1 or 2 on their dial pad and be immediately directed appropriately.
Here’s an informative post on setting up a great call menu:
5. Provide a company directory for callers.
Using a company directory assumes that you already have extensions for each of your team members because it is a listing of those extensions. The place where callers will hear this directory depends on whether or not you are using a call menu.
If you have a call menu with options for various departments, you can simply add a menu option that contains a directory for all team members so that callers can dial “0” for example, to hear a list of extensions.
If you’re not using a call menu, you can just include this directory in the welcome greeting that someone hears as soon as they call in.
6. Every recording the caller hears should be clear and simple.
In a professional phone system there are various places that you may need to add a custom message, such as the call menu, welcome greeting, or voicemail greeting.
When you make these recordings, it is very important that you give the caller clear, informative direction. If your recordings are confusing, irritating, or unnecessary, then you might as well not even use them. Additionally, the quality of your recordings is important.
Your phone messages may be the first impression for many of your customers, so you should make it a good one.
Try it yourself.
This plan includes the essential elements that you need to create an efficient business phone system, besides your hardware choices, service providers, etc. Your phone system is one of the most vital aspects of your business—why not design it to streamline customer interaction, instead of hindering it?
Done right, this is an immensely laborsaving element of your infrastructure, making daily operations just that much more effective.
We hope that you will continue to join us on our journey as we help you Grow Your Business! Our blog is 100% free and you don’t have to be a Talkroute customer to benefit from our materials. However, if you would like to try Talkroute’s Virtual Phone System for free, you can sign up for a trial here. See you in a few days.