Is Your Phone System Confusing?

A home office report into the 101 non-emergency number has revealed that whilst many are satisfied with the service there remains some confusion over the use of non-emergency calls. Around 70% of the 67 million calls received by police each year are deemed to be non-emergency and the 101 system was brought in to prevent these from taking precedent over genuine emergencies.

However, because the 101 call initially goes via a central switchboard before being transferred to a local force the public believe that 101 call handlers may not understand local issues. There are also concerns about the speed of follow up action and whether calls are being logged accurately.

In general the report concluded that whilst a minority of the public would continue to use the 999 service even for non-emergencies, the majority had accepted the 101 system and were even happy with the 15p call cost. This general level of satisfaction is indicative of a telephone system which has been well thought out with the needs of users in mind.

It is this very design, taking care over enhancing the customer experience which can make all the difference between having a reputation as a business which cares for its clients and one which doesn’t. For example, press button systems have been in place for some time. Some work well, swiftly transferring clients to their chosen contact. Unfortunately others entangle callers in a maze of multiple choices before depositing them on an endlessly ringing line or simply cutting callers off.

With all of the technology available to businesses nowadays there is no excuse for the latter scenario. Virtual switchboards can transform the caller experience into a positive one, even if they fail to connect with their chosen contact. Push button choices can be designed to assist callers to swiftly reach the right person whilst call transfer can take over when employees are away from desks. Caller recognition will even switch callers to an appropriate person without the need for push buttons, either connecting them directly or playing pre-recorded messages.

Robust message systems can take over when all else fails, with caller statistics helping to identify when calls fail to get through and act as a trigger to tweak the system. As a final fail safe, using the services of a virtual assistant will ensure that calls are always answered, with messages being relayed by phone, e-mail or text.

We may not like change and automated telephone systems can lead to negative responses. However, with a little thought they can transform the customer experience and make life easier for employees as well.

Written by Lawrence Gow