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What Your Business Phone System Says About Your Company: Good and Bad

January 07, 2016
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Virtual Office Resource Contributor

If you’re above a certain age, the idea of calling a business telephone number and receiving nothing but a generic recorded message, or a recorded message followed by static hold music, is nothing to be surprised at. You remember it as the norm from “the old days.” After a decade or so of unified messaging, however, it’s pretty inexcusable. Younger customers will be utterly baffled by it: they know there’s simply no excuse for it when business calls – which could be critical leads – are easy to forward to someone who WILL pick up the telephone and provide assistance, or at least a direct message that will provide concrete information about when the individual or company will be reachable, and whom to contact in an urgent situation.

It’s all part of the rising expectations in general of customers today, and the expectations of the younger Millennial generation in general. These customers are accustomed to omnichannel customer support access, instant resolutions and complaining publicly, usually by social media, when they don’t get what they expect. Dead-ends in customer support are no longer acceptable, but they are unfortunately still common, according to Sue Walsh in a recent blog post.

“As younger workers and consumers enter the marketplace, this is changing,” wrote Walsh. “According to a recent report by Software Advice, millennials have much higher expectations on the quality of service they receive when calling a business. They like interactions to be quick and productive, and are frustrated when automated phone trees lead nowhere or don’t function as expected.”

Walsh notes that pleasing younger customers is critical today: they control more income than ever, and they outnumber their parents, the Baby Boomers (51 to 69 year olds) as the largest generation group in the U.S. For this reason, it’s critical to build good customer experiences and positive brand impressions to their standards, and this will reflect your choices in a business communications system. There are several important things to keep in mind:

Young customers have low tolerance for transfers. It’s critical, therefore, that you have your organization’s phone extensions set up correctly for all staff with those extensions properly sequenced in an efficient calling queue, according to Walsh.

“The fine settings in your call handling rules are also important,” she wrote. “How many times will an extension ring before the call is passed to the next person in the queue? If your sales manager is out and can’t answer her phone, do her calls promptly ring through to her assistant?”

Dialing by name. Often, customers will have a name or a business card for one of your employees, and will become frustrated when he or she can dial only by extension number. Ensure that customers can use both names or extension numbers to try and reach the right person.

Old greetings. Are customers hearing the same old generic greetings when they reach an auto-attendant? Does the person leaving the message sound like a robot? Are callers not even certain which business they have reached? Ensure that callers who reach a recording are hearing a positive, professional, on-point and regularly changed messages so they can be sure they’re in the right place, and they understand that the business is not, in fact, run by zombies.

“Making sure that your greetings are engaging, and that menu settings and call-handling rules are up to date and effective, will keep your customers’ experiences with your business positive,” wrote Walsh. “Setting up regular maintenance procedures on your phone system will ensure that the messages and options you provide meet your customers’ needs exactly.”

Remember that it’s 2016, and younger customers have higher expectations. Operating your business phone system like it’s 1996 isn’t going to win your organization any accolades, and it may even callers off before they have a chance to become customers. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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