Kerry Pitt, Chief Strategy Officer at EF-group

Gemma Spilling

2023 is all about upgraded tech at EF-group, from our Marketing hub to our accounting software it’s been a busy few months of project management and system migrations. One platform that can often be overlooked in a lot of businesses is the telephony system.

These systems provide vital functionality but are often not reviewed frequently because ‘they do the job’ intended, but what if upgrading your telephony platform means it could do more for your clients and internal teams?

Read on as EF-groups Chief Strategy Officer, Kerry Pitt, talks all things telephony, customer interaction and efficiency as we catch up with her to find out what software migration we’ve focussed on next.   

It’s just to answer calls…. or is it?

Statistics show that the average business phone system is typically productive for around five years, after which maintenance reduces or features are not up to date and often this is silently hurting the performance of the business. However, since the pandemic the need for fresh new telephony tech has increased, with hybrid working being the main driver of needing new feature rich platforms.

We were no exception to this, with teams now becoming hybrid, our sales and account managers back on the road and new employees working remotely we needed to ensure that our client and supplier interactions could be handled efficiently from anywhere. Whilst platform flexibility was a key driver, the time had also come for us to review our customer contact approach and uncover the opportunities to drive efficiencies for clients, suppliers, and ourselves, but where do you start when looking at a telephony migration?

Whether it’s your first telephony project or your tenth, considerations for the features that make a big difference to how your business operates is always key.

Some platform features can bring small, incremental efficiencies for your users whilst others drive systemic improvements to your client and business processes. Usually identifying with how you want your clients, and in our case, suppliers, to interact with your business is the best place to start. Thinking about what contact channels you want to have available, how you would like your new system to handle those interactions and where those interactions should be directed to are key starting points.

Other key considerations are any integration requirements you may have such as CRM systems and ‘on the road’ mobile work forces. It’s also important to think about administrative control, is call recording important to you, what data and statistics need to be visible to your team and do you need fully accessible reporting dashboards? After asking ourselves all the above (and more!) we were ready to kick off our telephony migration project and after a short tender process, chose Horizon Contact as our platform of choice. Its flexibility gave us exactly what we needed from a location, call transfer and IVR perspective and it’s simple to use, feature rich user interface has allowed us to drive efficiencies within our customer service teams.

It’s not always easy to select the right platform and with a densely populated marketplace, deciding on the right one for you can be an overwhelming process, here’s our top tips on what to consider when upgrading your telephony tech!

  • Where are your users located?

Do you have remote workers, multiple sites, or on the road teams that need calls diverted to mobiles? How big are your teams and do they all need telephone access? Asking these questions will help to confirm what type of platform is best suited to your business.

  • What do you need from your supplier?

Suppliers should be accredited by the telephone system manufacturers; they should have fully trained and experienced engineers and a package with dedicated technical support should you need it. Do they offer set up consultancy services, can they work with your in-house tech teams to provide support with set up and configuration and what do their training packages look like? These should all be key things you look for when reviewing the providers available. 

  • Telephone System Features

What features should the system have to maximise your business operations? Do you need:

  • Virtual IVR
  • Hunt Groups
  • Quality Analyst software
  • Call recording and reporting
  • Call forwarding and transfer
  • Call Queuing
  • Skill prioritisation and administration
  • Computer telephone integration
  • Centralised messaging and voicemail to email

Getting this right is one of the most important parts of the project.

  • Know your budget!

Telephony platform costs vary greatly depending on features, number of licences required and whether certain aspects of the system are included or ‘bolted on’ additional – look out for this as it’s a great way for telephony companies to tie you in without you fully understanding the hidden costs of bolt on packages that were demonstrated as built in features!

There are many other considerations but the key to a successful telephony roll out is ensuring you map out the specific and individual requirements of your business not just for today but for tomorrow too, no-one wants to be on a platform that is outdated within months of migration!

If you’re keen to understand more on how a project of this type could benefit your business, get in touch Kerry… she’s a bit of a self-confessed telephony nerd!

Gemma Spilling