Smart Business Telephony

“The UK is now a smartphone society” according to an Ofcom report which reveals that the smartphone has overtaken the laptop as the surfing device of choice. Just one year ago 22% of us turned to our phones first for browsing but now this figure has increased to 33% with two thirds of UK adults now owning a smartphone.

The increase in use of smartphones and of tablets has led to a shift in the way in which we communicate, we watch TV and we listen to music. However, some things haven’t changed with the majority of people (55%) still considering that using phones at the meal table is unacceptable.

So how has the rapid rise in smartphone use affected businesses? Well for a start, in April this year Google changed its ranking algorithm to boost the results of those sites which were mobile friendly. This has resulted in many businesses, particularly those which rely on passing trade such as food outlets, having to rapidly revamp their websites in order to retain their search engine ranking.

More profoundly, the availability of ‘always on’ communications is resulting in a shift in expectations on the part of customers. Being out of the office is no longer an excuse to be out of touch. This is forcing businesses to think carefully about their telephony strategy and to put systems in place which will help to ensure that when customers get in touch they are not faced with an endlessly ringing telephone.

For some, the answer may be as simple as a straight divert to mobile or other landline. But when you are in meetings with suppliers, customers or others then regardless of the call divert you are still not going to pick up the phone. Larger organisations have the option of using programmable switchboards with calls being diverted across hunt groups or to alternate telephones depending on the call origin. For smaller organisations the hunt option may not work if there is a chance that the majority of the team are likely to be out of the office or otherwise engaged at any one time.

Alternatives here include the use of answer phones or telephone calls being automatically switched to a virtual assistant service. With calls being preannounced, even if they are representing a number of companies virtual assistants can answer the telephone in the name of the relevant client. Depending on the level of service offered, assistance services can book appointments, answer simple queries, arrange for literature to be forwarded, or simply pass on messages.

Large or small, the key to a successful telephone management system is to look at calls from the point of view of the caller.  Start with your client base and try to identify why they would be calling and how they might respond in the event of not being able to receive an instant response. 

 For example a business or individual with a small caller base may be able to manage expectations, to run with a simple answerphone system whilst ensuring that calls are returned as soon as the individual is free.  On the other hand businesses with a high volume of calls may need to ensure that the call transfer system is robust enough to cope, with calls being diverted to the next available operator and with others in the business being brought in to help at peak times.

As the rise in smartphone use continues, so too will the expectation that our calls will be answered. Smart use of call answering and divert options will mean that customer expectations can be met whether we are in the office or not.

Written by Alison