With the advent of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology approximately 20 years ago, small businesses suddenly had the opportunity to use highly sophisticated phone systems that put them on par with Fortune 500 corporations. Prior to VoIP coming on the scene, small business owners simply could not afford the technology required to own and operate a high-tech phone system (Source: http://askideacom.com/). Despite quickly seeing the convenience of utilizing phone services over the Internet, some small business owners have yet to utilize all of the technology they have at their fingertips.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Call Queues
The ability to send voicemails to a business computer as an email provides users the opportunity to preserve the message online. This was one of the first features that small businesses took advantage of when getting on board with VoIP. However, IVR and call queues are what really leveled the playing field between major corporations and companies with just a few employees. These features allow companies to screen a customer’s call and reroute it to the person most qualified to answer help. If waiting for someone to answer a question or close a deal increases the time customer’s hold time, call queue technology gives him or her the option of requesting a call back when that person is available to speak.
Additional Options That Are Easy for Callers to Use
In this age of multitasking, no one likes to sit on hold any longer than necessary. If the wait gets to be more than a few minutes, many callers feel they are wasting their time and may start to feel resentful. The key for small business owners to prevent customers from forming a negative opinion about their company is to provide them with options while they are on hold. Some of these choices may include:
- Instant messaging
- Choice of on-hold music
- Video messaging
- The ability to reach someone by name or telephone number
- Unified messaging
- Conference calling
The best way to coach employees on how to speak to current or potential customers and clients is to hear what they actually say. VoIP gives managers the ability to record and listen to any employee’s telephone conversations without him or her being aware of it. Such a feature means that managers and supervisors can use specific examples when speaking to employees about what they do well and what they could improve upon.
Find or Follow Me Call Routing
Workers who are frequently out of the office, such as direct service technicians and those who frequently travel for business, are the most likely to benefit from this feature. When setting it up, the employee enters a list of telephone numbers where callers may be able to track him or her down. The call is routed to every number on the list before going to voicemail. This saves time and frustration that often comes from playing phone tag.
Advanced Call Screening
While cell phones give users the ability to reject incoming calls, VoIP takes it one step further. When the name and telephone number of the caller display on the computer screen, the user can answer it, disconnect from unwanted telemarketing calls, or send the call to another phone.