Small Business Telephone System Operation Case Study

by : Kieron James

Historically, UK small businesses have received a poor deal from the telecommunications industry, particularly hardware vendors. Expensive and funtionally-limited telephony systems, beyond the reach of SMEs have left many operating with a single landline and a mobile phone. The advent of hosted telephony applications has revolutionised call-handling for many small firms, offering them the same (and frequently richer) feature-set as fully-loaded PBX systems deployed by much larger organisations.

The case study below provides an illustration of the benefits of using a hosted telephony service:

XYZ Plumbing - A small business with clear telephony needs

XYZ Plumbing is a sole trader, owned and operated by Jim Ravenscroft. Jim's partner, Simone is able to deal with some telephone enquiries, but with two school age children, this isn't always possible. Understandably, Jim is often on the road but he must be accessible at all times to deal with urgent plumbing problems. He also needs to publish a contact number prominently in the Yellow Pages (print and online versions) since this is how he generates new business. However, using his mobile number presents a number of problems:

&bullHe doesn't wish to carry two mobile phones and he's reluctant to give his personal number to customers or publish it in telephone directories;
&bullJim is keen to expand his business and he believes that using a mobile number on his vehicle, advertisements and cards does not create the impression he'd like for the firm;
&bullUnless he published his home telephone number and Simone was always available to take calls, Jim is only able to handle one call at a time. Consequently, he has lost customers to competitors.
&bullJim often receives calls to his mobile out of hours. Sometimes these are urgent but more often than not, callers in the evening are simply after a quotation for new central heating installations - something in which Jim specialises. He has no way of knowing until he answers the call and often he's obliged to spend too long dealing with new enquries at inappropriate times.

Numberstore solved Jim's problems by providing a Freephone 0800 number which automatically and intelligently routes calls to his landline and mobile number according to the time of day. Using Numberstore's online control panel, Jim was quickly able to configure call management to suit his day to day needs. He set up an IVR menu with a professionally recorded voice prompt which operates on a Time of Day Routing Plan as follows:

Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm
&bullBy forcing the CLI to present Jim's 0800 number, Jim knows that it is a business call and not a friend or relative, before he picks up (whether he receives it on his landline or his mobile).
&bullAll calls to Jim's 0800 number are answered instantly with a professional announcement: "Thank you for calling XYZ Plumbing. If your call is urgent, please press 1. For new central heating installations, press 2 and for all other enquiries, please press 3 or hold. Your call will be answered momentarily."
&bullPressing 1 routes to a "Hunt Group". This delivers calls simultaneously to Jim's mobile number and his landline. He can pick up whichever he's closest to at the time. Should he be unable to answer either, the caller is routed to a voice mailbox. Jim had a special prompt recorded for his urgent callers to assure them that they would receive a swift response. Any messages left for Jim are emailed to him instantly. He also receives an SMS message alerting him to the new voicemail. If Jim is by his computer he can play the audio file, if not, he can dial in to listen to the message.
&bullPressing 2 delivers calls only to Jim's landline (not his mobile number). If he's by the phone and able to take a call, he picks up. If not, the caller hears another custom message thanking for them enquiring about Jim's central heating installation service; asking them to leave a brief message and confirming that Jim will contact them shortly. Jim then receives an email with the voicemail message. The email displays the caller's number, making it easy for Jim to return the call, should the caller forget to leave their number.
&bullPressing 3 delivers calls to Simone's mobile number. If Simone is unable to answer, the caller is routed to a mailbox with a general greeting.
&bullIf the caller presses no button, calls are delivered as per option 3.
Out of Hours
&bullAll calls to Jim's 0800 number are answered instantly, but the message is slightly different from the daytime prompt: "Thank you for calling XYZ Plumbing. If your call is of a general nature, please call back between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday or press 1 to leave a message. If you require our services urgently, please press 2."
&bullPressing 2 delivers calls to a special Hunt Group in which Jim has included all possible destination numbers. His landline and mobile number and Simone's mobile are all called simultaneously.
Because Jim has 24/7 access to Numberstore's online call management system, he is able to change the way his calls are answered easily and instantly (with no additional charges for doing so). His 0800 number and intelligent call management have proved invaluable for many other reasons:
&bullHaving an 0800 number allows Jim to move house, change his mobile service provider (and partner!) without changing the all-important contact number for XYZ Plumbing - which now appears in Yellow Pages for the next 12 months. He can update the destination numbers as frequently as he likes.
&bullJim chose a memorable number for his business which makes it easier for those who see his van passing on the motorway to remember Jim's number until they're able to call him.
&bullJim is "punching above his weight". Many plumbers appear in the Yellow Pages but not all offer Freephone 0800 Numbers. Not only does this significantly increase the volume of new enquiries which Jim receives, it allows him to monitor the effectiveness of each Yellow Pages advertisement by analysing inbound call statistics.
&bullJim's business is growing quickly. He understands that he won't always be able to answer calls, but he also knows that he can continue to use his 0800 number even if he ends up sending calls to a forty-seat call centre.

For further information, please visit Numberstore now.

Numberstore is a division of Zimo Communications Limited, a UK digital communications company established with quality of service as its principal objective.