When we think of VoIP service we tend to dwell on the savings that can be realized over a regular land-line phone service, often as high as 80%. However, did you know that a VoIP service can also increase productivity for your employees?
In this post I will highlight my top 10 VoIP features that are capable of enhancing the overall productivity of your business.
1. Click to Call
The click-to-call feature (often referred to as click-to-dial) enables call integration with your Web browser and Outlook email client. When a number is displayed on a web page or in Outlook, simply click on it to dial that phone number. Behind the scenes, what actually happens is the service provider will then call you on your desk phone (or softphone) and connect the call. All that is required is a free plugin for your computer from your VoIP provider.
2. CRM Integration
Customer Relationship Management, yes it’s a mouthful. Think of Salesforce or Sugar or perhaps Microsoft Dynamics. These CRMs, often residing in the cloud, are used to help your sales funnel by storing customer information, purchase orders, budgets, projections and the likes. Some providers have plugins to integrate the most common CRM systems with your VoIP phone service. For example, when a customer calls in, the plugin on your computer is capable of pulling the latest CRM information for this customer and displaying it on your computer, all in real-time. Before you even answer the call, it can show you the last orders and any other pertinent information related to this customer.
3. Multiple Devices on One Extension
One of the best ways to use your VoIP service is to have multiple devices on the same extension so you never miss that important call. You may have your IP phone at your desk configured for extension 200, along with a phone in the lab and maybe your soft-phone app on your smartphone. Simply answer the call on any device. VoIP users seem to love this feature. Sure it can be taken too far, there’s no need to have a device setup in the restroom!
Need to get your team together for an ad-hoc conference call, including remote workers. Setting up a Goto Meeting call and sending our meeting invites is one way to go but it’s time consuming! Instead just use your own dedicated conferencing bridge, which typically has its own number and can allow up to 30 attendees. It is password protected and usually all of the internal conference calls are free of charge.
5. Auto Attendant
An auto attendant is essentially a virtual receptionist. You have likely all used this at some point in time when calling a big Corporation. It answers the call and tries to direct you to the correct department or person e.g. 1 for Sales, 2 for Support etc. For starters it gives your business the appearance of being a large Corporation, but it also removes the need for a receptionist and when setup correctly, ensures customers reach the correct person or department. One option that can be added to the auto attendant is the dial by name directory. This ensures your customer can always reach the right person and they do not need to remember the extension number for that person.
6. Caller ID/Screening
Caller ID likely needs no explanation, it displays the caller’s information on your phone. Call screening takes it one step further and announces the name of the caller so you don’t even need to look at the phone’s display. If it’s an important customer, sure you will want to answer it but more than likely it’s someone you can call back at a more convenient time. One other feature that is closely aligned to this is Anonymous Call Rejection (or blocking). If someone is calling you and deliberately withholding their caller ID information you can enable this feature to automatically reject the call.
7. Call Recording
You can record specific calls, or indeed all calls, or maybe specific calls during a particular time of the day. Either way, this is a great feature to help train new hires. Any person that has direct communication with your customer needs to be well trained in customer service. This feature allows you to record calls, then listen to them at your convenience so you can provide constructive feedback to them at a later time.
Set your availability using the presence feature. Usually this can be set to “Busy”, “Hold” or “Available” and similarly this should be performed across all of your employees. Instantly see if someone is available before you try and contact them. It may not sound like much but it actually does save time as it stops you from ringing someone that would likely not answer the call and more importantly when you have a deadline, mark your status as “Busy”. Hopefully it will prevent interruptions.
9. Voicemail to Email and Transcription
If you get a lot of voicemails, it can be time consuming to log in and listen to endless ramblings, let’s be honest. Voicemail to email has been around for a while and I personally use it quite a lot as I can pick up voicemails anywhere by simply clicking on an email attachment. Voicemail transcription can take this one step further, if it is a decent transcription service that is! The message is transcribed to text and sent via email or SMS. This feature is improving, though it used to be bad, for example have you ever used Google Voice transcription? Yikes.
10. Call Queuing
This is not an important feature for every business but if you have a customer service or sales department, call queuing can be a very efficient way of routing calls. Agents receive the calls in an orderly fashion thus ensuring an efficient process for handling incoming calls from customers.
Well that’s my top 10 VoIP features for increasing productivity. However, there are often hundreds of other features available from VoIP providers, some of which may be more relevant to your particular business. To learn more, take a look at our VoIP Feature Comparison tool, which lets you compare popular business VoIP provider’s features and prices.
If you have any comments or questions feel free to share below.