Is Your Phone System Open for Business?
Newsflash! Mobile is revolutionizing how business is done. Customers are calling your business more than ever before. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? If a consumer calls your business, what happens to that call? What should happen to that call? Is your customer being served or are they hanging up and calling your competition?
The illustration below shows some possible ways you can handle an incoming phone call.
Figure 1: The call comes in
What is the best way for your business phones to be answered? What system works best for you? The phone system is more than IVR versus Operator. What system will grow as your business grows? There are a few things to consider when determining the best system for you and your business.
What is the cost for an operator(s) versus an automated system? Does one work “better” than the other? Does one work better for you, but not for the consumer, or vice-versa? What’s the best way to greet the customer, find out their needs, and get them to the proper people to help them? Is there a way to achieve this and save your company money at the same time? What’s the best way to exploit the advantages of IVR? It’s always smart to keep your eye on the next step.
CALL IS ANSWERED
Figure 2: The call is answered
The customer has been greeted and transferred to an employee or the next step in the voice recognition system. The diagram is called a “call tree.”
This is a good time to review some of the advantages of an IVR system. It’s less expensive overall; for some businesses, this could be one operator, for others, this could be 20-100 operators.
It’s not just the total number of operators. The best IVRs can gather information faster and more efficiently than an operator answering a call. This saves each operator time and allows more customers to be helped. This also potentially means that those customers will be on hold for a shorter period of time. So, rather just sitting on hold playing bad “elevator music,” an IVR system gathers information from the customer during this down time.
The possible outcomes of a phone call are shown in Figure 2. If customers are hanging up or not completing the call, it’s imperative to find out why. If additional actions are required, does your system help with follow-up? It’s important to investigate SMS, appointment scheduling, and other such options for your phone system.
Figure 3: The follow-up call. What did/should happen?
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CALL?
The call is over. What did you learn? We haven’t mentioned the “a-word” yet, but you knew it was coming. Analytics.
Where did the call come from? Which phone number/campaign is driving your calls? You learn this primarily by either asking the customer or from the analytics supplied by your phone system/analytics company. It’s important to remember that quality counts and the quality of your analytics really counts.
You can also find out why there were errors. Are calls being lost? Are customers getting into your system, but can’t find a way out? Are particular times of the day surprisingly busy? These answers will be in your data.
If more action is required on your part, do you have a plan to follow-up? Your system helps you to call the customer back or take whatever additional action is required. If you have errors, and all systems do, use the following diagram to lead you in dissecting your data. In other words, collect your data, study it, and make the necessary changes to create a first-class phone/customer support system.
Isn’t that really what a phone system is?
Figure 4: What kind of errors are you experiencing and how do you fix them?
The answers to these questions will depend upon whether you are using an operator, an IVR, or a combination of both. If you are having these problems with an operator, you have personnel problems and/or internal phone layout issues. You may also not be designating the proper call transfers that the system should make.
If customers are not being helped, you should examine policies which may be blocking resolutions. This is true for either operator or IVR. If callers are getting stuck in your system and you have an IVR, you need to review your commands to the caller. Do they know that they can say “main menu” or “operator” to get help? The caller options should are repeated so that they know their options at all times. The important thing is to test your system before going live, detect problems in the system, and fix them as quickly as possible.
Figure 5: The path of one simple phone call
So, let’s recap. This the diagram of one simple phone call. You probably didn’t realize it had that many aspects, did you? There are lots of ways to make a mistake, but when done right, an efficiently designed and implemented phone system is a golden opportunity to bind the customer closer to you.
In this article, we have asked a lot of questions instead of answering them. That’s because every business is different and has different requirements of its phone system. So, once you answer the questions, you can begin the work of system design and implementation.