This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Call handling is the process of managing inbound and outbound calls within a company based on the specific needs of your call center operations, reception staff, or sales teams. It allows you to create a set of options to route incoming calls to the desired destination and determine the best way to provide better customer service and maintain team productivity. Keep reading to learn more about what call handling is, how it works, and some best practices.
How Call Handling Works
Call handling works by optimizing telephony features to manage inbound and outbound calls, depending on your business type, location, and objectives. For example, most call center operations use a business phone system with auto-attendant features to greet callers before directing them to the appropriate agent or department.
Corporations with large call center operations often employ complex call handling procedures to manage different customer queries. These include various call routing strategies, such as skills- or location-based routing. They use multilevel auto-attendant or an interactive voice response (IVR) system to effectively solve customer issues or provide the information they need.
Call forwarding largely benefits remote workers and distributed teams. It provides employees the flexibility to redirect calls to another device, allowing them to address customer queries wherever they are. In contact centers, supervisors use call whisper to guide agents in a call.
Companies with shared calling responsibilities use call parking for handling high call volumes. This feature allows them to park calls until an agent is available to answer a call. Another useful feature is call screening, which uses caller IDs to determine the characteristics of an incoming call before deciding the type of action the agent should take. Many businesses also implement call management guidelines for answering calls and addressing issues.
Best Call Handling Practices
Good call handling represents the professional image of your business. Having a phone system with VoIP business phone features makes a huge difference in improving the overall performance of your call center. Consider the following best call handling practices to ensure improved relationships with your customers:
Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators (KPIs) play an important role in improving agent performance and customer satisfaction rates. Monitoring key metrics helps in delivering more efficient customer service by maintaining high-quality standards and determining training needs. Here are some KPIs to use to measure the effectiveness of your inbound and outbound call efforts:
- Average call abandonment rate
- Average handle time (AHT)
- First call resolution (FCR)
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
Read our guide on how to improve average handle time to enhance customer satisfaction and boost agent productivity.
Utilize Business Tools & Software Integrations
Third-party integrations are essential additions to your business phone system, allowing you to anticipate the caller’s needs in real time. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform provides access to the incoming caller’s profile, past purchases, and troubleshooting history. This saves agents time and allows them to focus on the conversation instead of searching for information during the call.
Implement a Follow-up Procedure
Continual improvements and regular updates are important components of a strong call management strategy. When taking phone calls, agents should add call notes and set up follow-up reminders. Call recording enables supervisors to offer suggestions on handling certain inquiries. Automated reminders allow you to connect with customers at the right time and monitor how your efforts are affecting the entire customer journey.
Inbound Call Handling vs Outbound Call Handling
Inbound call handling refers to the process when a customer initiates contact with your business. This is often handled by a live receptionist or a customer service representative whose job is to take incoming calls. Call handling enables businesses to answer questions about products and services, set an appointment, fix issues, or extend operating hours.
Outbound call handling, on the other hand, refers to the calls your employees make to reach your leads or customers. These types of calls involve telemarketing, surveys, sales pitches, or subscription renewals.
For companies that frequently handle large volumes of inbound calls, it is recommended prioritizing customer-focused features, such as intelligent call routing and self-service tools. Meanwhile, companies that place multiple outgoing calls require a power dialer to fully automate the outbound calling process.
How Proper Call Handling Benefits Businesses
Regardless of your industry and business type, incorporating call management procedures makes a huge difference in improving agent and customer interactions. It creates a good first impression, opens up sales opportunities, and enhances team productivity. If you’re wondering whether your business needs call handling, here are some reasons to consider one:
Improves Team Productivity
Handling a large volume of phone calls limits team productivity as agents spend the majority of their time answering basic queries and transferring calls to different departments. Implementing call handling features, such as third-party integrations, provides your employees with the right set of tools and skills to focus on more important customer interactions. This removes the pressure from your agents by ensuring all calls are answered and more leads are generated.
Enhances Customer Experiences
Call handling serves as complementary support in providing round-the-clock customer service. It helps your business ensure faster response times and decreases call abandonment. Personalized interactions also satisfy customers since the process is faster and more reliable. For example, intelligent routing solutions help customers get to the right agent or department for faster resolutions.
Want to know how to provide a best-in-class customer experience? Check out our guide on tips to effectively improve customer satisfaction.
Cuts Costs & Reduces Resources
Hiring plenty of employees to answer phone calls is costly, especially if they have to work 24/7. Instead of deploying several agents, investing in a business phone system that offers several call management features reduces operational expenses and the cost per call resolution. These useful tools seamlessly execute most of the company’s routine tasks, such as routing calls, data reporting, and recording interactions.
Empowers Data-driven Decisions
The call handling process provides significant information on how your contact center is performing. Access to good data will provide you with the customer’s background, the purpose of their call, and their overall experience with the company. The information you gather will empower you to tailor conversations for lead generation, support, and customer service.
Providers With Call Handling Features
A large majority of VoIP service providers offer call handling services. However, not all provide the same set of functionalities and price points. To help you decide, we examined various options to determine the top providers with several call handling capabilities.
RingCentral is a cloud-based communications solution that offers message, voice, video, and contact center services. It ranks as one of our top business phone systems because of its comprehensive call handling capabilities, such as skills-based routing, advanced IVR, and click-to-call feature. RingCentral also offers third-party integrations with popular business tools, such as Salesforce and Google Workspace.
Check out our RingCentral review to learn more about its offerings.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system for teams looking for a budget-friendly, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) solution. All plans include business texting, call forwarding, voicemail, call transfer, and incoming call control. It is also our top choice for best virtual phone number providers as it offers numbers for local, toll-free, and vanity.
To learn if it’s the right VoIP solution for your business, visit our Grasshopper review.
Nextiva is a business phone provider that allows users to manage calls, texts, voicemail, video conferences, and team messages. For its call management features, Nextiva offers a multilevel auto-attendant, hold music, and professionally recorded greetings. It also comes with unlimited conference calls and a 250-participant limit on video conferencing.
If you want to learn more, check out our Nextiva review and discover what its business phone platform has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the essential skills for handling customer calls?
Call handling involves a person’s interpersonal skills, evident in the ability to communicate clearly and handle customer queries effectively. Agents are required to listen actively, be consistent, maintain a good tone of voice, and have technical proficiency in the company’s products and services.
How do I personalize conversations with customers?
Personalizing customer interactions requires access to the caller’s data profile. This requires the use of software integrations, such as customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, specifically in retrieving customers’ previous transactions and purchase information. Another option is to redirect them to an agent who has previously handled their inquiry to make them feel at ease.
Does call handling require employee training?
Yes. Employees require sufficient training to better navigate and understand the functions of different call handling features. They also need to adapt to using conversational scripts to tailor their interactions with customers.
Call handling refers to the set of actions taken every time a call comes in or when placing an outgoing call. Call handling services—together with the best practices—benefit businesses by improving their professional image and ultimately providing a better customer experience. Call handling solutions are integrated into a cloud-based business phone system, so running your business from anywhere is easier.