Using ‘Call Groups’ to route customer calls

3cx-call-groupsA potential supplier is called, and the phone rings and rings – and the call isn’t answered! Do they ring again? – or do they try a different company? If you are that supplier, you know how important it is to keep your customer relationships, reduce that ring-time and to answer every call that comes to you …

The ‘traditional’ switchboard or PBX system had an Operator or Receptionist acting as the ‘gate-keeper’, answering all calls, and passing them on to the appropriate person or department – or in some cases, screening & blocking the call completely! However, businesses today are changing the role of the Receptionist, and using technology to ensure that calls still get through to the right person or department, even when the Receptionist is already handling a call, having a break, or greeting visitors. This is good news for the Receptionist as they are no longer ‘chained to their chair’, and can take a wider role and responsibility in your business.

You might think that we’d tell you that you need an Auto-Attendant to front-end your phone system (press button 1 for Sales, button 2 for Accounts etc.), but in most cases, this is not necessary. A much simpler mechanism is to have incoming calls sent to a ‘ring group’ consisting of several extensions where the call is presented to members of the group either sequentially (prioritised hunt), or simultaneously (ring all) so that whoever is free to take the call can do so. Where a Receptionist is employed, a common strategy is to have the incoming call ring for a short period at their desk, then forward on into a ring group where it can still be answered within a reasonable time.

Hunt groups are ideal if you have a hierarchy of knowledge, skills or expertise e.g. if you can’t get to Mary, then go on to Fred, then on to Linda. However, hunt-groups do introduce a delay in answering because the call has to ring & time-out at each extension before moving on to the next.

Ring-all groups are ideal where it is important that the call is answered quickly, and where anybody in that team has the knowledge and skills to handle the caller.

Ring groups are ‘fed’ by calls coming into your business on specific numbers and therefore, it is possible to have different types of ring-groups set up to match the needs of your callers. For example, somebody calling the accounts department may appreciate being connected with the FD first, or then their deputy as a fall-back. But, people calling your Sales department would appreciate being answered quickly by any of the sales staff able to take their order.

Foxhall’s 3CX & Yeastar phone systems provide the following to help your customers contact you:

  • Prioritised Hunt‘ groups to pass calls through a group of extensions one-by-one.
  • All Call‘ groups to simultaneously present a call to a group of extensions.
  • Flexibility in deployment and use of Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers so that key people and departments can be dialed directly.
  • Different call routing plans for in and out of hours service mean that the calls can be handled differently when the office is closed.
  • Call routing can include mixtures of individuals and groups so that callers are answered through all kinds of ‘what-if’ scenarios.
  • Call groups can be edited quickly and easily to put people in, or take people out – so that you can match your staff to your customers – even if staff changes are frequent.
  • Call groups can present information to the phone displays, so that users know what departments or services have been dialed by the caller.

So, call groups are a very simple mechanism that can make it easy to ensure that your customers can get through to you quickly, in almost any circumstance, and talk to the people who are going to help them most efficiently. Contact us at Foxhall Solutions to talk about how Call Groups can help your business.

Make your Sales Campaigns ‘smart’ with 3CX


3CX has some very good and helpful features that lend themselves to making it easy to handle sales & marketing campaigns. For example, you might want to sell; green widgets, blue widgets and yellow widgets – and see which widget you get the most sales inquiries about during the month, and to help with production scheduling.

Or – you might want to sell to different towns around your county and determine if it’s town A, town B, or town C that is your best customer.

Both of these scenarios are now very easy to set up due to the ease of obtaining and applying Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers to SIP Trunk line groups for marketing campaigns targeted at products and/or sales regions. Using our example – your website might advertise a contact number of 01473 123456 for green widgets, 01473 123457 for blue widgets, and 01473 123458 for yellow widgets. The same can be done for sales regions … However, it is notable that we can also arrange phone numbers with area codes appropriate to the places where a product is advertised – and there is no real limit to the amount of DDI numbers you might have put aside for this purpose.

Incoming calls can be targeted at named call groups which always ring the same group of sales agents in your business – but -present the call differently depending on the number used by the caller. 3CX can present the call to these groups with a short ‘name’ on the display of the phone. This means that your sales staff can answer calls specifically, in a way most helpful to your caller. An incoming call could show ‘BlueWidgets’ on the phone display (see above), allowing the agent to pick up the call and greet the caller with “Thank you for calling Foxhall Solutions – How can I help you with your enquiry about our blue widgets?”

We have used this same configuration for businesses who need to appear as ‘multiple companies’, or ‘virtual branch offices’ for their clients. These businesses have calls arriving on different DDI numbers depending on which ‘company’ has been called. In this case, the phone’s display will show the Agent which company the caller is expecting to talk to, and they can answer the call accordingly.

ring-group-statsAfter the campaigns have commenced, and you want to see the number of calls that have come in on each number (i.e. for each widget, or for each town), it is just a matter of logging into 3CX’s integrated call reporting package, accessing the call group statistics, choosing a date & time period, and then looking at all – or selected – call-groups, to see how many calls were received and answered for each (click the graphic for a better view).

We make use of several features of SIP Trunks and 3CX to provide these facilities, as follows:

  • SIP Trunk line groups can have channels added within 24-hours, and with no install costs.
  • SIP Trunk groups may have Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers applied in any quantities – with any geographic, or non-geographic number range.
  • 3CX has comprehensive capability to set up ring-groups and/or call queues so that calls coming in on DDI numbers, can be routed to specific groups of users.
  • 3CX allows us to name the groups/queues and have that name presented with the caller ID along with the incoming call, on the display of the user’s phone.
  • 3CX offers a huge & diverse variety of ‘over-flow’ options to allow those calls that can’t be answered (all agents are busy, or after-hours), to still be answered – ranging from voice-mail, through to off-site call-handling services.
  • 3CX includes a powerful call reporting package which allows you to view incoming call statistics for each or all groups & queues.

Give us a call at Foxhall Solutions – 01787 320 402 – to discuss how this powerful feature could help your business.