Five signs your call routing needs an upgrade

Call routing does not have the buzz of mobile marketing, social media, or other technologies touted as the next big thing. Call routing simply gets incoming customer calls where they need to go, as quickly as possible, providing the best customer experience you can offer. When it works well, it seems to just happen in the background. 

Whether you’re a franchisor or a network of corporately-owned stores, every growing business should periodically re-evaluate its marketing tools and methods, including those used to route calls. Perhaps better reporting can generate better marketing metrics or make better decisions. Perhaps your company is outgrowing its call center. Or maybe a growing base of customers calling you from smartphones warrants a more effective call routing method.  

How do you know when your business is ready for a call routing upgrade? Here are five signs.

1. You want to use toll-free numbers.

Sometimes issues arise between a franchisor’s desire to build a brand using nationwide toll-free numbers and a franchisee’s desire to use local numbers to drive call traffic.

Sophisticated call routing can accommodate both nationwide toll-free numbers and local numbers, providing the best of both worlds. And reporting tools that track both toll-free and local numbers can show you where calls are coming from and measure the local and national impacts of different marketing methods.

2.  You've outgrown your call center. 

You may already recognize the value of toll-free numbers to control costs and build your brand at the franchisor or corporate level. Initially it may make sense to utilize a call center to process callers. But at some point, the cost per lead will get out of hand or the number of complaints and hang-ups will rise.

Call centers are expensive on a per-call and per-minute basis and are necessarily limited in how they can help your customers. Conversations must be carefully scripted, and since call-center employees know next to nothing about your products or services, they won’t be able to help your customers as well as you can. Transferring callers multiple times also negatively affects the customer experience. 

If a potential customer makes the effort to call, why not send him or her directly to someone who knows your products and services well?  

3.  More calls are coming from mobile phones.

Smartphones represent the biggest technology-driven change to your business, and you have to respond practically.

Among other things, smartphones present new challenges for call-routing systems. With land lines, routing calls based upon the fixed location of the caller is very straightforward. With cell phones, call routing gets more difficult, because smartphones are mobile rather than fixed, and because there is no national directory for cell phones. With the number portability of smartphones, you can no longer rely on area codes to roughly determine where the caller may be.

An advanced call-routing technology called mobile location routing fixes this problem. It allows all cell phone callers to be routed to the nearest store or business location based upon their actual current location, regardless of the sophistication level of their mobile devices.

4.  You’re struggling with valuation issues for new locations.

This is obviously important to rapidly-growing franchises. Accurately assessing the true value of a new franchise area helps both the franchisor and the franchisee. Sophisticated call-routing solutions track where customer and prospect calls are coming from, and visual reporting tools allow you to aggregate your call data with other relevant information such as demographics, income, and sales.

As a result, you can instantly see areas with great potential and use a set of metrics to reliably and consistently generate valuations.    

Having an objective set of metrics can also help compare areas that differ widely in population density, demographics, real estate costs, etc. Franchisors can also use these tools to help identify the best opportunities to expand in metro areas.

5.  Your organization is growing rapidly.

Rapid growth is a good problem, but when it’s not managed well, it can cause successful enterprises to fail. As you reach certain milestones, it’s always wise to look at new capabilities that may not have been cost effective or practical previously. For some organizations, the tipping point occurs at 10 locations. For others, it may be 100 or 1,000. 

The key question is, where are the bottlenecks? Does your current call routing solution have capacity issues that may cause it to fail as you continue to grow?  Are there ways you can automate call routing to be able to add new offices quickly or react to disasters that would necessitate rerouting? Ultimately, this question ties back to the quality of the customer experience you’d like to offer, and making sure your growth doesn’t hurt it in any way.

As with any technology, sometimes it’s hard to know when you’ve outgrown your current call routing solution and are ready for the next step. Regardless of your size, making sure your customers get the best experience possible whenever they call is always important to your success.