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admin | Category: Reverse Lookup Free | 06.02.2015
Given the importance of online channels in today’s economy, small businesses may treat phone system programming as an afterthought rather than a matter of strategy. We surveyed consumers about their phone interactions with small businesses to identify which factors create negative or positive feelings about a brand. This report uses this data, along with insights from experts on business phone systems, to offer tips on optimizing the design of your small business phone system for customers. Caller ID issues are the top problem with receiving inbound calls from small businesses: 28 percent of our sample cites problems with unrecognizable phone numbers. Routing calls to the wrong employees and consistent busy signals are the two top issues with making calls to small businesses, cited by 16 percent of our sample each. Millennials whose brand perceptions are negatively influenced by phone interactions say the top issue is employees taking too long to find customer information (32 percent).
Twenty-eight percent of respondents whose brand perceptions are negatively influenced by phone interactions cite the inability to reach employees by name as the top issue.
Twenty-two percent of respondents whose brand perceptions are positively influenced by phone interactions say the auto attendant greeting is the most influential factor. Your small business phone system isn’t only a crucial link to your customers—it’s also an opportunity to build positive impressions of your brand.
Cameron Weeks, CEO of Fathom Voice (a provider of cloud phone system and call center solutions), describes the importance of using your phone system as a branding opportunity.
Now, let’s look at some specific ways in which phone system usage and design factors can either build or harm your small business’s brand.
Overall, the respondents in our sample have more issues with receiving calls from small businesses than with making calls to them. Nearly one-third of the respondents in our sample have issues recognizing the phone numbers and caller ID names of small businesses. Jonathon Moody, chief operating officer at Versature (a provider of cloud-based phone systems), explains that VoIP providers can help businesses “brand” caller ID information for outbound calls.
As Moody explains, voicemail transcription doesn’t just make voice messages easier to access. Even if you don’t have a CRM system in place, voicemail transcription can still be a major time-saver, since reading a transcription often takes much less time than listening to a voice message. The top pain points with inbound interactions are all somewhat related: consumers experience difficulty finding an employee in the right role to address an issue, reaching a specific employee and getting frequent busy signals. Call queues, in particular, can solve some of your routing headaches—especially when you employ an approach to routing known as a waterfall call flow.
The basic idea is that even though someone in accounts payable and receivable may not want to field a support call, the call will at least get answered, and the caller’s information can be recorded to resolve the issue down the road. You can implement this routing flow by setting up options for support, sales and other departments in your auto attendant (the voice menu that directs inbound callers). Proper configuration also means scheduling your auto attendant to ensure the best possible experience for callers, regardless of when they’re attempting to reach you.
In other words, even when you or your employees are working from home, your auto attendant can still deliver your calls in order to create a consistent experience for customers.
If you want to ensure calls are getting to the most motivated employee, you can employ a basic PBX feature known as a “hunt group,” which sends a call to a group of employees rather than a single person.


The most striking trend we can observe in the above charts is consumer frustration with not being able to reach the employees they want by name. A dial-by-name directory allows a caller to reach the employee they need by entering the first few letters of the employee’s first or last name on their keypad or even by voice response with some systems. The other striking trend the above charts reveal is increasing demand among younger consumers for speedy retrieval of customer information. You may think your phone system doesn’t have much to do with how you store or use customer information. Very important for this purpose is a technology known as computer telephony integration or CTI, which allows your phone system to integrate in real-time with the other software systems you rely on. Generally, CTI refers to integrations that populate a user’s screen with information about an inbound caller pulled from the CRM database (thus, the term “screen pops” is another name for CTI). But what if you can’t afford a CRM system, or don’t yet see a need for software that specifically manages customer interactions? Such integrations might seem like overkill for your small business, but as Weeks observes, “Everyone is expected to be able to do these integrations, and you’re expected to do them better the smaller you are. Companies such as Versature and Facebook have been developing another way to find customer information rapidly with your phone system: social caller ID. Moody notes that this functionality can serve as a substitute for a true CRM system in smaller organizations.
We’ve already taken a look at how poor phone system design and usage creates negative brand perceptions.
It seems younger consumers appreciate the “personal touches” a business puts into configuring its phone system, especially when it comes to employees’ customized voicemail greetings. The phone system is a critical area where you can direct this kind of messaging at your customers.
This is one reason you may want to explore professional voice recordings for your auto attendant, a service offered by a number of small-business VoIP providers. Vanity numbers are also quite popular among our respondents, though you need to think critically about whether or not you want to utilize a toll-free number for outbound calls. We’ve interviewed neuroscientists to show that vanity numbers can have positive effects on your customers’ ability to remember your number. We’ve seen throughout this report that your phone system can be a crucial tool for building your brand—if properly configured and designed.
Use voicemail transcription and voicemail-to-email to make sure customers’ messages don’t slip through the cracks. Schedule your auto attendant and your call routing flows based on the time of day to deliver the most consistent experience possible to your customers. Use hunt groups to ensure calls are answered by the most motivated employee on your sales team. Use a professional voice recording service for your auto attendant to ensure a consistent tone throughout the system.
But to gain a competitive edge, you must ensure the best experience possible across all the channels your business uses to reach customers. Thankfully, VoIP has made it much easier to manage how outbound calls show up in caller ID.


This is a substantial problem, as it has the potential to erode customers’ trust in your small business’s reliability.
It can also help improve business workflows, when used in tandem with a CRM system with contact management capabilities or a trouble-ticket system. Voicemail-to-email can also help keep employees accountable: They’ll have to confess to ignoring their inboxes along with their voicemail if they fail to return calls. To solve these problems, you’ll need to begin thinking critically about your overall approach to call routing. The odds are that someone there, hopefully starting with the most useful employee and ending with the least useful, gets to answer that call,” Moody explains. As Charlesworth notes, businesses should think beyond simple time-of-day based messaging to time-of-day based call routing.
This issue can be solved by adding a standard feature known as a dial-by-name directory to your auto attendant menu. Ultimately, your decision to use a dial-by-name directory should be guided by the industry you’re working in.
While respondents over age 34 don’t place as much emphasis on the speed of customer service, millennials have come of age in a world of always-on, real-time communications, and they expect the same from your support team. But effective phone system usage can help your staff retrieve customer information almost immediately. The answer, Fathom Voice’s Weeks observes, is to integrate the phone system with your online accounting system rather than your CRM software.
This technology uses inbound caller ID information to help you learn more about your customers.
It allows employees to get more information about inbound callers in order to personalize interactions, even if they don’t have a CRM database to pull the customer information from. Millennials select this as the top factor affecting their brand perceptions at double the rate of older respondents.
In particular, auto attendant and voicemail greetings have an important influence on customers’ feelings about your company. However, unless your business handles a relatively high volume of inbound calls, they might not make sense for your needs. Poor use of your phone system can weaken your customers’ trust in your company’s ability to deliver quality products and services. This is because transcribed voicemails can be entered into the CRM or ticketing system to help sales or support staff manage customer interactions. Business phone systems now offer functionality such as voicemail-to-email—which sends voice messages as email attachments—and voicemail transcription.



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