International call forwarding provides companies of all sizes with a convenient way to communicate with an international customer base.
Once you have a global call forwarding number (or dozens of them as the case may be), your international customers can dial a local number without concerns about international calling costs or conventions.
Meanwhile, call divert allows a single call center to handle calls from around the world at affordable per minute rates. If you’re familiar with local and global call forwarding, you likely have the basics of this communications method down. Get more out of your virtual number by following these advanced international call forwarding tips.
1. Set up local ring tones
Did you know that the ringing sound you hear when you dial a phone number is sounds different in various countries? After a lifetime of making calls within your own country, wouldn’t you be distracted if suddenly the ringing sound sounded different? Though it’s not overly alarming, a foreign sounding ring tone could cause your callers to pause. It draws attention to itself. If you’d prefer not to distract your global callers in any way or draw attention to the fact that your international forwarding number is unlike other numbers your customers dial, use an international call forwarding plan that has a local ring tone feature. This ensures that your international callers hear the same ring tone that they always hear when calling companies within their countries.
2. Use time-of-day routing
Perhaps the biggest challenge associated with international call forwarding is time differences. Business hours for your main office will not always align with your customers’ business hours. With time of day routing and creative staff scheduling, you can overcome this problem. For each country that you serve, you will need to determine which hours to answer calls live and which to route to voicemail based on local time in the targeted country. With time of day routing, you can designate how calls will be handled based on when those calls take place. For example, you’ll likely want to have agents answer calls during normal business hours for the countries that you serve even if that means you need to bring staff into your call center in the middle of the night. Since call volume is likely to drop after five local time, you can then route those calls to voicemail which frees your staff to handle calls in other time zones.
3. Set up a customized greeting
When your international callers call your virtual number, you can either answer the call in person, send it to voicemail, or let an auto attendant greet the caller and then route the call to the appropriate extension or mailbox. A short, customized greeting in the caller’s language is a friendly, professional option. Each virtual phone number that you have can have its own unique auto attendant greeting.
4. Use Caller ID to route calls to the best agent
Another challenge with global call forwarding involves language differences. If your US-based business serves customers in Italy, Spain, and Brazil, you will have callers that speak Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Obviously, you will want to staff your call center with agents who speak these languages. While you could set each virtual number to ring to your main call center number and then have your agents transfer callers to someone who speaks their language as needed, it’s smarter to use Caller ID to route calls to the right agent in the first place. For example, you could set up routing so that anytime a call comes in using your Italian virtual number, those calls will be routed to the desks of your Italian-speaking agents. The same is true of calls originating from Spain and Brazil. When using Caller ID to route calls, you have two options. You can either have the virtual number displayed or the caller’s own caller ID number. Many companies find it easier to route calls based on the virtual numbers that they have while others prefer to see the caller’s actual phone number.
5. Adjust maximum wait times as needed
Virtual numbers can forwarded through a sequence of numbers, ensuring that should a call go unanswered at one location, the call will be diverted to an alternate number or voicemail. For example, if you have three work-from-home Italian-speaking agents, you could set up your global call forwarding number to ring to agent 1 first. If that call is not answered within a given time period, the call would then be diverted to agent 2, followed by agent 3. One of the problems with such a sequence is that the wait time may be too long; your customer could hang up before the call is finally answered. Fortunately, maximum wait times can be adjusted. You may need to experiment with wait times to find the right balance.
6. Set up simultaneous ringing
If you’d rather have calls answered as quickly as possible, use simultaneous ringing. In the example above, instead of going through a sequence with wait times, all three agents’ phones would ring at the same time.
International call forwarding is an effective tool with a variety of features. Fine-tune your global call forwarding numbers by using advanced features and ensure that your callers receive prompt service from a friendly agent who speaks their language.