There was a time when having a landline and the associated number was a requirement for any business. In 2021, however, organizations are getting rid of landlines and using modern internet-based technology systems for their communication needs. One of the advantages of using a VoIP phone service is that you can get a business phone number without also buying a landline.
Yet, quite a few companies maintain a landline for several reasons. They might have an alarm system or other enterprise technologies that rely on landlines. They might prefer the privacy and security of fixed lines or may even need one to comply with regulations.
Whether or not you have a landline, most businesses have a need to set up call forwarding in certain situations:
Very few offices follow the traditional model of everyone comes to work at 9, stays until 5, and then goes home. You have salespeople and agents who are frequently on the road, you may have C-level executives who need to travel to multiple offices, and many other employees who telecommute either partially or fully.
Even in offices that require employees to come to work every day, the recent pandemic has forced most employees to work from home for a time. So how do you answer business calls when you can’t pick up the desk phone? The answer is call forwarding.
Call forwarding comes in handy with sales, customer service, or technical support groups. Customers calling in are not looking to speak to a particular person. They want to talk to anyone in the department who can help. If one or more of your employees are on vacation or otherwise not in the office, call forwarding can help. Instead of sending customers to voicemail, you can forward calls to another person who can help the customer.
In recent years, organizations have realized the need for employees to have multiple devices. The average office-goer may have a desktop at work, a laptop for travel, a desk phone with a business number, and a personal mobile device they use to answer business calls or some combination of the above. So when they get a call, they need the ability to answer it on the closest available device instead of having to run to the phone. While this does not fit the technical definition of call forwarding, you still need a way to forward calls to a specific device for an employee.
There are many ways to forward calls from your office phone. Which one you choose will depend on the size of your business, the communication system, the cost of setting it up, and the features you need.
The simplest option to set up call forwarding is to use a star code, usually *72 or *92. It enables automatic call forwarding to a number you’ve previously given to the system. It’s quick, easy, and perhaps most important it’s free. There are no settings to bother with and it’s automatic so you can rest assured it’ll work.
There are downsides though. You need to turn off call forwarding manually. Forget to do it and you’ll have business calls disturbing you on the weekends or while you’re on vacation. It’s suitable if you’re a one-person business but the moment you add another staff member, this option will stop working.
There are quite a few apps that will allow you to forward calls from your office phone. You might have a hard time selecting one, there are so many choices. Once again, they’re easy to set up and use. You can toggle call forwarding for all calls or selected ones only through quick shortcuts.
On the cons list, these apps are oriented towards the consumer market or solo entrepreneurs. You don’t get service guarantees, dedicated support, or any other business features. Unfortunately, they are also restricted in terms of platform. You won’t find many apps that will work on Windows laptops, smartphones like Android and iOS as well as Linux/Mac, etc.
If you own or manage a small to medium-sized business, you want to look at business call forwarding apps or services. These services cater to the enterprise segment and offer core business features. For instance, if you still use a traditional PBX system and landlines then your phone carrier will offer call forwarding features in the base package or as an upgrade. This will allow you finer control over the feature such as when, how, and even who can use it.
But let’s face it, most companies no longer use the traditional landline. The vast majority have switched over to VoIP services, either through a dedicated vendor or by using their own on-premise setup. So what kind of call forwarding options can you use with VoIP?
Call forwarding features and settings in VoIP phone systems are smarter than your average landline options. In fact, there are several variants of the basic call forwarding feature that are tailor-made for specific situations. Let’s look at them one by one.
Basic call forwarding works as you would expect in VoIP services. You can enable or disable this feature remotely and it is easy to use. However, VoIP call forwarding offers fine-grained control through policies and schedules.
For example, you can forward all calls or only selective ones from a specific area code. You can forward calls only when the line is busy or if the phone is set to do not disturb mode. In add, you can also set calls to forward only when there is no answer, when the extension is unreachable, or when outside specific business hours.
You can forward calls to a mobile device, toll-free numbers, and even international numbers. Want to forward text messages as well? That’s possible too! There is usually a limit to how many numbers you can forward calls to such as 10 or 15. But few organizations need more options than that.
This is a specific type of call forwarding that is ideal for teams such as:
It’s good for situations where customers are calling for help with something. They don’t really care who they talk to as long as the person helps them. Rather than use call forwarding, you can use the built-in features of Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) queues. Managers can enable settings so that calls go to the next available agent according to pre-determined rules.
This feature allows your business to answer all calls promptly without sending a customer to voicemail or hoping they will call you back. It helps you offer consistent service even when staff take a break, go on vacation, etc. as there is always someone to answer the phones.
This feature is geared more towards individuals who are:
It’s the opposite of ACD queues where the caller is not looking for a specific individual at the business. Here customers are almost always interested in talking to a specific person such as an account rep, manager, or another point of contact for business transactions. If they want to talk to manager A, they do not want to get manager B instead.
Multi-device ring allows users to add several devices to their work number. Then they can set rules as to how and when each call should ring the devices. One option is to set it so that each call rings simultaneously on all connected devices. This is useful in situations where the user does not know where they will be or which device will be closest to use.
Another option is to set incoming calls to ring each device in turn and stop when the user answers the call. This option comes in handy when the user has a priority for specific devices. You might want incoming calls to ring a personal cell phone first, then the office phone, then your laptop.
The best part about VoIP call forwarding is that while it may look complex, the feature is easy to set up and use. You can enable or disable it remotely, change settings on the fly and even access your dashboard while traveling. You can restrict overall control to only administrators while allowing users to change personal settings.
If you are already using a hosted VoIP service or are considering the switch, be sure to look into the call forwarding features. Some vendors include basic call forwarding and multi-device ring as part of the base plan. Others may offer it as part of an upgrade. Regardless of pricing options, call forwarding can help your business deliver superior customer service. So don’t hesitate to explore the opportunities it opens up!
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