People at the heart of systems

How did you design your business telephone system? Did it grow organically in line with your business, purchasing a new telephone handset each time you added to your staffing numbers? Or did you future design your system in line with anticipated business changes, leaving multiple unused handsets sitting alone on empty desks, all able to dial in to a complex switchboard with functionality that you hoped you might need at some point in the future?

Whatever the answer, perhaps the most important question which we should be asking is to what extent you set people at the heart of your telephone system. The importance of people at the heart of systems is a question which has grown in importance in the face of technological advances. In fact Professor Klaus Schwab, the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, commented that “all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people” as he called on leaders and people to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first.”

But surely phone systems are designed to put people first, after all their prime function is to enable one person to speak to another. Well not necessarily. It is one thing to design a system which enables calls to be sent or received and transferred around the office, quite another to ensure that call management is optimised for the people who use the system.

Take your suppliers or key customers for example. They may well telephone in on a regular basis but by forcing them to follow the same call pathway as everyone else, you aren’t exactly giving them sort of experience which they may well expect. Why should they have to trail through the pushbutton maze, finally reach an individual and then have to wait while they are transferred to their key contact? Wouldn’t it be far simpler for your system to automatically recognise their telephone number and seamlessly switch them to their final port of call?

And what about all of your other callers? Are easily answered questions such as opening hours or product lines available to access quickly and simply, perhaps by a company information line? Are telephone pathways well thought out and designed to reach an appropriate individual as quickly as possible, or do callers regularly finish up listening to an unanswered phone ringing out on an unattended desk?

Then there is the other side of the coin, the telephone experiences of your own people. Are they regularly interrupted by calls which have nothing to do with them? Are they continually frustrated by having to placate increasingly irate callers, or by having to manage a system which is so counterintuitive that they are continually referring to help manuals?

When you design your telephone system can be all too easy to think purely in terms of processes. However, putting people experiences at the heart of the design not only enables you to finish up with a business telephony system which is effective, it also helps to deliver great experiences through seamless connections.

Written by Alison