Before we move on to consider personal calling services, let’s spend a few moments considering “hunting”. Hunting is simply the way in which a call can be distributed between a number of alternative end points. This means that, for example, a call can be made to a number and the software behind the call processing tries a defined set of numbers in a sequence.
Let’s imagine that a sales office within a company has six members within the team. They can be reached via the main number, or they might have a dedicated main number that reaches that team directly, bypassing the attendant. The individual numbers of each member of the team are linked as a group, so that the sales number can be routed to any of the extensions. But how do we choose between them?
The simplest way is to have the phones ring in a predefined order. Thus, for example, a call to a sales office may try each of the available extensions in turn until one is found to be free and the call gets answered. The call can then be dealt with properly, rather than simply being lost or diverted to voicemail. This is important, not just in a sales organisation but in any office where employees share interests and tasks.
The order in which different extensions are called can be managed in a variety of ways, for example:
• Parallel hunting
• Sequential hunting
These are largely self-explanatory – either all phones can ring at once, or they can ring in a sequence. But what if all calls end up being answered by the same individual? To meet this occasion, there are special variants that can be deployed, such as:
• Least recently used
• Rotating head
These variants take into account the frequency with which a particular individual may have taken calls, or automatically moves the available members up and down a queue, so that the one at the top moves to the end after each call. There are other variants too, but the key point is that calls can be distributed to match the resources available in the organisation. We also could talk about skills-based routing, but that’s for a future article.
It may seem that hunting is really a feature for larger organisations, in which there are teams with multiple members. But that’s not really true. SMEs can leverage hunting capabilities too. Imagine a case where there is a partnership of plumbers. There may not even be an attendant in the office, but the partnership doesn’t want to miss any calls, as all represent potential business opportunities – and, they tend to come at all hours. Each member of the partnership could be part of a simple hunt group. Incoming calls try first one of the available numbers and then another, until it is answered. If none of the team is available, voicemail can be available as a fallback, but as each employee is treated as a member of the team, the chances of someone being available are dramatically increased.
It’s often said that one of the advantages of Mobile PBX and IP Centrex solutions is that small companies can obtain big company capabilities without the significant investment that this would once have required. This is undoubtedly true. Features such as hunting benefit any team and service providers can ensure that their service package is attractive by including such capabilities. And, the ability to offer different hunting options to suit the requirements of businesses can be built in. By choosing service templates that include hunting, the service provider can offer services that can be configured by users – and ensure that the benefits of such capabilities are recognised by potential subscribers.
So, if the target customer base includes enterprises and SMEs of different sizes, including companies with only a handful of employees, it should be simple to demonstrate the value of features that are available. And, of course, the service provider can continue to innovate and launch new services optimised for different segments. Hunting is simple and powerful and benefits enterprises of all sizes. Make sure your offer includes the flexibility to meet the needs of all potential customers.