Nobody wants an office phone system that can't keep up. The signs start with minor irritations, but eventually graduate to issues that affect business operations. Phones ringing off the hook, confusion as to who's answering which call, customer complaints about call quality issues, full voicemail boxes, and other frustrating problems can all indicate that your phone system has reached its limits.
Phone systems that can't keep up create problems beyond dropped calls and confusing menu options. They can actually harm your business and erase revenue from your bottom line. It's hard enough to get customers on the line, and you certainly don't need your phone system complicating that process.
But what are the telltale signs that your phone system isn't capable? Here are the five biggest signs that your office phone system can't keep up with your business.
Poor Call Quality
Your customers and employees shouldn't have to deal with poor call quality, such as jumbled audio, frequent static, voice delays, or calls that drop unexpectedly. This disrupts communications not just with customers, but within your own organization as well. According to BT Business, 85% of callers who can't reach a company on the first try won't call back. There's a strong chance you could lose business if your employees are unable to connect with customers within this small window of opportunity.
Only you can decide how important call quality is to your customer service reputation. Some consumer VoIP solutions offer free service that may be sufficient for the most basic calling operations. But when you're paying for a business phone system, you shouldn't have to deal with poor call quality.
Of course, there can be explanations for poor call quality that don't involve your phone provider, such as router or ISP problems. However, if your phone provider is to blame, you may want to consider switching to a new service.
Call Routing Issues
Limited call routing options can make your phone tree frustrating and cumbersome to navigate. Leading your callers through an endless maze of menus, requiring them to enter several different digit combinations, or putting them on hold for long periods of time can easily frustrate them. This can cause callers to hang up and call one of your competitors.
Your office phone system should allow you to deploy and customize call routing features that make your business's calling experience simple. For example, a simple rule to route callers based on business hours can save after-hours callers time by immediately offering them the option to leave a voicemail message. Or even just having a maximum on-hold time before going to a failover destination can give callers an indication that you value their time.
These building blocks will allow you to create a phone tree that's easy for your customers to navigate, keeping them from getting lost, and hanging up.
No Geographic Flexibility
According to the New York Times, 43% of American workers reported having to work from home in 2016. That's over 2 out every 5 workers in the US. With these figures, your phone system should be equipped to handle remote working. A phone system with geographic flexibility gives your employees the ability to work from home, on vacation, during sick days, or for any other reason that might take them away from the office.
If your phone system ties you to a physical location, you're creating a scenario where either your employees can't work remotely, or your employees can work remotely with their own cellphones or other devices. But a phone system with geographic flexibility keeps all of your employees' work calls under a single bill.
That way you can log minutes, and avoid paying to reimburse employee cellphone bills, which can cut into your bottom line. Your employees can also use free softphones or webphones while working remotely on both computers and cellphones, cutting back equipment costs. In an emergency that affects your office, remote workings allows your business to continue operating without interruption.
Difficult to Scale
Phone systems that aren't easily scalable can make it harder for businesses to grow. Some phone systems require you to install a physical wire in the wall to activate each of your phones. In-house PBXes might force you to hire IT technicians to come in and add new users manually. These processes are costly and time consuming. Businesses that expect constant growth shouldn't be hindered by archaic phone systems.
A hosted phone system that scales well can add new users and new locations within a matter of minutes or hours. This allows an admin user to easily add new employees to the phone system, and even add new locations as the business grows. Cloud phone systems allow you to make real-time changes to your deployment, so new employees can get up and running right away.
Limited Call Functionality
Call functionality is an important user experience for both your customers and your employees. For customers, call functionality is expressed not just by mute, hold, and other basic call handling features. The issue arises at every point in the phone tree. For instance, are callers given an option to re-hear auto attendant options? Or is there the option to return to the prior menu?
Call functionality doesn't just encompass what a caller can do during a call. It also pertains to what happens to the customer during a call. When you send a customer to a queue, is the customer met with music on hold, or do they wait and listen in silence? According to an AT&T survey, customers who listened to hold music thought a 30-second wait lasted just 15 seconds, while those who listened to silence thought the same wait lasted 90 seconds. A phone system with limited capabilities might not even be able to offer these small conveniences.
Your employees can also suffer from limited call functionality. Conference calls with low per person caps can truncate team meetings. The absence of voicemail can add inefficiency to your team. And limitations placed on landline phone systems can seriously diminish the number of phone lines your employees can have.
Don't Let Your Phone System Bring You Down
The issues identified in this post are some of the pressing signs that your current phone system can't keep up with your business. In fact, these same issues may be placing unintentional obstacles in front of your customers. It's hard enough to win business, but it's made even harder when unforced errors happen with your office phone system.
You'd like to compete with your competitors on the merits of your product. But when your business phone system is lackadaisical, you're potentially giving your competition a subtle but not insignificant advantage that has nothing to do with the quality of your product. In a way, if your phone system can't keep up, then your business can't keep up, and that's when you might want to consider other options.