Call handling refers to the process of managing inbound and outbound telephone calls. It can be used to automatically route callers to call center agents or your sales team, to provide callers with directory menus, or provide the answer to frequently asked questions. Even better, call handling-enabled services ensure your clients never get a busy signal for an improved customer experience without limiting your phone lines.
Learn how call handling works and which business phone system providers offer telephone handling features while exploring call centers’ best practices.
How Call Handling Works
When a customer or lead calls your business, they want quick answers from informed employees. With call handling, you set up routing scenarios in your auto-attendant or interactive voice response (IVR) system, which may be simple or advanced.
For basic call routing, callers may press one for your sales team, two to reach customer service, or three to check account information. Advanced call routing allows you to send callers to agents based on their skill level or language ability.
Once your call handling services correctly route the callers, your employees take over to ensure excellent experiences. Successful call management requires a combination of agent skills, etiquette, and reliable technologies.
Your software tracks important metrics, such as:
- First call resolution (FCR)
- Average handle time (AHT)
- Abandoned call rate
- Average speed of answer (ASA)
- Cost per contact
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
- Average call transfer rate
Call handling services offer outbound call management as well. You can program automated calls to deliver messages to employees about office closures or alert customers to a seasonal promotion.
Using call center software and training your agents can boost customer satisfaction rates and improve your call handling performance. In doing so, your business gets better customer reviews, resulting in increased sales and a stellar reputation.
Call Handling Providers
Although conventional public branch exchange (PBX) systems provide call handling features, the cost is expensive for small business owners. By comparison, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) systems offer affordable call routing features so you can answer or forward calls quickly. There are dozens of call handling providers, with each service offering various features and functionality. Before selecting a call routing application, consider your volume of calls, customer needs, and budget.
Call handling providers include:
RingCentral is a VoIP business phone system providing communication and collaboration tools for use on any device. It delivers call handling features like call forwarding and transferring, along with automated greetings and an auto-receptionist. You can also select a multilevel IVR system to quickly route calls to voicemail, external phone numbers, a dial-by-name directory, or other extensions. Prices start at $29.99 per user, per month for unlimited text messaging, team messaging, and document sharing. You can save up to 33% by paying annually and get a feel for the software with RingCentral’s 15-day free trial.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that’s easy to set up and use on desktop or mobile devices. It provides incoming call control, simultaneous call handling, and an automated greeting. With Grasshopper, your callers won’t get a busy signal. Instead, you can set up call features to quickly forward calls to the next available number or extension. Plan prices start at $29 per month for one phone number and three extensions. You can save 10% by paying annually and test out the services with a seven-day free trial.
- Zendesk Talk
Zendesk Talk is call center software that provides automatic help ticket creation, custom greetings, round-robin routing, and multilevel IVR systems. With Zendesk Talk, you can transfer calls to an external number or complete warm transfers where you brief your agent before handing over the call. In addition to a free plan, Zendesk Talk offers paid packages starting at $25 per agent, per month or $19 per agent, per month when paying annually.
Call Handling Pros & Cons
Call Handling Pros
Call Handling Cons
Save money using an auto-attendant to route calls instead of a live receptionist
It takes time to set up various call handling and routing features correctly
Improve customer experience by eliminating busy signals and long caller wait times
Costs may be higher than a landline offering only call waiting functions
Enhance staff training using call monitoring and performance tools
Some features are unnecessary for small businesses and may go unused
Call Handling Best Practices
Excellent customer experiences are crucial to your company’s success. To achieve consistent outcomes, business owners select the best call handling software for their needs and continually train employees to boost skill levels. Use the best call center practices to enhance encounters with customers and leads.
Pay Attention to Key Performance Indicators
Customer service is a tricky business requiring people and call handling skills. Your callers want to feel appreciated, listened to, and most importantly, they want to talk to knowledgeable agents. Aim to improve your service by developing key performance indicators (KPIs) and reviewing your teams’ metrics. For best results, consider:
- Personalizing your calls by using an integrated database showing your caller’s history
- Providing call handling scripts to ensure uniform experiences to every caller every time
- Assessing call volume and adding more staff when needed to reduce caller wait times
Make Use of Rules-based Routing When Possible
Although your IVR system’s initial setup can be time-intensive, getting it right is vital to your call handling performance. Most phone software provides online or phone support to help you imagine various routing scenarios and configure your system accordingly. Popular call routing strategies include:
- Round-robin routing
- Skills-based routing
- Geographic routing
- Time-of-day routing
Follow Up With Callers & Agents
Customer support doesn’t end once you hang up the call. Instead, reach out to clients with a brief survey about their experience. Doing so shows customers that you care about their opinion and experience, leading to better customer retention rates and brand loyalty.
Your agents also benefit from follow-up feedback. You can use customer surveys, call monitoring tools, and call center metrics to analyze your agent’s performance. Then walk your employees through what they did right and what they could improve.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the importance of call handling?
Outstanding call handling opens the doors to better customer relationships and improved conversations, all of which strengthen your reputation and encourage customers to refer new leads to your brand.
How can I improve my call handling?
Improve call handling by investing in the right technologies while adequately training employees on call handling etiquette. A small business phone system manages your routing, and your staff delivers a personal touch. Polish your call handling skills by:
- Answering all calls quickly and reducing caller wait times
- Using listening skills while your customer is speaking
- Encouraging agents to leave notes about each call and customer
- Following up with callers and agents frequently
- Taking advantage of VoIP phone features to improve performance
What is average handle time (AHT)?
The average handle time, or AHT, is how call centers measure the length of time a customer spends on a call. AHT is a key performance indicator that you can use to determine an agent, department, or entire company’s performance.
To determine AHT, you add the total talk time, total hold time, and follow-up time. Next, you divide the sum by your total number of calls. Higher AHT rates mean your customers are waiting longer to get answers. In contrast, lower AHT figures demonstrate better agent efficiency.
Regardless of whether you use a traditional phone line or a VoIP system, call handling affects your customer service and projected outcomes. Call routing apps reduce caller wait times while improving the efficiency of your agents. Furthermore, call management features help you quickly reach customers or employees using outbound calling tools.
RingCentral is a reliable small business phone system with features dedicated to call routing, such as multilevel IVR systems, professional greetings, and employee directories. RingCentral also offers team collaboration tools, making it easier for staff to get the support they need to give callers excellent service every time. Start your 15-day free trial by clicking the button below.