Introducing automation to your organization’s phone system will either be one of the wisest decisions you’ve ever made, or a potential debacle, depending on how well you implement the following best practices.
Get Everyone Involved
Even though it’s tempting to program auto attendant, routing tree and the flow of your callcenter without soliciting input from the rest of your organization, doing so can potentially alienate your employees and prevent you from reaping the benefits of their unique perspectives and insights. No one understands your customer’s desires and the inner workings of your current phone system better than your ground-level employees, and without their input you will never create the best possible organizational system for your organization’s new telephony experience.
Gather information and opinions from your organization’s decision makers, from your sales & marketing staff, and from those employees who actually man your phone lines day-in and day-out. It’s also wise to consult your telephony solutions supplier too, as those professionals understand the nuts-and-bolts of what has worked, and what hasn’t, for many of their past clients.
How you automate your phone systems needs to reflect the big picture of your organization, it’s branding and its core message, but it’s also a practical technological system your employees will utilize every day- so make sure they have a say regarding how it works.
Keep Your Solution Simple
When you solicit EVERYONE’s opinion on how your phone system should work, you will invariably receive a massive list of solutions, suggestions, preferences and good ideas that looks very impressive, but which you could never implement as a whole. Attempting to please everyone, attempting to set up a single routing tree that incorporates everyone’s suggestions, will result in an unwieldy PBX phone system producing more problems than solutions.
Soliciting a wide range of opinions is only the first step in creating a great telephony system- the second involves simplifying all of the ideas you collected into an elegant, functional flow.
As a general rule of thumb, the simpler your routing tree, the better. The simpler your auto attendant configuration, the more intuitively your clients will navigate it. The fewer the levels your clients need to navigate to reach a real, live person, the happier your clients will be.
Always Jump to Live ASAP
You don’t need us to tell you clients tend to dislike automated phone systems. Even the simplest, most well designed automated telephony solution is nothing but a nuisance for your clients, and that’s why you need to make sure your phone system provides your clients with access to a live operator as quickly and as painlessly as possible, with as few levels of depth as possible.
The ideal PBX phone system will connect your callers with operators with only two to three levels of depth to navigate. This rule holds true even if your callers are looking for information, and aren’t aiming to talk with a representative.
Minimize Options to Simplify Your System
Even just two to three levels of depth within your automatic attendant’s routing tree will frustrate and confuse your callers if each level has too many options to choose from. As a general rule, your callers should never have to select from more than a half dozen options at any level of your system, and overall the fewer options you offer you callers the better.
Finding the right balance between levels of depth and numbers of options per level can seem impossible at times. Yet, with careful and intelligent planning, and with an eye towards consolidation and only providing your clients with exactly what they need to proceed, you won’t have a very difficult time creating an elegant automated flow.
When to Deploy Telephony Automation
As previously mentioned, as far as your callers are concerned the best automated phone system is the one that instantly provides live response. In an ideal world all of your clients will find their calls immediately picked up by a live operator or receptionist and they will never have to deal with a program, no matter how sophisticated it is.
Unfortunately this ideal world doesn’t exist for most organizations. Most organizations simply can’t afford to hire a full-time callcenter staff. To best meet the needs of their clients, most organizations need to employ some form of auto attendant often complemented by IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology.
Most organizations will also find times during their working hours where their support staff simply won’t be able to handle all of the incoming calls they receive. The number of calls any organization receives may follow roughly predictable timelines, but every phone staff faces moments of unpredictably intense activity they simply aren’t prepared to handle. During these times having your PBX programmed to pick up and queue excess calls is an absolute necessity to make sure your clients are kept in the loop.
While your clients may not love automated systems, an auto attendant program represents a viable option to ensure the smoothest possible call flow at all times. With an eye towards simplicity, your system will connect your clients with your staff as seamlessly and painlessly as possible.