Over the last year, business phone systems have been stretched beyond what businesses had installed them for, and mobiles have played a huge part in enabling working from home for millions of people. But despite their ubiquitous presence in business, it’s valid to ask if a mobile phone is ‘the right tool for the job’? Mobiles are one-to-one devices good at handling calls between people.
That’s ideal for a sole-trader or small business, but the implication behind the advertisement of a ‘07’ contact number is that the business is small (and with no fixed abode?). If the perception is that there is no method – or no need – to route calls to departments in a business, then the customer impression is that the business only has a single point of contact.
Mobile call handling is basic … Unanswered calls have little option but to go to voicemail. Calls to your colleagues may be covered by a call plan, but they still cost. And remember, if you use your mobile for work and personal calls, it’s difficult to split them and account for the business costs.
In comparison, business phone systems (a VoIP PBX), enable person-to-person calls, but will also allow customers to call a specific business ‘department’ (Sales, Accounts, Customer services, etc.). The ‘landline’ numbers advertised by the business imply ‘permanence’ and show customers that there are routes into specific parts of the business. They also show that there are multiple ways to get answers to any query.
Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers can give customers direct access to their account manager, but there are many ways that the call can be handled – and the caller satisfied – if that account manager is not available.
IP-PBX systems have a comprehensive feature set when it comes to routing calls both during and outside of business hours. That feature set (based around ‘call groups’, ‘call queues’, and ‘IVR’), makes it highly likely that a customer call will be answered. PBX systems make it easy to transfer a call to another person or department to assist a customer too.
Modern VoIP systems make it easy to set up home or mobile users. Calls to those ‘remote users’ are truly free of charge, as they use the Internet to carry the call.
Diverting calls from Business Phone Systems to Mobiles
COVID-19 lockdowns have prompted many companies to simply divert calls from business phone systems, off to mobiles. However, there are costs and issues associated with doing this:
- A diverted call is charged to you – and charged at expensive landline to mobile rates! This means that it costs you to take a call from a customer.
- Unless your equipment and comms supplier can manage it, calls that divert to a mobile may only show your own business phone number – making it difficult to get call-back info for your customer records.
- Diverted calls can end up in mobile voicemail. And that leads to questions about who has the customer voicemails. The call handling is basic due to the call divert by-passing any call groups, queues, or Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
- Calls can’t be transferred off to colleagues, so callers may be told to ring back on other numbers.
- Outbound calls must be made using the mobile, and expense claims for ‘business calls’ can be difficult to reconcile.
Does this mean that mobile devices shouldn’t be used for business? Of course not. The solution, however, is to make the mobile device an active part of the VoIP telephone system.
Business Phone Systems: the techie bit!
VoIP apps are available either as stand-alone applications – or are software add-ons to systems provided by IP-PBX suppliers. Examples of this are our 3CX application and Yeastar’s Linkus.
These VoIP apps are free and available as downloads from the Apple and Android application stores. Licenses for their use are included in the pricing for 3CX and Yeastar and they will work alongside your cellphone call handling app without interfering with the cellular service. A VoIP app’ is configured from an email by running an attached file, copy-&-paste of a script, or scanning a QR code – so deployment is quick and easy.
The app works as a second appearance of your extension phone at your business, and therefore, rings depending on the ‘rules’ applied to that extension i.e. it rings for incoming calls to its Direct Dial Inward (DDI) number, and/or calls to groups & queues that the extension is a member of. Outbound calls from the app’ will show the business number rather than the mobile number and use trunk lines on the company phone system to make outbound calls. Calls to other users (internal extensions) in your business are free of charge, as the Internet is used to carry the call. This applies at any location, even during international travel – making this a perfect home-office or road-warrior solution.
VoIP apps route calls through the Internet using private or public Wi-Fi – or 4G/5G mobile data services when Wi-Fi isn’t available. VoIP calls require low bandwidth so the impact on a mobile data allowance is minimal. The app will look up the company PBX phone directory, as well as your own mobile’s contact list allowing you to access all of your customer directory info to make a call.
The IP-PBX can be configured to allow fall-back diversion of an incoming call to your mobile number if a call can’t be routed to you through the Internet. Utilities in the app’s, such as ‘Presence’ and ‘Availability’, allow you to see the status of other extensions on your phone system (‘are they free to take my call?’), and allow you to switch to pre-set call handling routines for situations like holidays and business meetings.
A VoIP app’ will enable an employee’s mobile device to become a fully functioning part of your business telecommunications without any of the hassles associated with managing a ‘Bring Your Own Device‘ strategy.
What does this all mean for Business Phone Systems?
The form and function of mobile devices may change (as they seem to follow popular Sci-Fi movie trends), but personal communications are not going away. VoIP apps will allow a mobile device to split its phone personalities between personal and business applications. VoIP apps allow rapid, flexible, low-cost deployment of business phone numbers, and inclusion of staff in IVR and group/queue call-flow to minimise a customer’s effort to get the service they need from your company.
VoIP apps will have a significant impact on reducing call costs. Users will be able to connect to public or private Wi-Fi services and make calls back into their business free of charge, from anywhere in the world! International calls made back into their home country will be charged at the outbound ‘local’ call rate associated with the VoIP carrier service being used by the company IP-PBX.
Mobile or home users will be part of the call-flow strategy configured on the company IP-PBX and therefore specialist departments such as help desks and customer support can still be operated as call queues or ring groups, where the first available staff member can take the inquiry.
Customers can call your business and be connected to the person who is best suited to assist them, no matter where your staff are working at the time.
On the 23rd June 2021 mobile operator O2 announced that it would be reinstating ‘roaming’ charges for data usage while UK users travel around Europe. This illustrates the value of a VoIP app’ that uses Wi-Fi and the Internet to bypass cellular networks …
Contact us to talk about business phone systems, how you can get more from your mobile devices, and safely extend customer call handling beyond your office walls.