Recent studies on customer service show that over half of American consumers have decided not to make a purchase they’d previously planned on because of poor customer support from a large or small business.

Virtual business phone systems with call screening features drastically improve customer service, allow for increased employee flexibility, and keep office phone lines clear for important clients.

But what is call screening, and how does it work?

Read on to discover the benefits of features like call forwarding and routing, number blocking, and more.


What is Call Screening?

VoIP call screening is the process of identifying an incoming caller and the specific response a phone system has to that call.

Caller identification, the most familiar part of the call screen process, provides the caller’s name, phone number, and sometimes the caller’s location. It also lets you know when a likely spam caller is on the line. At the most basic level, agents can opt to reject, accept, or let the call go to voicemail.

But what happens when an incoming call is from another business phone line, or a residence where multiple people live?

Advanced call screening connects callers to an automated voice attendant that asks them to state their name and, if needed, the primary reason for their call.

This way, agents know exactly who is on the other line and decide which action to take.

Call routing can also direct their call to the individual or department who can best help them with an issue.


How Call Screening Works

The increasing reliance on VoIP phones and the eruption of hundreds of carriers have changed how a call screening service works.

If someone calls in from a landline, the phone number is registered to a specific line. For those using SIP or PRI connections, the phone system has control over the specific telephone numbers that show up on the caller ID screen.

But finding the phone number that’s making a call to your business isn’t the tricky part — instead, it’s important to understand how these systems identify the name of the caller.

CNAM (“Calling Name”) databases store carrier names and phone numbers of account holders. Whenever an incoming or outgoing call is made, the name and number of the person calling are cross-referenced between the caller’s CNAM service and the callee carrier’s CNAM database.

Each receiving carrier runs these incoming calls through a calling name (CNAM) database to connect phone numbers with the name of the person who owns them.


Call Screening Features to Look For

Call screening features

When evaluating the best business phone service for your company, research a potential provider’s specific call screening features.

While standard Caller ID helps employees to avoid unwanted calls, a sophisticated virtual office phone system provides additional call routing and answering rules beyond simply waiting for phone calls call to go to voicemail.

Automatic call screening can also decline robocalls, permanently block a telemarketer number, and follow pre-determined unknown call settings with a blocked number calls in.


Call Routing

Call routing is an essential call screen feature that directly connects an incoming caller to the appropriate agent or department without putting them on hold first.

When they call in, customers select from a range of menu options read by a virtual assistant, such as “Press 1 for the billing department.” Predetermined answering rules follow a call path based on the caller’s response.

Intelligent call routing software is also used to direct calls after business hours or during the holidays.


Remote Call Forwarding

Remote call forwarding connects incoming callers to the appropriate representatives by forwarding business calls to additional phone numbers aside from the agent’s office desk phone.

For example, if an agent is working from home or on the road, calls that come into their office landline telephone are transferred to their Android smartphone or Apple iOS iPhone after a certain number of phone rings. If the agent doesn’t answer their smartphone, the call could then be transferred to their home office line, or forward to another agent.

Every agent can determine their own call path, allowing for increased flexibility and more immediate customer service.


Call Blocking

Call blocking allows agents to prevent specific phone numbers, area, and zip codes.

Anonymous call rejection blocks incoming calls that do not provide caller ID information, while auto-identification features that block calls from known telemarketing numbers.

In addition to simply blocking the number, you can elect to play an automated prepared message to blocked numbers. Depending on the message, this reduces the chance that they’ll call again and prevents the caller from knowing they have been blocked.

Businesses who wish to reserve certain phone lines for a smaller list of phone numbers only can create an allowed caller list that blocks all other incoming calls.

Call blocking features will work on a landline, a desktop computer, and mobile virtual phone lines.


Do Not Disturb

When an agent does not wish to receive incoming calls for a few hours, but doesn’t want to block calls altogether, the “Do Not Disturb” screen call button feature automatically forwards calls to voicemail or other agents for a set amount of time.

When the agent is available for calls again, they simply turn off the Do Not Disturb feature.


Text-to-Speech Messaging

Text-to-speech messaging is an essential business phone feature that allows agents to send a default or customized message to incoming callers when they’re unable to answer the phone.

The message will then be read aloud to the caller via text-to-speech technology. Messages can provide additional methods of contact, offer estimated wait times, or deliver personalized information to the caller.


The Benefits of Call Screening


forward a call

Call screening features allow agents to prioritize calls according to the severity of the issue at hand and the importance of the client.

This helps to increase customer retention rates, saves employees time, and makes the resolution process much faster.

Additional benefits of screening calls include:


  • Automatic storage of missed call phone numbers
  • Decreased call center abandonment rate
  • Fewer missed calls
  • Increased privacy and security
  • Improved internal communication
  • Customer self-service capabilities
  • Fewer spam calls
  • Increased agent availability when compatible with Android phone or iPhone phone app


What Other VoIP Phone Features Should You Look For?

In addition to real-time call screening, virtual telephony solutions offer features like:

  • Wi-fi video calling
  • Call recording and transcription
  • Integration with existing business software
  • SMS texting
  • Live chat messaging
  • Hot desking
  • Call analytics
  • Voicemail to email
  • Internet fax

Use our interactive comparison tables to learn more about features offered by top business VoIP providers like Grasshopper, Nextiva, Vonage, and more.