A call transfer is a process where you allocate an inbound call to another phone on your business’ system. For example, if a person makes a call to your office and the receptionist receives them, he or she will send the caller to the appropriate department to help resolve their issue. In most cases, this uses a call transfer button that’s either present on the IP phone or found as a dedicated button in an app. All of the best business phone systems have some form of call transfer, and some even have multiple types.
Not all call transfers are the same; simply transferring a customer to a department without a plan of action is an easy way to expose that customer to long wait times. At worst, this easily leads to customers being routed to the wrong department. Based on a report by Accenture, 81% of customers say it’s frustrating when it takes extra work to interact with their favorite company. Frustrated customers often lead to lost customers, so you need to create a streamlined process.
Types of Call Transfers
When you’ve correctly configured your call transferring system, your customers will be quickly and smoothly sent to another department. An inefficient system easily exposes customers to extended wait times and incorrect transfers, which often irritates the customer or even causes them to hang up.
There are three main types of call transfers: cold, warm, and voicemail transfers, so let’s take a look at each.
Cold transfers are very simple: You send the call to the third party without any preparation or preamble. The third party answers the call and business proceeds from here. Since there’s no warm-up, the third party will have to glean information from the caller as if it’s a fresh call. Sometimes, the software may send disposition codes and customer information to the recipient, but this varies from provider to provider. These are sometimes called blind transfers since the recipient will have limited information about the caller.
Warm transfers, which are also known as attended or consultative transfers, are much more organized. When you transfer the call, you place the customer on hold for a few minutes so that you are able to update the third party using pertinent information. This has several advantages:
- You verify if the intended third party is available or if the caller needs the recipient’s voicemail.
- You’re able to send the call to another person in the same department if the other is away.
- The third party is much more prepared to deal with the customer’s issues.
Once the third party has been updated with the information, the call is sent and you hang up the phone. If there was a drawback to this system, it would be that warm transfers expose the caller to some hold time, which some customers find irritating.
Voicemail transfers are fairly simple. Sometimes, the third party is simply not available, and as a result of gathering this information from a warm transfer, you might just want to send the customer to a voicemail. While some customers may be put off by being sent to a voicemail repeatedly, most gladly leave a message if it means gaining resolution in the near future.
Ways to Transfer Calls
Losing callers is unacceptable, but fortunately, many of the call management systems from the top voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) providers have created streamlined call transfer experiences to help you retain customers.
There are three types of call transfer systems that you can use: VoIP, virtual phone, and standard public switched telephone networks (PSTN). Each of these varies significantly, so select the type of system your business uses for a more detailed rundown:
How to Transfer Calls With a VoIP System
VoIP-based call transfers are mostly done either via a desk phone or an application. VoIP is particularly useful when transferring calls because with technologies like remote call forwarding, you can reach a third party almost anywhere. This reduces the incidence of voicemail transfers and helps customers get the help that they need when they need it.
You’ll find that most, if not all, of the top VoIP providers offer some form of call transfer, so let’s take a look at one of the leaders, RingCentral. RingCentral stands out because they have a very robust selection of features that benefit businesses of any size. Combine that with four pricing tiers that grow as your company grows, and they prove to be a very compelling provider.
With RingCentral, you transfer calls from devices like desk phones, the RingCentral Phone for desktop, or through the RingCentral App for mobile. Let’s take a quick look at each.
RingCentral Desk Phone
Desk phones tend to have soft keys that change based on context, so using one of these phones for transfers is a guided experience. For a blind transfer on RingCentral, you simply press the soft key labeled “transfer,” which is sometimes abbreviated as “trans,” and then press the “blind” key when it appears.
From here, you dial either the extension or phone number of the third-party recipient. To perform a warm transfer, you simply skip the blind step and input the recipient extension or number. For voicemail transfers, press *0 before the extension or number to route the call. This will send the call directly to the voicemail inbox, even if the recipient is available.
RingCentral Phone for Desktop
When using a softphone system like the one offered to RingCentral subscribers, the interface is typically very intuitive. Once on a call, you’re presented with a user interface (UI) that provides you with options to mute, call up the keypad, record the call, or place the call on hold. This is also where you’ll find the “Transfer” button.
Once clicked, you can input the extension or phone number. Some systems even allow you to dial by name. RingCentral’s system then provides you with a submenu that features the type of transfer: warm, blind, or voicemail.
Transferring on the RingCentral App on both iOS and Android is accomplished in very similar ways. First, you tap “Call Actions” and then “Transfer.”
This displays your contacts so that you bring up the third party you wish to reach. If you don’t have that information, the dialer is also usable at this stage. Next, select “Transfer Now” for a cold transfer, “Ask First” for a warm one, or “To Voicemail” to send the caller to the recipient’s inbox.
How to Transfer Calls on a Virtual Phone
A virtual phone provider like Grasshopper differs from a standard VoIP provider like RingCentral because dialing is exclusively software-based. This means you never use a desk phone, but you can still forward calls from a smartphone app.
To transfer calls on Grasshopper, you can either press the “Transfer Call” button on the desktop app or press the pound key twice on the mobile app. In both cases, you’ll just have to input the extension followed by the pound key. In the case of Grasshopper, note that when transferring to an external number, you’ll have to enable the virtual calling card feature before you can transfer inbound calls. This feature is in all Grasshopper plans but is disabled by default.
How to Transfers on PSTN Landlines
On a public switched telephone network (PSTN), call transfer is relatively easy to do if your system is set up for the service. Call transfer was first implemented on these systems, and it requires the use of a switchhook flash. This is a dedicated device or lever that allows you to access a secondary dial tone while on a call so that you’re able to initiate a transfer. This also is sometimes done by pressing the pound button twice when you’re already on the phone with a customer.
Once you do this, you’ll hear a stutter dial tone, which indicates that you can make a second call to a third party. Once you’re ready to transfer, you merely press the switchhook flash again to connect the two calls.
Alternative: Flip Your Calls
Call flip, also known as call pushing or pulling, is another form of call transfer that allows you to quickly send a call not to a third party, but yourself on another device. This is particularly useful for those who are on the go and need a quick way to transfer a call originating on an IP phone to a smartphone. Similarly, when your smartphone starts to run low on battery, this form of call transfer allows you to seamlessly send the call to a desk phone, softphone, or another smart device.
One of the standout features of call flip is its continuity; your customers won’t notice the difference when you transfer them, so it won’t feel like they are being bounced around. This also allows you to multitask easier; you can keep the call going, even when you’re on the move. This is a good way to free up your hands; simply push your calls from an IP desk phone to a softphone with a headset.
On most providers, flipping your calls is very easy. For example, there’s usually a “pull call” or “push call” option for any ongoing conversation in both desktop and smartphone apps. If you want to push the call to a smartphone or desk phone, simply press the menu option. You can also pull calls in the same manner to your device of choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When is it best to use voicemail call transfers?
It’s not always viable to send customers directly to another department via cold or warm transfer methods. When this isn’t an option, it’s better to send the call directly to the third party’s voicemail. Voicemail call transfers are a useful tool when:
- You know that the third party is away
- You know that the third party is already on the line with another customer
What if my phone doesn’t have a soft ‘Transfer’ key?
For a provider like RingCentral, you still have options even if you’re using a legacy phone on a VoIP connection. You’ll have to first place the caller on hold by pressing ##. Once you’ve clicked the pound or hash button twice, you’ll be prompted by the system to either take the caller off hold, transfer to another extension, or be sent to an additional menu. To perform a blind transfer, you merely dial in the extension; to perform a warm transfer, you’ll have to press * first.
Can I send call transfers to recipients on my contact list?
Not every system requires you to input an extension or a direct number; some providers allow you to quickly access contacts on your desktop or mobile device. From the application, most providers will also have a “Contacts” button that will allows you to cycle through a list of numbers or contact details. Many providers also have a search feature so that you can transfer quickly using either names or numbers.
Keeping your customer downtime to a minimum is critical, and call transfer is an essential call routing technology that you can’t afford to do without. Knowing how to optimize your system for efficient transfers is also important. If you’re finding that your VoIP system isn’t managing the task efficiently, it’s time to do some shopping. No matter the endpoint, a good call transfer system will keep your customers happy so that they’ll keep coming back.