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When activated, a call forwarding service will direct all incoming calls to a number you have specified. For example, all incoming calls on the office landline can be redirected to your personal mobile phone. In this way, all calls will be attended to.
A call forwarding service will also provide other features that can make communication with clients and customers professional and successful. While some services offer more than others, there are some basic attributes that should be furnished by any call forwarding service provider:
- You can automatically forward calls to a single number or multiple numbers. For instance, calls on the office number could be forwarded to your personal phone number or the phone numbers of a set of colleagues. In the case of the latter, no call will be missed as the probability of someone answering the call is higher.
- The calls can be forwarded simultaneously or sequentially.
- A virtual phone number is used which will allow you to hide your personal number. Clients/customers from all over the world can call the virtual phone number which is then forwarded to your phone. This way, you can take every call on your personal handset while ensuring your privacy.
- Since the calls are made to a virtual phone number, you can make sure that international callers will incur local calling costs (or no cost, in case of a toll-free number).
- Callers will also not be aware of the call being forwarded unless you opt for an automated voice or hold music to play. You can also customize this to play a promotional message.
The most important aspect of call forwarding services is the ability to personalize the service to fit your business needs. Most services offer a wide range of options to opt for and charge accordingly. You may also discover new features that are particularly relevant to your business. To get the most out of it, consider the following options while choosing your service:
Usually, calls are forwarded when the line is busy or there is no answer. However, this is not the only possibility. Some services provide the option to screen the incoming call and forward only those numbers that are specified to be forwarded. This can be done in case there is a prior list of numbers.
This feature gives you the control to turn on call forwarding to a number during a specific time of the day. When traveling overseas, the calls can be forwarded to your number during work hours only. There is also the option to forward calls to different numbers at different times of the day.
In case a call has been missed, some services provide the additional option of recording a voicemail. These voicemails can also be transcribed and mailed to your inbox. In such cases, a message will not be missed and important messages are received on time.
Another aspect to consider is opting for an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. An automated voice will greet callers, present the possible options for a call and directs the call accordingly. This is an effective method to screen and forward calls to the concerned person/department. It can also create an impression of a big company for a relatively small cost.
As opposed to sequential rings, simultaneous rings will increase the probability of a call being attended to. When a caller dials the virtual phone number, it is forwarded to multiple representatives at the same time. This feature ensures that the responsibility of taking the call is shared between multiple people.
You can also consider opting for a toll-free number that clients/customers can call. It increases the accessibility of your business to a global audience. While this feature may be an additional cost, it increases customer satisfaction and lets you expand your business from the comfort of your current location.
Now that the various options are clear, you can choose a service that fits your business needs. However, to ensure that your service does not backfire evaluate your decision based on the following factors:
The most important determinant in choosing a call forwarding service should be quality. It is essential to have a clear and noise-free connection to provide a good experience to clients/customers. Usually, a system that relies on Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) provides better voice quality when compared to one that relies on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This is because VoIP draws heavily from broadband – which makes the quality inconsistent. However, VoIP also provides more advantages and customization. It is thus recommended to choose a good VoIP service along with a solid broadband connection and good hardware.
Ease of access and control is also crucial. Most services have a user-friendly online portal through which you can operate and customize the settings of your call forwarding provision. You can also track the incoming calls in real time and redirect them according to convenience. Additional features such as call recording can further assist with quality control. Thus, there will be a record of details of the incoming calls along with records of calls and voicemails. Some services also offer control through mobile apps making it easy to control on-the-go. The service must also be easily customizable. Hence, the user interface of the platform (on the computer, tablet and smartphone) must also be considered.
Although a business must value quality over cost, the price must also be considered as a prime factor. To make sure you do not lose money over substandard quality, choose a service that provides a free trial period (or a money-back guarantee). It is also important to consider how the service charges you: per-call or per-talk time. When you pay per call, there is a flat rate for each incoming call whereas when you pay by the minute, you pay for exactly what you use. In the case of the latter, enquire about how the service provider calculates the call time. Some services may also charge a monthly fee. This usually includes a certain set of minutes as well as fixed features. Depending on the budget the monthly package could include basic features and limited minutes or advanced features and a large number of minutes. A good call forwarding service can cost anywhere between 12 to 50$ per month.
Although the advantages of call forwarding outweigh the drawbacks, the awareness of what could go wrong can help avoid unpleasant experiences.
- The rare issues involve calls forwarded to the wrong number or at the wrong time. These can be easily corrected by changing the settings. It is also important to consider services that allow you to schedule specific timings for call forwarding.
- Another unpleasant experience could be a choppy voice quality that results in frustrated clients/customers and a missed opportunity for your business. Since most services rely on broadband, it is worthwhile to invest in a good internet connection with adequate bandwidth. This will secure the quality of your connections while you reap the benefits of a VoIP-based service.
- Incoming call traffic can sometimes disturb the smooth operation of a call forwarding service. Control traffic by opting for a service that allows comprehensive scheduling. By assigning different numbers at different times, calls will be accordingly forwarded during different time zones. This is particularly to deal with international callers.
- Finally, choosing a reputed service with experience will help you avoid most problems associated with call forwarding services. Don’t forget to test and verify your forwarding plan and its features.
- When choosing a service, opt for those that provide customization. It is important to pick (and pay for) only those aspects that are necessary for your business.
- Forward your calls to a number based on the location of your callers. A local enterprise can choose a number with a recognizable area code whereas a toll-free number will be apt for businesses with a global client or customer base.
As a small business, answering calls at a desk may not be possible at all times. A call forwarding service should be a cost-effective and time-saving measure. It is thus important for the forwarding to be simple and seamless. A good call forwarding service will ensure smooth communication with clients/customers. It is important to invest in the right service so that you can focus on the various responsibilities of running a business.