Just like when you open a new website for your business, and you’re testing the site in all sorts of different ways to make sure you can’t get it to “break”, you have to do the same for your phone system to check for any weak points that may frustrate or discourage your customers.
There are a few problems that commonly occur in business phone systems, which you can easily identify and address so that everyone who calls you has a seamless experience. Don’t let these problems persist any longer because you may be losing customers every day for something totally preventable.
Your Customers Should Always Be Able to Get Through
Sad to say, there are a ton of small businesses who have problems with their phone systems which are easily preventable and fixable, and the owners either neglect them or are not even aware of them.
Many callers trying to reach a business run into problems that stop them from getting through, such as the line ringing endlessly or unexpectedly going dead. Even if you can’t get to someone’s call, they should at least be able to leave a voicemail for you.
When you learn of these problems, though it’s possible that the caller pressed the wrong button or something, don’t assume that it’s always user error. If someone wasn’t able to get through to you, then chances are you don’t have certain features in place or you haven’t made it clear to the caller what they are supposed to do.
To begin with, don’t be one of those businesses who knows their phone system has problems but simply never fixes it because they don’t think it’s that important. Even if you don’t primarily serve customers by phone, your phones still need to work great, so that those people who do contact you by phone will have no problem reaching you.
You can easily lose sales if callers run into problems because if they don’t get through the first time, there’s a good chance they just won’t call back.
Ringing on End is One of the Worst Issues
No matter what features you have set up, the best way to serve your callers, of course, is to make sure that a live person answers the call as often as possible. Aside from that, during the hours when you are open, something should happen on the line even if you aren’t able to answer.
Instead of a ring tone that never ends, it should stop after a few rings and either go to a menu or send the call to voicemail. Keep in mind, also, that the number of rings you allow before the call is sent somewhere else should be limited to somewhere around 4 to 6 rings.
You should definitely have something set up for your after-hours program, too, or else your system might, again, ring on and on by default. It’s a good practice to have calls sent to a mailbox with an informative voicemail greeting that includes things like your hours of operation and alternative contact information.
The Caller Should Never Hear Dead Silence on the Line
When someone is calling into your business, the last thing you want them to hear is dead silence, at any point. It doesn’t matter when it happens–right after they dial your number; when their call is being transferred; or while they’re waiting on hold–it’s always disconcerting to the caller.
This is mainly because they will think, if there’s nothing on the line, that either something went wrong or their call was disconnected. If your system does have this issue, it most commonly happens while the customer is on hold, which can be at different times.
For example, if you have a call menu set up and they press 1 to be connected to a representative, that’s when some hold music or a recorded message should be playing for them, never just silence. In the same way, when someone dials your number and it connects, they should hear a ringing tone or hold music instead of silence.
Do Your Own Quality Checks by Testing Your System
So, how do you know if you are having any of these issues, other than through the feedback of frustrated callers? The easiest way to identify problems is to simply do some test calls of your own from an outside line.
What you want to do is to perform tests for every scenario that a caller would attempt, so that you can replicate anything that they would run into, while looking for the issues we’ve listed above.
You should also take note of anything that frustrates you during your test calls; that way, you can not only address obvious problems with your phone system, but streamline it further at the same time. Finally, it’s a good idea to recruit your friends or family to test your system, as well. An unbiased third party may be able to catch some things that you might miss.
It’s Not as Expensive as You Think to Upgrade Your System
Many small businesses discover these issues in their phone system and don’t do anything to fix them because they assume that it would be expensive to add the features they need or to get a better phone system. It definitely does not have to be expensive.
First of all, if you just find a small issue like an excessive ring time, then you may be able to resolve it by making a small adjustment to your current system or calling your current provider. If you do speak to your provider and find out that they want to charge you a lot of money to upgrade your system, then you might want to consider switching to a virtual phone system like Talkroute, which is far more cost-effective than the local phone company.
With a virtual system, you can add every feature that a business needs for its phones, including voice mailboxes, a call menu, on-hold music, mobile apps, and a lot more. You can even run your business from a single cell phone if you want to.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.