Not all phone systems are created equal! And that’s the way it should be.The needs of one business don’t necessarily match those of another business. What’s more, your own business functions probably changed drastically in the last few years—especially during the explosion of remote work. As such, business phone systems must be flexible and customizable, with features that can be added and subtracted without dismantling the entire system.
However, there are some features that can benefit a company no matter the sector, customer base, or number of employees. Universally helpful, these features are renowned for boosting customer relations and employee productivity. Here, we’ve picked what we believe to be the most crucial phone system features for businesses of all sizes.
First and foremost, features that offer ‘Call Control’ are a must-have for any business or institution. This includes the ability to transfer a call, conference in another call, or place a call on hold.
Internal/External Call Transfer is basic, but essential. There are two ways to transfer a call. Whether you want to ‘blind’ transfer (quickly send a call to a coworker) or ‘warm’ transfer (announce a call to a co-worker and then transfer), the ability to transfer a call, both onsite and offsite, is indispensable.
Conference Calling is also key and it must be easy and quick. When you’re on a call with a coworker or client and you need to quickly get input from another coworker, a vendor, partner or a client, the conference feature is vital. Remember, this is just that little ‘conference’ button on the phone that you hit to quickly add one more party to the call. This is often confused with, but different from, a conference ‘bridge’ where many people can call in and talk. A bridge is very important too (and should be a part of any good VoIP system), but not what we’re talking about here.
The On Hold feature is so important. What would any of us do without the ability to quickly put someone on hold and think, chew, wrap up your other call, whatever the case may be. And to top it off you can upload some snappy on-hold music or other audio clips directly to your VoIP software, which will help assure customers that you’ll be right back. Anything to help strengthen customer relations!
Blocking out time in your packed calendar to answer voicemails can be a hassle. A Voicemail-To-Email feature in your phone systems sees that recorded voicemails are sent directly to an email inbox, attached as an audio file. Along with the audio file, the email includes other important call details like the date and time of the call, along with the caller ID. If necessary, you can forward individual messages to specific team members to field, or you can scroll through your inbox feed as you wait to pick up your kids in the school parking lot!
Auto Attendant (Interactive Voice Response)
Not every company has the luxury of a receptionist at the front desk (or even a front desk for that matter). When you don’t have an actual human fielding incoming calls, the next best thing to ensuring incoming calls are transferred to the appropriate person is an Auto Attendant or Interactive Voice Response (IVR). It’s an automated system that greets customers and directs their call using a series of prompts.
For example, you know when you call into the cable company or healthcare institution and a recording says “please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed?” That’s an Auto Attendant. Callers can either answer verbally or press the corresponding number to the menu option they need, then the call is diverted to the correct department. We all know how infuriating a poorly designed Auto Attendant greeting can be. It’s critical to make sure your callers are greeted by a pleasant voice and efficiently designed IVR so they are routed to the right person or department.
One of the major conveniences of VoIP phone systems is the Call Recording feature. Once recorded, the call audio is saved in the cloud and stays there safely stored until you need to refer back to it. One of the greatest reasons for call recording is for training purposes. Unhappy customer calls happen (hopefully these are rare!) and these call recordings can be played for recruits to show them how to handle the situation. If necessary, you can program call recordings to be automatically deleted after a predetermined amount of time. If you have a high volume of calls you will likely have to offload the recordings to an FTP server for safe keeping.
Call Reporting & Analytics
Call Reporting and Analytics are one of the major “behind the scenes” functions that can truly help keep a business on course and running smoothly. There are several use cases for call reporting and analytics. For instance, your sales team can view VoIP analytics to learn how long a sales call typically lasts and which salesperson is fielding the most calls. What’s more, call reporting and real-time analytics can be used to manage call flow at contact centers. You can monitor which call agent has the longest queue and divert calls in real-time to another agent. This keeps the line moving.
Find Me/Follow Me
Two services in the call forwarding category of IP telephony features, Find Me and Follow Me are used in tandem to ensure your customers or potential clients can always reach you. To put it simply, this feature means you can set your phone calls to ring your cell phone, your home phone, or any offsite phone where you’d like your calls to be sent. This is a life saver when you have to run out unexpectedly or when you’re on the road frequently but you still like to be reachable.
Flexible Call Queues
While receiving more calls than you can handle is a sign that your business is popular and in demand, it can also stretch your customer service team to unreasonable limits. Flexible Call Queues means that you can intelligently route calls based on your business needs. Two staff members can field calls for the first three or four rings then calls can roll to a queue of four more coworkers to pick up as needed. Callers can log in and out of queues as needed, which is especially helpful in busier office settings or call centers.
For some, the move to the cloud can be daunting and nightmare inducing. Scary stories abound! But the majority of the worry is based on the misconception that the cloud is the wild west of the internet and anyone can access whatever they want at any time. In reality, the right VoIP provider will make absolutely certain that Security is first and foremost. Most data centers are equipped with levels of security greater than what is found in a typical office IT closet. Furthermore, a good VoIP phone system will have secure permissions and settings options so management can decide how much or how little users can access information housed on the phone system (recordings, voicemail, etc).
The number of features available to you in your communication system depends greatly on the type of office phone system you use. Legacy telephone networks (phone systems of the ’90s and early 2000s that pre-dated widespread internet use) typically have far fewer features than VoIP systems, for example. The best way to find out what features are absolutely necessary to your business needs is to talk to someone knowledgeable in business communications. Reach out to us directly and we’ll walk you through potential products, features, and our own recommendations, plus we’ll do a complete demonstration of our features over a convenient web-based screen-sharing session.