What if you could create the perfect telephone system for your business? What business phone features would you consider essential to maximize employee productivity and improve customer service? Telecommunications capabilities have evolved, and there are a variety of features that are commonplace for business communications, such as auto attendant and voicemail. Many of these features are bundled with business telephone services, while others have to be ordered as a la carte features. You want to identify the business phone features that will deliver the greatest returns.
Many of the newer telephone features seem to make it harder to connect; how many times have you left a voicemail message and received no response? Business phone features should make it easier and more efficient to connect rather than serving as a wall between callers. When assessing the right phone features for your business, you want to think about worker productivity and customer support. Choose features that will make it easier for your team members to collaborate and do their jobs more efficiently—and that make your company more responsive to your customers.
Here are nine popular business phone features that promote productivity:
- Auto attendant – Seventy-five percent of customers rank fast service as most important. At the same time, 40 percent of consumers say they prefer self-service over human interaction. The auto attendant meets both requirements, giving callers a menu of options that can quickly route them to their desired destination without talking to a service representative.
- Voicemail – Although some people choose to hide behind voicemail, it is still one of the most efficient business communications tools available. Callers can use voicemail to leave complex messages and impart detailed information quickly and efficiently.
- Personalized greetings – Just as voicemail can capture incoming information, personalized greetings can tell callers where you are, when you will be back, and how to reach you.
- Find me/follow me – Call forwarding is not new, but find me/follow me is more sophisticated, routing incoming calls to a menu of options. Calls can be forwarded to another number, such as a smartphone, or they can be routed to a preset sequence of destinations (e.g., from remote phone to smartphone to voicemail if there is no answer).
- Hunt groups – Where find me/follow me is ideal for tracking individuals, hunt groups are a means of routing an incoming call to the first available party in a department or group. This is ideal for customer service and sales applications; an incoming call can be routed from number to number until someone answers the line or the call is routed to voicemail.
- Smart directories – With the integration of telephone services and computer networks, employee directories have become more comprehensive—and smarter. You can look for employees by name, location, job function, and other criteria and then have numerous means of contact, including click to dial or click to email.
- Voicemail to email – Telephone and network integration also makes it easier to reach team members through multiple channels. Many people monitor their email more closely, especially when away from the office, and sending auto-transcribed voicemail messages as email often elicits a faster response.
- Conference calling – Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent some time working remotely, so conference calls have become a staple of business. Conference calls make it easier for geographically scattered teams to brainstorm and collaborate in real time.
- Unified communications – As telephone and computer networks become more integrated, more companies are adopting unified communications to promote collaboration using video conferencing, file sharing, chat, email, and other channels, as well as scheduling, calendaring, directories, and other services. Unified communications are designed to consolidate video, voice, text, and data into a single interface.
Another factor is cellular phone use. Research shows that American consumers now spend an average of five hours per day on their mobile phones, and very little of that is actually making telephone calls. People use their phones for email, texting, gaming, and surfing the web. Consumers love their smartphones, and 67 percent of workers say they use their smartphones at work. That’s why more companies are adopting bring-your-own-device policies: to accommodate personal smartphones at work.
The business phone features that your employees will love will encompass both office phone systems and smartphones.
People have become accustomed to using their smartphones to communicate via email, text, and social media—all productivity tools being adopted in the workplace. By adding the business phone features from the office phone system, workers can now use their favorite device—their smartphone—for all their personal and business communications.
Spoke was developed to integrate the smartphone into office communications. Spoke offers the same productivity features that employees are used to using at the office—auto attendant, voicemail, group calling, directory services, etc.—and adds them to workers’ smartphones. With the Spoke app, calls to office extensions are routed to smartphones so that employees can receive inbound calls anywhere. And employees get all the rich features they expect at the office, as well as all the features of their smartphone.