Are your customers having trouble reaching your brand? In the world of VoIP, there are several tools like IVR systems and dedicated call center software to ensure your customer reaches the right rep, but what should you do in an emergency or when your reps need to work remotely? During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to rely on remote workforces, but fortunately, many providers delivered COVID-19 remote work tools to help ease the transition.
Remote call forwarding, which is sometimes referred to as RCF by providers, allows administrators and individual users to quickly forward calls to new numbers so that customer needs are always met, and it’s done on the fly. Remember, missed calls are missed opportunities, so you need to implement strong call forwarding features to stay ahead.
What is Remote Call Forwarding?
Remote call forwarding is used by businesses to have their lines of communication connected so that customers can call the same number and reach an agent at different locations. Any incoming calls on the same number can be forwarded to another office or a mobile phone where someone will be available to address the caller’s needs.
When your call forwarding system is efficient, calls will not be missed, even when staff is limited in your offices. If customers can contact you at any time, and they are satisfied with the connection that they made, your company will most likely get the lead that may have found another alternative if an agent was not reachable during the time of their call. Optimized customer service statistics will depend on your customers reaching your brand consistently, and remote call forwarding ensures a reliable point of contact with your reps.
What Benefits does it Offer Business?
Call forwarding is used by businesses as small as startups and as large as enterprises that have a multinational presence. This is because call forwarding delivers substantial benefits including increased availability for your brand and the ability to consolidate calling across multiple physical locations. It connects to most preexisting office phone systems and serves as a way to enhance customer service without needless expenditure, excessive hardware, or additional agents.
You simply can’t afford to do without this call management technology. Not convinced? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the most critical benefits.
Remote call forwarding is a surefire way to ensure that your customers always have a means of reaching you. Even when agents are out of the office or the office has closed, inbound calls will be forwarded to another call center or office in the appropriate time zone, or the calls will be directly diverted to your personnel’s devices such as their home desktops with business VoIP softphones or their smart devices. This is all done quickly and remotely via built-in UIs or dedicated numbers.
You set the rules for the call forwarding, so enabling specific routines for certain times of the day is easy. For example, you set calls to be directed to your physical office between the times of 8 AM and 6 PM. Set these calls to automatically switch to your mobile or home phone at all other times. It’s even possible to set the system to automatically send inbound calls to your voicemail at certain times, such as during your lunch break or after the workday is complete.
Enhanced availability is a major driving factor for businesses to employ some form of remote forwarding; you’re no longer tethered to your desk when you’re expecting a call. You can go where you need to be without running the chance of missing an important call with a client or customer.
Reach Multiple Offices
VoIP-based call forwarding also permits you to route calls to where they need to be. For example, a business with locations in Westchester, NY, Columbus, OH, and Saratoga, CA, has their calls all routed to these locations from a single toll-free number. These office locations are also configurable to ring all at once, and when someone picks up, they stop ringing for all. This is a concrete way to manage calls quickly and get customers the timely help they need, even when a branch office closes for the night.
Conversely, this is an excellent way to consolidate numbers. Even when you’re delivering local virtual numbers to various geographical locations, call forwarding allows you to connect them all to a single switch. This switch then routes the calls to the appropriate agent/agent group.
Convenient for Customers
Direct inward dial numbers, or virtual numbers, use a form of call forwarding that’s very useful for anyone intending to expand into long-distance domestic or even foreign markets. With this technology, locals dial the assigned local or toll-free 800 numbers but still reach your remote offices without incurring extra charges.
In foreign, non-English speaking markets, local calls from these remote areas are forwarded directly to your agents with the needed language proficiency. For the caller, there’s no sign that they are reaching your Florida branch office and not an office in their home country.
Flexibility for any Phone Numbers
Business communications have multiple endpoints to consider – organizations engage with customers on desk phones, softphones on Windows and macOS, and in smartphone apps on Google Android and Apple iOS. Remote call forwarding is done easily on any of these communication technologies, even on traditional PSTN landlines.
This flexibility grants you unique opportunities. Working remotely in a Starbucks, but don’t want to miss calls? You easily connect to the public internet and receive business calls on a laptop or a tablet. Out of the country? As long as you have an internet connection, calls will be forwarded to your mobile device as if you were in the office.
No New Hardware Required
Most providers of hosted PBX office phone systems offer remote call forwarding, so all of the needed settings is present on the provider side, not in your office. This means that adding this function to your inbound calling profile is requires no additional hardware installs. Most systems receive this add-on feature with zero downtime, so your phone calls can be forwarded to new numbers almost as soon as you’ve purchased the service from your provider.
Calling features without hardware implementation is a crucial benefit of this technology – you don’t need to have a phone room, and there’s no additional rat’s nest of wires to manage. Charges are folded into your VoIP subscription with minimal charge.
How to Activate Remote Call Forwarding
Activating remote call forwarding is something that varies based on the VoIP provider. Most providers have a straightforward method to activation that can be set up in 10 steps or less and will deliver the feature immediately.
It’s essential to understand the “remote” in remote call forwarding – you activate the feature using a remote access number and utilize a PIN to verify that you’re the one making the change. This makes it easy to add the forwarding number, even if it isn’t a permanent number that you’ll be using for customer contact. Most providers make the process relatively simple; you use the same access number and PIN to enter the menu and use a numeric key code to activate and deactivate the feature for your VoIP service.
On the other hand, this feature is sometimes configurable directly in the provider’s software – either on softphones, through a browser, or in a mobile VoIP app. When you use this method, specific features are enabled via sliders in most cases – with you selecting “on” or “off.” Other features are also configurable such as user hours or after hours forwarding.
What Are Best Practices for Remote Call Forwarding?
When your business uses this function, there are going to be best practices that must be followed to remain professional. This is the aspect of your phone system that connects your customers to where they need to be to resolve their call.
Highlight Your Brand
Most enterprise-level businesses have a system that greets customers with the name of the business as well as an overview of the brand. If calls are being sent to another telephone number using remote call forwarding, you will want to make sure that your brand is still highlighted before the call is answered. This will give the caller an excellent first impression and provide them with confirmation that they contacted the correct number.
Create Short IVR Menus
Companies that get a lot of incoming calls will often use IVR menus to find out the reason that the customer is calling before the call is forwarded to another number. This makes forwarding calls remotely simpler, and the caller can get where they need to go with the first connection that they make. Don’t make your IVR menus too complicated because you want to save time when the caller reaches the new number instead of needing to be transferred elsewhere. Optimized IVR call flow is a smart way to gather information without putting the customer off.
Keep Timeout Values Short
When calls are being forwarded remotely because there is no one available to take them at the original number, you don’t want the call to sit at the number where it won’t be answered for several rings. This timeout value needs to be relatively short so that the caller stays on the phone line, and the call is resolved. Customers don’t want to wait for 10 rings before the call is forwarded to another remote location, so make sure that your settings give the customer a great impression of how your brand deals with customers.
Keep Your System Up to Date
If your remote call forwarding system uses any type of IVR system or gives messages to the customer when they call, make sure that it is updated regularly. Imagine changing the name of the business, then forwarding calls to a number that uses the old name instead of the new one. This will be confusing for customers, and it could lose you business if they disconnect the call and look for another alternative because they thought that they reached an incorrect number.
How to Use it in an Emergency
Having remote call forwarding at your place of business allows work to continue when an emergency happens that could shut down calling in the entire building. When enabled, incoming calls are routed to another phone or a series of phones where agents respond to the call.
Most larger companies will have a single fallback number at another facility that calls will be sent to if calling in one facility fails, but calls can be forwarded to cell phones as well. This is a function that is extremely useful for businesses that need their employees to work remotely for some time. During the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, this became more common, but other situations could require the majority of the employees to work remotely, so a large company should prepare for this so that calls are still received.
Incoming calls are also directed to an automated message that will give the customer details about what is happening and give them an option to leave a message for someone to contact them within a certain amount of time. This is not something that businesses with a large call volume will often consider, but if calls are minimal, it could be beneficial to return calls and keep agents from getting bogged down with taking incoming calls from multiple facilities.
What Providers Offer Remote Call Forwarding?
You need to be able to forward calls at a moment’s notice, and you should also have features that will enable optimized call flows for all of your business locations. Here are three providers that make it easy to divert calls and have useful features when you do need to forward your customers.
Call forwarding is a common feature found with most VoIP providers. For example, with RingCentral, the feature is unlocked at Professional and Office tiers. Their call forwarding allows business users to configure calling to smartphones on the RingCentral mobile app during after hours. Their features even will ring your smartphone or softphone one time before forwarding the call. Ringcentral pricing and plans include four different tiers, so you’ll have call forwarding options no matter the size of your organization.
Jive is a UCaaS powerhouse that’s another popular platform that offers call forwarding features. With Jive’s business phone service, you have the option to forward all inbound calls, or you can set the system to only forward calls when you or your reps are on the line with other clients/customers. Their platform even will forward calls that result in no answers, so if your agents can’t pick up a call, it’ll be forwarded to those who are available. Jive allows you to remotely enable call forwarding features through their control panel or a direct dial system using *72 from any Jive-enabled device.
Grasshopper’s call forwarding features are managed via its app, and with it, you create custom schedules that automatically forward inbound calls to various target numbers. This is programmable based on the time of day, and you have the option to program the system to ring multiple business phones at once. Grasshopper pricing is very competitive and they don’t charge customers extra for call forwarding when they sign up for a virtual number.
More Accessibility for Customers
Customers that feel that they are catered to will stick with your organization, and customer retention is critical for business continuity. Remote call forwarding ensures that someone is always available to cater to your customer’s needs, which translates into better customer experiences. VoIP delivers businesses like yours the ability to quickly and easily forward calls to any number and on any network, so use it so that no customer falls through the cracks.
Wondering what other tools from business VoIP providers you can use to improve the customer experience? Check out our interactive guides so that you know which features will best fit your business.