How easily can your team communicate with each other at work? When you take an honest assessment of the system you use for everyone to stay in touch with each other, you might very well discover that you’re wasting a lot of time and energy without realizing it.
We’re going to go over a few of the most common mistakes that small businesses make in the ways that they organize their phone systems and other coms, but mainly how the phones are actually designed to complicate things instead of simplifying them.
Disjointed Communication is Your Enemy
Any business owner knows that all communication in your business has to be well-coordinated to be effective, and this is especially true for your phone system. Depending on how many employees you have, whether they work in a central office or remotely, and how much everyone interacts with customers over the phone.
Obviously, many small businesses today interface with customers mainly through email, text messaging, or other online channels. In fact, there are some businesses who are deciding to do away with phones entirely.
If you do rely on your phones quite a bit, however, it has to integrate perfectly with your online coms, even just between employees. To start with, speed of communication is absolutely key. What happens when an employee has trouble transferring a call, or when they cannot transfer a caller directly to someone’s voicemail or desk phone?
Everyone on your team also needs to know what calls or messages require their attention, specifically. These are some of the issues that we’re going to address in this post.
Traditional System vs. Online Control Panel
Take a moment to examine what your current phone system looks like. Certain problems can arise especially with remote employees, no matter what type of system you have.
Do you have a conventional wired system on-site, which has integrated desk phones using either a landline or VoIP connection? Small businesses have been using that kind of setup for decades, and everyone pretty much understands how everything works and how to use it with minimal training.
The traditional setup typically works great, but with new technologies coming in, such as soft phones and employees’ cell phones, some confusion can result when you try to integrate everything into one centralized solution.
If you implement a professional virtual phone system (preferably using a provider like Talkroute that utilizes the phones you already have), you can then unify all of your phones with one platform, the virtual system.
The greatest part of using this type of system is that you have an online control panel where you can easily set up and manage all of your calls, text messages, and voicemail from one place, and you can adjust your settings from the control panel to organize the system and make changes whenever you need to.
Employees can monitor their voicemail from their online dashboard, send and receive text messages, and you can even add a call menu, or auto attendant that routes calls to exactly the right person or department.
Keep in mind that the virtual phone system doesn’t require any new phones or equipment; you may use the landlines, cell phones, or even Google Voice numbers and other types which you already have.
No Need to Check Multiple Sources to Stay in the Loop
This mainly becomes a problem as businesses add more channels of communications through which they interface with customers. For example, in addition to your main phone system in the office, employees may also be using their own points of contact because customers might be calling or texting them on their personal cell phones.
That means they you not only have to make sure that they get their messages from the primary business voice mailbox, but they also have to be checking their personal phones for voicemail, texts, and emails there, as well.
This is exactly the reason that using a unified virtual system with an online dashboard is so useful, as it puts all business calls and messages in one place, and you can route everything through the main system, eliminating the need for multiple sources of messages from customers.
If you are using cell phones only for everybody on your staff, you can still centralize calls and messages through the virtual phone system because you simply add all of your cell phones as forwarding phone numbers on your account and give everyone their own business voice mailbox and user account.
This way, all of your users can get all of their calls, voicemails, and texts through the system and stop receiving messages from all different places.
Don’t Miss Any More Messages
Most importantly, this kind of system ensures that you will stop missing or misplacing messages. On your current system, it’s possible that there may not even be notifications sent when new messages come in, where employees have to actively check for a new voicemail.
When you set up a Talkroute account, you can set it to send alerts to the correct person every time, for new voicemail or text messages. This allows everybody to respond quickly to make sure that no sales, order requests, etc. are lost because the customer had to wait too long or never received a response.
Each person on your team can have their own business voice mailbox, which is separate from their personal voicemail, and they can check voicemail from three places: Log into their user account and go to their messages section, check the mobile app, or by using voicemail-to-email; you can even play the audio file directly from the email.
It’s up to you if you want to have only one general mailbox that everybody uses, or assign individual mailboxes for each employee. You can also limit each user’s access to be able to view their voicemails and texts only, or make them an admin user with full access to your account.
Direct Customers to the Right Place
Using your online control panel, you can set up a menu for callers (auto attendant, or call menu) that they can use to choose the person or department they need to reach from a list of options, e.g., “Press 1 to place an order, Press 2 for support…,” and so forth.
You can set up your call menu in any configuration that you need, and each option can route to whatever destination you like. You can even add a menu option that sends the caller directly to voicemail. Employees can either take the call or receive voicemail messages in their mailbox.
If your organization changes in any way, you can always log into your dashboard and edit your settings at any time. There is no longer any need to receive every voicemail in one single, general voice mailbox, unless that is the configuration you want.
This type of setup works great for businesses who have remote employees because they can receive their calls and messages in the same way they would if they were physically on the office premises, whether they’re using a cell phone or any other kind of phone.
It’s our hope that you found some ideas in this post that will be useful for you to streamline and simplify your phone system, to make sure your whole team can quickly and easily stay in touch with each other, as well as with your customers.
No matter what kind of system you currently have in place, even if you’re just running everything from a single cell phone, a virtual phone system can give you all of the tools you need to make sure all your businesses calls and messages are managed efficiently, in one unified solution.
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.