Sometimes a situation arises where your business needs to cease regular operations and deal with an emergency. This may be the result of a natural disaster, a financial setback, personal issues, or other events. While it may not be at the top of your to-do list, updating your business phone system can help your customers and stakeholders understand that things will not be “business-as-usual” for a while.
From setting up call forwarding rules to updating your business hours, here are six ways you can help inform and direct callers during a business emergency.
1. Upload Announcements
The best way to inform your callers of your current situation is to record and upload an announcement that will automatically play when they call your main line. Use this message to let callers know that you will be unavailable and provide alternative ways of contacting your business. You can also include your personal phone number, or let callers know how else to reach you in case of an emergency.
If you previously uploaded an announcement for your business hours, you can either replace it with your new recording or remove the option from your auto attendant menu.
If you are an OnSIP customer, you can log in to the OnSIP Admin Portal to create your new announcement. First, go to the Resources tab and create a new Recording. Upload your audio file, then save it under a new name. Next, go to the Apps tab and create a new Announcement. You can now select your newly uploaded recording from your library and, if desired, choose where to direct the call once the recording has finished (for example, your emergency ring group or your voicemail box instead of your regular auto attendant).
2. Create an Emergency Ring Group
While an unexpected turn of events may disrupt your regular business operations, you may still want to keep a line open for customers or other important contacts to reach you in case of an emergency. One way to ensure that urgent calls are answered is to create a ring group that the call can cycle through before going to a voicemail box.
For example, you might want to create a ring group for your four co-founders that rings simultaneously, or set up a personal ring strategy that starts by ringing your office phone, then your home phone, then your cell phone, before going to voicemail.
If you’re an OnSIP customer, you can create a ring group by going to the OnSIP Admin Portal and clicking on Group tab. When creating a new Group, you can select a name, the desired phones to include, as well as your preferred ring group strategy and failover rule.
3. Set Up Call Forwarding
If the situation at hand means you will personally be unavailable and/or frequently out of the office, it’s a good idea to update your personal call forwarding settings. For example, you can send all calls to your extension straight to your voicemail box instead of ringing your phone first. This is done with a combination of turning your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode and having your voicemail box be your failover destination.
With OnSIP, you can update your call forwarding settings under the Users tab. Simply select the user and modify the section titled “Inbound Call Preferences”. There, you can select how long to let your primary phone ring before going to the selected failover destination.
Then, you can select the “Do Not Disturb” option on your desk phone or softphone app so that the calls will automatically go to your voicemail box.
4. Edit your personal voicemail greeting
Since you'll likely be sending most calls to your voicemail box, it's a good idea to update your voicemail greeting. This gives callers another reminder to reach you via other means (e.g. email) or wait until things are back to normal before attempting to contact you again. Simply state the current state of affairs, followed by your typical message. For ideas, check out some of our sample voicemail greeting scripts here.
There are several ways to update your voicemail greeting with OnSIP. In the Admin Portal, go to the Resources tab and select your voicemail box. You can upload your new greeting in the "Custom Greeting" section.
If you would like your everybody in your organization to update their individual voicemail greetings, you can save time by having each user do it themselves. Check out our blog post here for a detailed explanation of how to update your voicemail greeting from your phone or using the OnSIP app.
5. Enable Voicemail to Email
This feature is handy if you are expecting a lot of calls to your line, but will be unable to answer them as they come in. With voicemail to email, you can receive notifications of all voicemail messages in your inbox and review them one by one later.
OnSIP offers several options for setting up voicemail to email using either the OnSIP Admin Portal or the OnSIP app.
If you’re an admin logged in to the Admin Portal, you can edit a user’s voicemail settings on the Users tab. In the section labeled “Voicemail”, you can edit whether you wish to receive a notification email, if you wish to attach the recording as a .wav file, or if you wish to have the recording deleted from the voicemail box after the email is sent.
In the OnSIP app, individual users can update their personal voicemail settings by clicking Settings in the voicemail column of the home dashboard. Under the “Notify Email” section under Voicemail Settings, users can select one of four options:
- No email - Users will not receive any email notification for new voicemail messages.
- Email - Users will receive an email notification that they have a new voicemail message (with no attachments).
- Email with .wav attachment - Users will receive an email notification that they have a new voicemail message with the recording attached as a .wav file.
- Email with deleted .wav attachment - Users will receive an email notification that they have a new voicemail message with the recording attached as a .wav file, which will be deleted from their voicemail box.
6. Update Business Hour Rules
If your business emergency is only affecting certain business operations but not others, or if means that you are simply changing your office hours, you should update your phone line’s business hour rules. This feature allows businesses to select what hours callers can reach a person, rather than defaulting to an announcement and/or voicemail box.
In the OnSIP Admin Portal, you can find Business Hour Rules under the Apps tab. From there, you can select your availability for each weekday, as well as the destinations for calls received during open vs. closed hours.
Be prepared with a business emergency phone plan
It pays off to take a few minutes to create a business emergency phone plan when operations change without warning. With just a few simple steps, callers can be informed in a professional and courteous manner about what to expect from your organization at this time. This not only saves you time by turning away non-urgent calls, but also reduces the number of unnecessary voicemails from unaware callers.