Call forwarding was developed decades ago to let analogue phone users reduce the risk of missing an important call. Mobile phones reduced this need, and companies increased their digitalisation and self-service options to a point where it became uncommon to hear a customer’s voice. Now, in an uncertain business landscape, many organisations are re-realising the immense value of connecting with customers via phone as it lets them create more authentic and deeper relationships with customers who feel valued and appreciated.

With ongoing workforce modernisation and social distancing measures in place, ensuring staff members can reliably be contacted by phone is becoming more complex. Office numbers can no longer be picked up by just anyone; using call forwarding, they have to be forwarded to a specific number. If that person isn’t available, the call could be missed. This impacts customer service quality and could mean potential customers are lost to competitors.

A call is a critical moment in customer service. If handled correctly, it can turn a transaction into a relationship that matters. When a client or prospect calls the business’s number, they expect someone to be available and respond. They want to be heard.

Simple call forwarding is no longer sufficient for organisations that want to leverage the power of human voice connections. Businesses need to be able to choose how and where to direct incoming calls. When clients call a business number, their call should be automatically directed to an answer point previously determined by the business based on various routing options.

Here are four ways modern call forwarding systems can help ensure customer satisfaction during business uncertainty:

1. Maintain high customer service levels

With phone communication one of the few channels that affords a real human connection, organisations must ensure the quality of customer service remains, regardless of workload. A call forwarding system can help organisations maintain client loyalty by developing rich relationships through the delivery of reliable service and consistent quality customer interactions.

Client calls are extremely valuable to businesses and missing them be damaging to the business. This is because clients usually call when they’re ready to buy or they have an issue that needs to be solved; both of these scenarios require an immediate response. Simple delays, missed calls or voicemail diversion can reduce customer satisfaction, and it is often difficult to call back at a time that suits them. This can lead to missed revenue generating opportunities, client losses and reputational damage.

2. Increase operational efficiency  

When tasks need undivided attention, calls can be forwarded to an alternate number, allowing business owners to balance operational efficiency while still providing excellent customer service. Routing options also allow calls to be diverted to the most appropriate person based on options including location, time and day, preset call menu or customised options. This ensures calls are sent to the person best-placed to answer them.

3. Scale as needed

Some businesses are seeing a spike in their inbound calls due to COVID-19. However, this spike is likely temporary, so hiring additional staff to deal with increased phone calls may not be the best option for the business in the long run. To avoid letting staff go when the isolation rule lifts, or to avoid hiring contract staff or offshoring, using a call forwarding service allows businesses to quickly and easily scale as needed.

As well as delivering phone calls, modern call forwarding providers can also handle the calls as a service. They can take messages, nurture calls, make bookings, process sales and escalate more complex requests to the appropriate person. Organisations should look for a call forwarding service that lets them direct incoming calls to the destination they want and for the number of times needed, without incurring additional costs.

4. Gain visibility

Remote working has meant that managers have lost visibility into the productivity of their staff in many cases. Call forwarding providers give back that visibility through data-based insights into how phone calls are being made, to whom, and how much they cost. This lets businesses assess employee productivity levels, as well as gain insight into areas where the business could improve.

Maintaining business as usual as much as possible during this uncertain time is key to business success. Ensuring professionalism and consistency through verbal customer service channels for prospects and clients gives them a sense of confidence in you and your service.

Mike Mulvey is regional managing director for Fonebox Australia and New Zealand