When managing a call center, the efficiency of your operation is paramount, and the platform you use plays an integral role in this. A fundamental feature of most modern contact center platforms is call forwarding. This feature is more than just a nice-to-have; it's an absolute necessity for most call centers.
Brief Overview of Call Forwarding
Call forwarding is a telephony feature that automatically redirects a telephone call from the dialed number to a different, pre-specified number. This capability is highly useful for handling high call volumes, distributing calls evenly among agents, and ensuring no call goes unanswered.
While call forwarding is usually a feature of most call center platforms, in some use cases, call forwarding may be implemented at the telco provider (so that calls are forwarded based on rules set at the phone switch level… thereby forwarding calls even before they hit the call center). For example, telco providers like Bandwidth.com provide a user interface to configure call forwarding rules at the telco network level. Implementing forwarding at the telco level is often used in situations where a call center does not want calls on a certain number (or calls to a number at a certain time of day) to actually hit the call center ACD (e.g., to save money or reduce system load).
How Call Forwarding Works
The actual process behind call forwarding is relatively simple. When a call is made to a particular number associated with a call center, the call center ACD checks if call forwarding has been enabled for the dialed number. If so, instead of ringing at the dialed number, the call is automatically rerouted to another specified number. The redirection could be to another agent, another call center queue, a voicemail box, another call center (such as an overflow call center) or even a personal cell phone, depending on the settings.
Call forwarding can also be configured to route calls out of a call center queue (e.g., if no agents are available to handle the call or if a predicted wait time is greater than a predetermined SLA setting).
Example of How Call Forwarding Works in Modern Platforms
Let's take a look at how call forwarding works in a practical scenario, using the an example of a modern call center platform (e.g., such as the Five9 call center software). In most modern platforms, managers can set up call forwarding rules based on time of day, agent availability, or type of call. For instance, during off hours, incoming calls can be forwarded to an outsourced call center or an automated service. Similarly, if an agent is on a break, their calls can be forwarded to another agent who is currently available. If no agents are available to handle a call, calls can be forwarded to an overflow center, to another queue, or to some other destination. This flexibility and customization allow call centers to maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Types of Call Forwarding
There are several types of call forwarding that cater to different needs:
- Unconditional Call Forwarding: All calls are automatically forwarded to another number without ringing at the dialed number.
- Conditional Call Forwarding: Calls are forwarded based on certain conditions, such as no answer, busy, or unreachable.
- Time-Based Call Forwarding: Calls are forwarded based on the time of day or day of the week.
- Selective Call Forwarding: Only calls from certain numbers are forwarded.
- Telco Call Forwarding: The telco provider will forward calls that meet certain rules or criteria (thereby bypassing the call center switch).
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Call Center Software with Call Forwarding
When choosing a call center software that offers call forwarding, consider the following:
- Flexibility and Customization: The software should allow for custom call forwarding rules based on various criteria such as time, day, or agent availability.
- Ease of Use: The software should have an intuitive interface that makes setting up and changing call forwarding rules easy.
- Integration: The call forwarding feature should integrate seamlessly with other features of the software such as call recording, reporting, and CRM systems.
- Reliability: The software should reliably execute call forwarding rules without fail to prevent dropped or missed calls.
Benefits of Call Forwarding
Call forwarding offers numerous benefits for call centers:
- Increased Availability: Call forwarding ensures that calls are always answered, regardless of agent availability or time of day.
- Improved Customer Satisfaction: By reducing wait times and preventing missed calls, call forwarding can significantly improve customer satisfaction.
- Efficient Use of Resources: Call forwarding allows for efficient distribution of calls among available agents, reducing idle time and improving productivity.
Example Call Center Software Providers with Call Forwarding
Here are three providers that offer robust call forwarding features:
- Genesys: Genesys offers comprehensive call forwarding capabilities, allowing managers to set up complex call forwarding rules based on various criteria.
- RingCentral: RingCentral’s cloud-based call center solution offers easy-to-use call forwarding with excellent integration capabilities.
- Nextiva: Nextiva’s call center software provides flexible call forwarding options, including automatic forwarding of all incoming calls to any number.
How to Effectively Implement Call Forwarding in Your Call Center
Implementing call forwarding effectively involves a strategic approach:
- Understand Your Call Patterns: Analyze your call data to understand peak times, call durations, and agent availability. This information can help you set up call forwarding rules that align with your business needs.
- Set Up Forwarding Rules: Based on your call pattern analysis, set up call forwarding rules. For instance, during peak hours, you might want to forward calls to your most experienced agents. During off-hours, you could forward calls to an outsourced call center or an automated service.
- Decide where to forward from: Do you want to forward at the telco level or at the call center switch? The answer may depend on whether your telco provider allows forwarding, and may also depend on whether you want certain calls to hit your call center switch or not.
- Train Your Agents: Ensure that your agents understand how call forwarding works and what they need to do when a call is forwarded to them. This includes understanding how to handle calls from different types of customers and how to use the features of your call center software effectively.
- Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review the effectiveness of your call forwarding rules. If you notice that certain rules are leading to dropped calls or longer wait times, adjust them as necessary.
Remember, the key to effective call forwarding is flexibility and continuous adjustment based on your changing business needs and customer expectations.
In conclusion, call forwarding is a powerful feature that can significantly enhance the efficiency and customer satisfaction of your call center. When selecting call center software, ensure it provides robust call forwarding options that meet your specific needs. Providers like Genesys, RingCentral, and Nextiva are examples of providers that provide advanced call forwarding capabilities, but most modern platforms also provide this feature.