Business phone systems

Handling higher volumes of incoming calls


If your business receives a high volume of incoming calls, you can use automated telephony features to help you deal with them efficiently. These features are particularly important for businesses in consumer-facing sectors, such as call centres.

Common call centre telephony features

Call centres and similar businesses often use a range of advanced features to manage their workload and interact with their customers over the phone. Some of these features include:

  • automatic attendant
  • automatic call distributor
  • skills-based routing
  • call queues
  • advanced call control, recording, monitoring, barging, etc

Automatic attendant

This function greets callers with an introductory message and a list of options. Pressing the relevant number on their telephone keypad directs the caller to the right department or person for their query. An automatic attendant feature can:

  • save time and resources by redirecting incoming calls
  • improve customer experience by connecting the caller with the right person in the shortest time possible

The design of an auto-attendant menu is crucial to the function's success. Keep your greeting, prompts and menu options simple. Customers will get frustrated if the system is making it difficult to reach the right person. Providing an additional option to cover 'all other queries' or 'speak to a service representative' will often be enough to meet the needs of your callers.

Automatic call distributor (ACD)

This function routes incoming calls to the most appropriate agent in the call centre. You can use ACD to gather usage data, such as call duration and wait time, which can help you manage high call volumes with increased efficiency. Many distribution functions also have advanced options that allow you to:

  • present marketing messages to callers while they wait in the queue
  • tell callers their queue position and the expected wait time

You should manage your line capacity carefully to ensure that callers are not kept waiting for too long. If you are playing background music to your callers while they are 'on hold', make sure that the audio you've chosen is sensible. It should be pleasant, fit your brand and at an appropriate sound level - otherwise waiting on hold can turn into an irritating experience for your customers.

Skills-based routing

This functionality can help you optimise the service you provide to your callers. It sends calls to different agents, departments or teams based on customised tags or rules. This way you can direct the caller to the specific staff most qualified to meet their needs.

Integrating telephony and other business tools

When combined with call centre software, telephony can integrate with other business tools to provide comprehensive information about callers. It is common, for example, to integrate telephony with:

  • customer relationship management (CRM) systems
  • e-commerce platforms
  • marketing software
  • chat systems

Integrated software systems can be feature-rich and offer things like:

  • automated screen pop
  • predictive dialler
  • voicemail transcription and notification
  • real-time or historical reporting

Read more about computer telephony integration.