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Why a Business Phone Line Should Never Ring Busy

by Kevin Bartley

Busy signals are the fastest way to get a caller to hang up. This is how to avoid them entirely with a business VoIP phone system.

Everybody knows the sound of a busy signal, the annoying beep that all but tells a caller to hang up. Unfortunately, 34% of callers who hang up will not call back. That's all but certain to cost your business revenue.

These days, callers have neither the patience nor the attention span to sit and listen to a busy signal. They expect short wait times, a pleasant on-hold experience, and efficient service. A busy signal is the antithesis of the calling experience your customers would like to have. Thankfully, leading business phone systems have all but eliminated the busy signal.

VoIP Phone Lines: The Antidote to Busy Signals

For many decades, a "phone line" referred to a channel that could host one simultaneous call between two phones. Under this setup, a busy signal arises when someone calls a phone that already has its single line in use. This is still how many landline phones still operate today. A busy signal can occur when:

  • The called person is talking with another caller on the phone.
  • The called person is calling out.
  • Someone else called the number or is calling the number simultaneously.
  • The called phone was left off the hook or mishandled.

With the advent of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the definition of a "phone line" changed. Landline phones used literal lines, usually copper wiring, to enable calls. A single wire can handle a single call, hence the association of a "phone line" with one simultaneous call. However, VoIP is powered by broadband internet, and has no such physical restrictions placed on the number of simultaneous calls that can be placed.

On business VoIP phones, the capacity for simultaneous calls are much higher than with landline phones. A "line" on a VoIP phone can actually handle anywhere from 6 - 8 simultaneous calls. By this measure, a standard mid-range VoIP phone with four line keys could handle up to 32 simultaneous calls.

These additional call slots are helpful, because they keep your callers from getting shafted due to line limits. They also eliminate the need for busy signals, since your VoIP phone will have the capacity to answer simultaneous calls without experiencing "overloaded" lines.

Replace Busy Signals with Smart Business Phone Features

Business VoIP solutions offer features that expedite the waiting process and enhance the calling experience as customers wait for a representative. This allows your business to minimize dropped calls and keep callers engaged, even if nobody is currently available to answer the phone.

Play music to entertain callers waiting on hold

According to an AT&T study, customers left on hold for 30 seconds without any music thought the wait was 90 seconds long, while customers who listened to music for the same duration thought the wait was only 15 seconds long. The conclusions are clear: if you place customers on hold, it's much more enticing to play music in the background.

Music on Hold can be easily deployed for both individual users and call groups. Most services offer standard music streams such as jazz and classical, with upgrades that include access to thousands of custom streams. Alternatively, upload or record a custom message to offer information about your product or service while you have callers on the line. With OnSIP, customers can also take advantage of Video on Hold, where callers who initiate a video call online can watch custom content while waiting for a representative.

Ring multiple employees simultaneously to answer calls sooner

Perhaps you're busy on a call, but other members of your department are available to take the call for you. Ring groups enable these team-wide calling strategies. Ring groups direct calls to multiple people rather than a single phone. This setup ensures that calls are answered not based on any single employee's availability, but rather on the availability of the group.

Ring groups diminish waiting times for customers by notifying more people of incoming calls. In a simultaneous call group, all members in the group are notified at once, giving anyone the chance to pick up the phone. In a hunt group, members are called in a specified order, with each caller given a set window of time to answer the call before it moves on to the next phone. If nobody answers the call, calls can be configured to fail over to an external cell phone, voicemail box, or revert back to an automated menu.

Route calls more efficiently by queuing customers

Queues are configured to automatically distribute calls so that the caller who has waited the longest is matched with the next agent who becomes available. This matches callers with agents in the most efficient manner possible, thus minimizing wait times. Queues eliminate the need for a receptionist to route calls, saving your business money, and preventing human error from losing track of what call came in first.

Queues can also have rules such as maximum wait time, so during busy hours, callers are immediately routed to a voicemail box or secondary line, instead of being put on hold indefinitely. Queues can also play Music on Hold to keep callers occupied as they wait for service. Queues are great additions for departments that receive many inbound calls, such as customer support teams.

Encourage callers to leave a voicemail for urgent issues

If you know it's going to take a long time to answer calls, you can always have the incoming callers fail over to voicemail, instead of making them wait indefinitely on hold. If this is your strategy, make sure to record a voicemail greeting that's professional and courteous.

You might also want to give the caller an email (or some alternative contact information) so they can get in touch with you through a different channel. Convey to them that you'll return their calls in a timely manner. For tips on what to include in your voicemail greeting, check out our previous blogs:

Busy Signal is Last Thing You Need

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of a busy signal is the notion that you're "unavailable" to the customer. In a world of social media, email, and video calls, the busy signal is not just an annoying beeping noise. It's essentially a dead end for customers, and an invitation for them to contact one of your competitors.

It's hard enough to keep and grow your customer base. The last thing you need is for something so small and preventable as a busy signal to cost you business. Fortunately, there are business phone systems that completely bypass busy signals altogether. With simultaneous calling and features that ease wait times, your business could actually turn your on-hold experience into an advantage over your competitors.

Not sure your business needs an upgrade? On an average day, you might not experience the kind of call volume that will lead to a legion of busy signals. But during an unexpected emergency, your phone lines can get clogged, and you're definitely going to want a phone system that can route and handle calls with efficiency and intelligence. It's a smart strategy to have in place so that during critical times, you don't fail your customers.

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