Mobile and IP Centrex Service Strategies: Templates for Success Part 3 – The Main Number Advantage

As we discussed in a recent article, the company main number is a key asset for any enterprise. The majority of inbound calls will be directed to this number and it’s essential that calls are handled efficiently and correctly.

Of course, there are many ways in which this can take place. Calls can be answered by one or more attendants. They can be held in a queue, with appropriate announcements being played; they can be directed to voicemail or there can be automated handling through some kind of IVR with prompt-driven menus directing callers to specific departments. There may be a need to initiate a callback for someone who has been held in a queue for more than a specified time period, or simply to present this as an option for callers to select if they choose.

In most cases, it’s likely to be a combination of all of the above. The number of calls that can be processed is really a function of the available inbound capacity and the number of attendants available. If there is only one attendant and capacity for more than one incoming call, any calls that are received while the attendant is talking to a caller need to be dealt with effectively.

How this takes place can be critical. Of course, people understand that, while their calls are important, they may not be answered immediately, but the manner in which they have to wait can create strong perceptions about the company. It’s essential to plan for all cases and needs. It’s absolutely essential to ensure that these moments of truth are not wasted.

A large enterprise may have many attendants or personnel available to handle incoming calls and therefore may be able to present more options to callers. SMEs may not have that luxury but equally no-one has the luxury of losing potential business because of unanswered calls. That’s why a flexible service strategy that is tailored to the needs of different categories of businesses is so important.

Small enterprises may be more reliant on auto-attendant functions than larger ones. They may have more constrained or flexible office hours. The number of people within the organisation to which calls can be directed is, obviously, fewer. What happens to calls when the office is closed? What happens to calls that are unanswered?

Conversely, larger organisation may receive more calls and may need more complex call handling to ensure that the call is directed to the appropriate attendant. Are there departments to choose from? How many calls can be held in a queue and for how long? In what order should they be answered? It may seem clear that it should be in the order in which they arrived, but in fact this isn’t necessarily the case: some callers may have priority and may need attention sooner rather than later.

All of this means that there isn’t a “one size fits all” main number strategy for a virtual or mobile PBX service. You need all the elements to be in place – call handling, queuing, auto-attendant, IVR menus, audio for on-hold or queue recordings, time and date options for office hours, etc., but the way in which these are assembled or activated can be very different.

That’s why we offer different main number strategy templates, each of which is optimised for the needs of particular businesses. Each strategy consists of linked functional elements, which determine how calls are handled for different scenarios. Each element describes a particular function, such as IVR, Auto-Attendant, Connect to Attendant, Time of Day criteria, etc. The way in which these are connected controls how the call is handled and the ways in which this can be managed according to different circumstances.

So, a strategy can stipulate that all calls are handled by an attendant but if the attendant is busy, they will be held in a queue with music on-hold or other announcements. You can even introduce the option to offer call-backs to callers, allowing them to hang up and await a call from the office. The strategy can also include opening hours, so that calls can be treated differently during closed periods.

Our service provider customers choose the service strategy they want to deploy and offer to particular customer segments. A strategy for SoHo users may simply play an announcement and drop calls into voice mail when the main incoming number is busy, but larger organisations may have much richer options for handling incoming calls to their main number.

What’s more, with access to the Easy Designer, existing strategies can be customised to ensure that the service provider continues to offer innovative and competition-leading services.

And, this kind of inbound main number call handling may be something that many SMEs may have considered, but may not have pursued as they may have considered the costs of traditional, premises-based solutions prohibitive. Virtual or Mobile PaBX solutions remove the capital expenditure requirements and allow enterprises of all sizes to leverage advanced business services, ensuring that even the smallest SoHo can benefit from efficiency gains.

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