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What Is Call Parking?

by Margaret Joy

Call parking is a method of putting someone on hold in the cloud so anyone in your organization can take the call.

Using a VoIP provider like OnSIP opens up a plethora of phone-related features that can take you far beyond your regular old phone system. If you’re new to VoIP, then you probably feel as though you’re up to your eyeballs in unfamiliar terminology. We bet “call parking” is one of them.

Call Parking: A Better Way to Go on Hold

In a nutshell, parking a call puts someone on hold in a way that allows anyone in your organization to take the call. The old way of putting someone on hold was far more limited. The caller on hold was tied to the callee, which meant that only the person who put someone on hold could take them off. And of course, there’s the old hold-transfer combo, where someone puts a caller on hold and then transfers them to someone else. The call park feature essentially combines both things into one.

There are other benefits, too. Once a call is parked, you’re free to make and receive calls without worrying about the person who’s parked. It’s also possible to park multiple calls, unlike regular old phone systems that can only have one call on hold at a time.

When you park a call, the call gets punted to your company’s cloud and is assigned its own extension. Think of “the cloud” as a private valet for only your office’s callers, with your employees acting as the valets. Your customers bring their calls, your valets park those calls and then another employee can just go pick up the call when it’s ready. All they need are the keys, right? That’s what the extension is. Anyone with the extension can pick up the call.

Traditionally, transferring a call meant remembering every employee’s extension. With call parking, you don’t have to memorize everyone’s extensions—just the extension of the parking lot. That means no botched transfers, no accidental hang-ups, and no waiting forever to talk to someone.

Here's an example of how parking works: Say someone calls and needs to talk to the manager. If the manager is at his desk, you just transfer the call, but today he’s walking around somewhere in the store. Rather than running around trying to find him, you can park the call and announce over the intercom that the manager has a call at “xxxx” extension.

When you set up call parking with OnSIP you can choose the 4-digit extension you can use to retrieve parked calls. There’s theoretically no limit to the number of calls you can park. (More on this below.)

But wait, what happens if you have multiple parked calls? In that case, think of the extension as access to a parking lot, where each call has its own parking spot. You’ll use the extension first, and then dial the spot number for the parked call you want to retrieve. For example, the call in the first spot is 1, the second spot is 2, etc.

Now, this isn’t to say that the traditional transfer is dead and gone. If you already know who you should transfer the call to, then transfer away. If you’re not positive the person is at their desk, then do an attended transfer to check.

Picture of a phone headset on top of a laptop keyboard.
With the parking feature, you won't miss a call if you're away from your desk.

Why Use the Call Park Feature?

The parking feature comes in handy when you know someone is away from her VoIP phone or if you just want the first available person to step in.

Maybe you don’t know the extension of the person who needs to hop on the call. Perhaps you need to get to someone on a different floor or in an office on the other side of the country. Regardless of the situation, parking the call means the caller won’t get dropped or immediately pushed to voicemail if the person you’re transferring them to happens to be away.

Parking adds versatility to your office’s toolkit. Say you need to escalate something to your boss, but they’re busy at lunch or in a meeting. You can park the call and simply message them the extension to pick up as soon as they can. No need to call them or confirm that they’re busy.

Or let’s say the manager is on the go. Maybe they’re with a client at an outside facility. Transferring the call to their office would be useless since they’re not in the office. You can park the call, message them the extension and then let them pick up the call from wherever they are on whatever device they have available.

You can probably guess why parking a call is profoundly useful in departments like sales or support – it likely doesn’t matter exactly who picks up the call, so the first available person can dial the parked extension.

What if the Call is Parked Forever?

You can set your system to ring back the call after a predetermined period. That means that after “x” minutes, the system transfers the parked call back to the person who parked it in the first place. Some systems also have the option to send the parked call to voicemail at this point. Ideally, the call gets picked up, but in case it’s not, voicemail is a better option than leaving your caller on hold indefinitely.

Pro Tip: Be sure to clearly communicate with the caller so they know what’s happening. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting passed around or left on hold with no sense of what’s happening and why.

Picture of a businessman touching his smartphone.
OnSIP's call parking feature lets any employee pick up the call—no matter their location or device at hand.

Call Parking with OnSIP

This call holding ability is a standard feature these days, but every VoIP provider has its own approach to configuration. Some have limits on the number of calls that can be simultaneously parked (usually 50). Some have a set time-limit on parked calls. Some only let a parked call go to voicemail or ring back when time expires. With some, only system desk phones can answer, or you have to set up a separate ring group, the members of which are the only people in the network who can access parked calls.

OnSIP’s Unlimited plan has unlimited parking features included, and it’s available a la carte with the per-minute plan.

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With OnSIP’s parking feature, you choose how long you want your call to wait in the parking lot and where it goes if time expires. It can go to voicemail, the attendant menu, an external cell phone not in the system, or even ring back to the person who initially parked the call.

Learn more about OnSIP’s Parking Lot and how to customize your call park features in our Knowledgebase.

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