The ability to upload customer on-hold content is a great telephone feature with the potential to increase profits and improve customer experience. Illustration by Infograpps.
The ability to upload customer on-hold content is a great telephone feature with the potential to increase profits and improve customer experience. Illustration by Infograpps.

Part 3: Telephone System Features

(If you missed out on the previous installment here is the link to Part 2: Business Telephone System Technology)

Business leaders are notorious for stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. Leveraging phone system features is probably one of the most overlooked and underutilized small business tools. It is usually considered a necessary cost of doing business rather than a means to strategically drive profit to the bottom-line. Most of the time, we only think about the phone system when it is not working right. We seldom give thought to how we can leverage it to our advantage.

Developing a thorough understanding of telephone system features is the only way to use a phone system strategically within your business. Using features strategically is the only way to optimize your telephony ROI. If you have already given thought to how your phone system enables your staff to generate revenue, streamline processes, save time, impact customer experience, cross-sell, or reinforce your brand, then congratulations! That puts you a step ahead of most of your competition.

The list below highlights the top (in our opinion), Must Have Telephone System Features for SMBs. Note: We have left out very basic features such as call transfer, conferencing, forwarding, and others that are deemed standard with any business-class system.

  • Outbound Caller ID Control – The number displayed by your outbound calls may be a non-published number assigned the particular extension (or line) being used. Unless you have a good reason for this, it shouldn’t be done. The way your business name is displayed is critical. Both the name and number are part of maintaining brand consistency.
  • Custom Message/Music On-Hold – Call your business and have them put you on-hold for 60 seconds. Are you impressed by what you hear or ready to hang up? This is an often under-utilized communication platform and your chance to inform, educate or even entertain. Hold time feels dramatically shorter with relevant, quality content.

    A well-designed auto-attendant can increase customer satisfaction with their on-hold experience. Illustration by Infograpps.
    A well-designed auto-attendant can increase customer satisfaction with the on-hold experience. Illustration by Infograpps.
  • Auto-Attendant (Virtual Receptionist) – Live Answer is the traditional favorite, but well designed prompt recordings can actually increase customer satisfaction. Optimizing call handling with the customer in mind is paramount. Avoid lengthy introductions or “commercials”. And for crying out loud, skip the “our menu has changed” nonsense!
  • Voicemail to Email – Retrieving and managing voicemail through your telephone keypad is ‘old-school’. Having them emailed to you instantly as a recorded attachment is where it’s at!. Assuming sufficient email storage, you’ve got a built-in searchable voicemail archive. No more skipping through dozens of saved messages to hear the one you’re looking for!
  • Call Detail Reporting – Are your telemarketers making the number of calls you expect? What’s the average length of your support calls? All of this data, and so much more, is easily queried and readily available with most modern telephone solutions. If you don’t have your arms around this one, you could be leaking dollars through your phone system.

These features represent our favorites for any small business. Depending on the nature of your model, you will likely benefit from several others, such as Mobility Integration, Call Monitoring, CRM Integration, Remote Users and more.