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Your customer’s are listening - How a smart phone system can improve your customer experience

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We've all been stuck in an automated telephone system, in a battle against the machine that sometimes seems to be designed specifically to keep us from getting to our required destination. While that almost certainly wasn't the intent of the business, poorly configured and managed business phone systems can leave callers with a bad taste in their mouth. These systems are not smart. But what if the business phone system could be smart? And businesses knew as much about their callers experience as they did about their website visitors?

Businesses spend millions perfecting their web presence, from expensive UX design, to SEO and SEM. A company’s website is smart. It’s able to tell the business about their customer’s experience. Where they came from, what pages they visited, how long they stayed and what resulted from their visit.

For businesses interested in improving their customers “phone experiences” a smart phone system is the way to go.

How do I know if I have a dumb phone system?


Call Yourself
The best way to test your customer’s “phone experience” is to call and secret shop yourself. Come up with a list of your most important calling audiences and call in on their behalf. Is that the experience you wish for your prospects, vendors, customers etc?  Don’t forget to call at different times of day and specifically outside business hours. This experience is often an afterthought with many phone system implementations but it’s as critical as your daytime experience if not more so. Use the “Creating a Smart Phone System” tips below to evaluate your experience.  Find out what you’re dealing with.  Collect as much data from your phones system as you have available for a given period of time. Answer the following questions:

  1. How many calls do you make by what departments during what hours?
  2. How many calls do you receive by what department during what hours?
  3. How many calls are answered live by a human?
  4. What percentages of calls to your company end up in a voicemail box?
  5. How long does it take your employees on average to check their VM and return calls?
  6. How long on average does a caller spend on hold, listening to prompts, or waiting?
  7. Are there distinct spots in the phones system where callers ultimately give up and hang up never reaching anyone?

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How do I create a smart phone system?


Prepare, prepare, prepare
Make a list of all of the potential callers to your business and the reasons they are likely to be calling. Then spend as much time as possible with the various department heads and stakeholders mapping out the call flow. Investing in this step will pay dividends down the road.

Less is more
You may be tempted to give your callers a long list of options as a way to get them to their destination. If your business has many functions and calling audiences consider multiple dial in numbers. Keep each line simple and tailored to its purpose instead of trying to serve everyone on a single line. Trying to do too many things just gives the callers more places that they can get lost along the way. Really think about what options should be available and who is calling in. Callers will generally cease listening after approximately 3 options, 5 should be the absolute max. Keep your scripts short and avoid any technical jargon. Make sure the menu automatically repeats at least once in case they miss it the first time.

Do what you say
Doing what you say you will do is a powerful way to build trust with your customers and this practice should include your phones system. If your script says please hold while we transfer you to the next available representative make sure they don’t end up in a voicemail box. Either adjust the script or change the call flow.

Be consistent
Surprisingly many phone system prompts are recorded in different voices and use different prompts. This is basic phone system hygiene and it reflects poorly on your business from the get go.  Designate a single person to record your prompts and don’t allow others to “fill in”. Better yet, hire a professional voice over company to record your prompts for you. Also remember to be consistent in your options.  If "#" repeats the main menu, make sure you don’t use "#" to get to an operator in a later menu.

What you measure improves – Having critical data is Smart.

  • How many calls do your individual sales representatives make on a daily basis? Do the sales people and their manager have this information at his/her fingertips? Is the information automatically logged into your CRM?
  • How many calls do your service teams receive in a day and on average how long do their calls take? Are their call backs tracked and every single call recorded in your ticketing system with notes?
  • How many calls are answered by a human in a given day? Who answers the majority of your inbound calls? How are they doing with those interactions? Are tehyy recorded and scored by a manager?
  • What percentages of calls to your company end up in a voicemail box?
  • How long does it take your employees on average to check their VM and return calls?
  • How long on average does a caller spend on hold, listening to prompts, or waiting?
  • Are there distinct spots in the phones system where callers ultimately give up and hang up never reaching anyone?

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Improving your customer experience isn't difficult, but like every other important aspect of business, it does require some time and attention. If you'd like more information about how tools like our graphical call flow editor can help, just let us know.