Posts Tagged ‘direct in dialing’

successThe good news is that productivity in the American workforce is near an all time high. The bad news is that we are busier than we have ever been without much hope for seeing things slow down in the short term. Now is the time to use technology to streamline a process, increase customer retention and make it easier for your customers to give you their money. Let’s take your telecommunication system as an example.

Let’s make some basic assumptions and see if we can find a resolution.

  • Customers who call in want a question answered or problem solved. Unfortunately, voice mail is not the answer. Voice mail will document their concern but can never address it. Ignoring and being unresponsive to voice mails will only aggravate your customers. The answer is to leverage the mobility solutions inherent in the more advanced VoIP systems. Find Me-Follow Me and IP Mobility come to mind.  Find Me-Follow Me allows your extension to ring initially but if unanswered, will ring your mobile device. If you are busy or can not answer on your mobile, the caller returns to your company’s voicemail (not your cell phone provider) where they can leave a message or zero out to the operator. IP Mobility works in conjunction such that when you are talking to your customer on your mobile device, you have all the features inherent to your desk set such as, transfer to another extension, record the call, send it back to your desk phone and more. You may even initiate business calls from your mobile device in which the call is routed though your VoIP phone system. The caller receives the Caller ID of your business, thus keeping your mobile number private.
  • If a customer wants to buy something or pay for something, let them. This may seem obvious but so many telecommunications systems are not programmed to provide this level of client interaction. Customers willing to spend money with you are sent to your employee’s voice mailbox. When the call is eventually returned, the customer may be unavailable or unwilling to part with their money. Programming options available to remedy this situation are:
    • Group Ringing with Overflow. Callers to certain departments; sales, billing and the like, ring at all phones associated with that department. If unanswered, calls will ring at overflow positions where the call can be handled in an “as needed” fashion.
    • Linear Hunt Groups. Callers to a department will be sent initially to those in the department best suited to assist them. If there are more callers than department personal, additional callers will be sent to stations who can help out as needed.
    • Uniform Call Distribution. Callers to a certain department are sent to a pilot number. Personell taking the calls are logged in as agents. Calls are distributed evenly among the agents. Callers not answered are put in a queue and answered in the order received while occasionally reminded that their call is important. 

Whatever method best suits your company’s needs is not important. What is important is that all callers are given a chance to talk and interact with your employees. Problems are addressed, questions are answered and money is spent. Take a fresh look and see if your telecommunications platform is part of the problem or part of the solution.

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I have not been the biggest proponent of Hosted/Managed IP. As a previous post “An Open Letter to Hosted IP Providers” will attest to,  https://selecttelecom.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/an-open-letter-to-hosted-ip-providers/  Now it’s time for me to change my tune for I believe Toshiba has got it right with their VIPedge.  As I make my argument, let’s break it into two logical discussions. First being, “What type of company would benefit?” and the second being “Why is this solution superior.” 

What type of company would benefit? Toshiba’s VIPedge is designed for companies needing advanced telecom features, such as Unified Communications and PC integration with Outlook or their CRM database but not willing or wanting to own and maintain a telephone system. The VIPedge offers the alternative. Customers pay a recurring monthly fee based on size and usage. Unlike other providers who lock you in to 3 and 5 year contracts, the VIPedge commitment is only 2 years.

Why is this solution superior? The easy answer is the phones. Instead of tiny phones with hard to read LCD’s and even harder to understand buttons, choose either a 9-line LCD, 20 programmable button set or the DECT 6.0 IP4100 wireless.

With its large footprint and layout to which you’ve been accustomed, transition to the Hosted world is a breeze.

You’ll get the features that most hosted systems tout such as:

  • The ability to give each extension a unique telephone number, but still maintain your company’s listed number
  • Voice Mail with Unified Messaging including Presence, IM, Chat and Desktop Call Control
  • Mobility with Find-me, Follow-me
  • Unlimited Local/LD in all 50 states. Toll free and international calling available
  • Seamless Networking between offices
  • VIPedge Enterprise Manager web interface to configure, manage, control and maintain
  • Survivability

More importantly, here are some features that the VIPedge has that is usually not found in Hosted IP. These are the key system features we’ve grown to love:

  • Outside Line Buttons
  • Directory Numbers; Primary, Phantom and Pilot
  • Direct Station Select (DSS) Keys
  • Multiple Call/Delayed Ringing
  • Telephone Group Paging
  • Off-Hook Call Announce
  • Music/Messaging on Hold
  • Uniform Call Distribution
  • Call Record to Voice Mail

If you’re thinking that it’s time to upgrade your telecommunications platform but don’t want the cost and hassle of purchasing a new system, the VIPedge is the right choice. If you’re currently on Hosted/Managed IP platform and you’re just not feeling the love, the VIPedge is the obvious choice. Either way contact us at sales@selectteltech.com or call us at 815-282-5151 and we’ll get your telephone system in the cloud with your feet planted firmly on the ground.

 

This is a story of a customer who wanted to purchase phone systems for her organization. They were a non-profit which provided audiologists to the local public school districts. You had your office staff but you also had fifty technicians working in the field. Here’s the problem as we saw it:

  • The off-site employees needed to receive calls but not initiate calls
  • Calls were directed to them specifically. Since they dealt with scheduling, a receptionist would be of little help.
  • Employees needed to be notified in a timely manner but not necessarily immediately
  • Since they were a non-profit, the solution needed to be cost effective

After some brainstorming we decided that the best solution would to have DID, Direct in Dial numbers, ring to notification only voice mailboxes assigned to each offsite employee. The DID number would use the organization’s bank of telephone lines and give each off-site employee its specific ten digit telephone number. This satisfied the cost effective requirement as well as need to have calls be directed specifically to each employee. When a caller left a message in the notification only mailbox, the call processor would call the employee’s cell phone, prompt them to enter a security code and play the caller’s message. The employee could then return the call when their schedule allowed.

The result was a more productive customer with a staff responsive to it’s clients’ needs. They used technology to improve customer retention without adding headcount and that’s the moral to this story.

The short answer is neither. Having a qualified receptionist to answer incoming calls, transfer them to the appropriate extension and address questions and concerns is the best way to provide good customer service and foster client retention.

If for reasons beyond your control you can not have a full-time receptionist, you have a choice. Making an informed decision will affect how your customers perceive you and your business.

Let’s first look at Automated Attendant which is the application in a Call Processor that routes callers to an extension or group of extensions based on the digits entered by the dialer after the auto attendant answers. We have all heard, “If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it now;” or, “For the Sales Department, press three.”

The benefits of Automated Attendant are:

  • It’s relatively inexpensive. If you have Voice Mail you have Automated Attendant
  • It operates 24/7/365
  • It’s never in a bad mood
  • It can provide a wealth of information a receptionist may find tedious

These are all pretty impressive and need no additional discussion.

The weaknesses of an Automated Attendant are:

  • It’s impersonal
  • The more choices you give a caller, the more annoyed they become
  • It cannot answer questions or provide customer service without making the caller “guess” to whom they wish to speak

Remember, people don’t like talking to a machine. Keep the choices short and specific. It’s impossible to get all callers to the correct extensions 100% of the time. Make sure you have an exit strategy, usually by allowing callers to dial “0” which will send them to a live person who can guide them through the process. Make the technology enhance your Customer Service Department, not replace it.

Let’s now talk about Direct in Dialing also known as DID. DID is the ability to have a 10 digit phone number ring directly at an extension or group of extensions. It’s a function of your Carrier Service Provider and your telephone equipment. In other words, you need to pay for the service from you dial tone provider and your telephone hardware must be sophisticated enough to support DID.

The benefits of DID are:

  • Callers to whom you have given your DID number have direct access to you without receptionist or Automated Attendant intervention
  • Incoming traffic is redirected away from those extensions previously involved in transferring callers
  • A small company can give the allusion that they are much larger

The drawbacks of DID are:

  • There is cost involved if you need to upgrade your current telephone equipment to support DID
  • Once an unwanted caller has your DID number, there is no easy way to screen them

Depending on the size of your company, DID service may be less expensive than typical voice lines. If DID can be cost-effective, it should be considered. If you choose to implement an Automated Attendant solution, you can get very favorable results if it’s designed correctly. When designing any telephone system, think of the users; your customers. What is the most efficient and user-friendly way to get them to purchase your goods and services, resolve a problem or pay their bill? If you keep that in mind, the “Which is Better” argument becomes moot.

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