Selecting the right route for call handling

      

Selecting the right route for call handling

Ian MitchellThe most obvious question has to be what is "effective call management"?  In simple terms, it can be anything from answering the calls on time, right the way through to having elaborate telecoms systems that manages, distributes and monitors all inbound, internal or outbound calls for a business. 

Whether you are large or small organisation, it is an area all organisations will want to get right. If you want to run an efficient operation, keep customers happy and be financially efficient there are a number of key rules that you will need to follow.

 

The issue is highlighted in some recent research that shows that 62% of callers will not ring back if they hear an engaged tone, whilst 79% say they won't call back if their call goes unanswered.  Important reading if you are a customer orientated business or one that spends time or money marketing oneself to attract business calls (which I guess is the majority of you). 

 

  

  Call Management
    

 

A further survey in 2011, on the topic of British people's patience, found that being put on hold was the third most likely cause for people to become impatient and annoyed with companies.  People remember great customer service and won't put up with bad customer service.

 

But where does an organisation start when selecting the right telecoms system or even to become more aware of what are the latest technologies available?  There are now so many systems and services available it can be a truly daunting prospect. 

 

So before a telecoms package is selected ask some simple questions: how important is my customers' experience, am I happy for them to speak to an automated device and how can I get them through to the right person as quickly as possible? 

 

Also consider who in the team do I want them to speak with, what's the most cost effective way to manage that call, how long are they likely be on the phone for or even where is my call handling team located?  There is a huge amount of flexibility in the telecoms products and services offered by telecoms providers but the solution needs to be built and designed to meet individual business requirements or ways of working.

 

It's also critical to consider what levels of staffing you have, are they the right people to be answering phones (whether over or under skilled) are the systems chosen impacting on staffing levels?  It's also important to know when you are most likely to receive calls and how to manage peak volumes without being over staffed when lines are quiet.  There's also the tricky "out of hours" or contingency plans that need to be considered.

 

But let's be honest, most company directors don't have the time or expertise to determine the right systems that will deliver against their needs.  Working with a trusted telecoms company is the obvious answer, but another key question would be how to select the right one?

 

Again there are a number of questions one should ask, but we think they come down to the key four: have they the capability to match my requirements, do they have the scale and flexibility to meet my needs and are they proven in delivering for businesses of my size or sector?   However, the final one is perhaps the most important, are they people I trust and can work with?  If the answer to these questions is yes, you're on the right path.

 

With the right telecoms partner in place let them shoulder the responsibility to finding you the right systems.  They will be able to advise you of the ideal combination of calling features (whether its translation or hunt group, interactive voice response or auto attendant) which will in turn help your business create a customised experience for the caller as well as help present an extremely professional image whilst maximising the efficiency of call handling.

 

The opportunities are numerous as with the right systems and infrastructure the possibilities are literally endless, and by the time you have finished reading this article the sector is likely to have evolved further to bring new opportunities. 

 

The final question has to be whether it's all worthwhile?  For any customer orientated business the answer has to be yes.  Being well connected internally or externally is critically important as customers become less tolerant and, with the growth of social media, are more likely to complain about poor service.

 

Then there's the management information benefits that increased transparency and visibility of performance can bring.  Organisations will be able to receive live up-to-date reports of received calls, including time, date, duration as well as location of caller or in relation to a specific service or promotion. 

 

From a security perspective, it's good to know that if needed calls can be recorded and stored for future reference, to conform to legalities or help with additional training.  By having the flexibility in a system that allows automatic routing to another location or mobiles, a large part of a business' contingency planning is automatically taken care of as calls can easily and quickly be redirected in the event of a power outage or more serious issue.

 

Although the call management options are extensive and often confusing, what is clear is that the correct combination will bring measurable benefits to your business.  A reputable call management company will guide you through the process and be able to develop and implement a system that will benefit your customers, your staff and, ultimately, your business.  But first you must ask the right questions to find the answers to your organisation's needs.

Written by Ian Mitchell at 10:00

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