Global call forwarding numbers are an effective telecommunications tool. Not only do they help with centralizing incoming calls from around the world, you can create a virtual PBX system to ensure that your international callers are routed to the correct department or individual. Here’s what you need to know.
Choose Your Global Call Forwarding and Destination Numbers
If you don’t already have a global call forwarding number, you’ll need to order one, making sure the plan supports Interactive Voice Response (IVR) / PBX (ours does). As an example, if you need to receive calls from Italy in your US office, you’d need to order an Italian global call forwarding number and set it up to ring to your US office. This will divert calls from Italy to your main office.
However, what if your receptionist doesn’t speak Italian? Or what if you anticipate receiving a variety of call types such as questions about shipping, technical support, or billing? Using the IVR feature makes it possible to prompt callers to select the appropriate department.
Configure Interactive Voice Response
The Interactive Voice Response feature can be customized to best meet your needs. Common elements include the following:
- A greeting – Depending on how you want to set up your system, the greeting could welcome callers and identify the business before connecting the call to a live person or voicemail. It could also be informational only or prompt the caller to make a choice.
- Prompts / menu options – Like the name implies, Interactive Voice Response is interactive. Thus, you’ll need to set it up with prompts and menu options such as “press 1 for shipping, 2 for technical support.”
You’ll need to set up both for diverting your international phone calls to the appropriate department. Before you configure the IVR feature, it’s helpful to plan it out on paper. Below are a few considerations when planning how to set up the IVR:
- Will there be a choice of languages? If so, this should be your first prompt so callers can choose the appropriate language and/or be routed to a fluent representative.
- Which departments will callers likely need to reach? Write these down along with their direct phone numbers and extensions.
- How will you handle international calls that come in after hours? With time zone differences, it’s likely that your international callers will call you during their business hours, but not necessarily yours. It may be necessary to use time of day routing and an alternate call center, answering service, or voicemail for your after hours calls.
We recommend keeping your system simple, without too many levels of prompts to avoid frustrating your callers. Write a brief script for each prompt and then set up the IVR accordingly. This is a simple process that involves filling out a few forms and following the prompts. Having your different prompts, scripts, and phone numbers in hand will make this task much easier.
After setting up the IVR, test it by calling the international call forwarding number and pressing the keys when prompted. If the system responded as expected, your business is ready to begin receiving and diverting these international calls.
Setting up global call forwarding to use the Interactive Voice Response feature allows you to direct callers to the right people in your office who can help them. It’s also an efficient use of resources and an excellent way to create a “virtual PBX.”