Top 5 things YOU MUST DO NOW with your office phone system

by Jeff Wiener on October 27, 2009

Angry caller19 years in Telecom, thousands of customer meetings, and I am constantly amazed by some of the very common mistakes companies still make with their business phone system.

Like really common mistakes.

Want to upset your customers ? Then don’t bother reading the rest of this article.

Care about customer service or what your callers think ? Then read on.

In no particular order:

Number 1:
Automated Attendant Greetings that go nowhere, and Automated Attendant Greetings that go everywhere
Let’s address these.

AA greetings that go nowhere. A call into your main company number gets answered by an automated attendant greeting that suggests menu options, which when pressed, don’t go anywhere, or worse, go straight to voice mail.
Press “1” for service and your call gets hung up.
Press “1” for service and your call just rings and rings

AA greetings that go everywhere. This one really gets me. I hate calling some companies, particularly the bigger organizations. You feel like you’re lost in voice mail hell. Menu options, menu options, menu options. Are you tired of menu options ? Maybe you should review your AA greetings. Have more then 3 choices off the automated attendant and you have one too many.

Try calling Bell Canada’s ExpressVu. Listen to the options. That’s what you shouldn’t do !

I call it the “Bell ExpressVu challenge”. My wife made me cancel our Bell Expressvu service (long story, read here). Try this test for yourself – call: 888-759-3474. See how long it takes you to figure out which menu option to press to cancel your service !

Number 2:
Automated Attendant greetings that sound like they were recorded by your grandmother. I love my grandmother. She’s great. I wouldn’t get her to record the automated attendant greeting though. To some organizations this is a complete afterthought. Our technicians sit down with the company to record the greetings. The receptionist – “Sie können nicht sprechen deutsch”

The greeting. The voice. Ouch.

That’s your company’s image. It’s the first thing people hear when they call into your company !

We work with an extremely reputable firm that charges $40 / prompt for very professional recordings.

Number 3:
When you press “0” you should always always always always get a live body.

No live body around.

Then find one.

Did I make this point clear. Always have a live person available at the other end of a “0” out. And don’t make it so difficult for your callers to get live assistance. Some companies, despite best recommendations otherwise, don’t even offer their callers the option of pressing “0” !

Unless you’re the Federal Government, you will never get away with this.

Number 4:
Hold Times Do Matter
No. It’s not OK for your callers to wait on hold for 5 minutes. Again, unless you’re the Federal Government or giving away money, people won’t wait. Or, if they have to wait they will be pissed.

Sure. You can install an ACD queue. Install all of the metrics you can find. Monitor them, and make sure your callers are answered in less then 1 minute.

If you’re not doing this then I can assure you, your competitors are. I work with them !

Number 5:
Static on your radio station or “beep beep” when you get put on hold.

Go ahead. Call your company. Ask someone to put you on hold. What do you hear ?

A constant stream of beep beep … Maybe static on your radio station when put on hold.

Fix it.

Every phone system has a music on hold port. Go buy a CD player. Put some light rock, jazz … into the CD player. Press play. There. That’s better.

I could probably go on and on. There are probably another 10 more “DO NOT DO’s”. These 5 get my goat.

Written by: Jeff Wiener. Follow by: RSS, Twitter,, or Friendfeed


Brenda Gonsalves October 27, 2009 at 11:18 am

Jeff, very nicely put together. These kinds of quirky reminders go a long way.

BoB.. October 28, 2009 at 5:48 pm

My big irritaqtion is when an A/A message prompts the number first.
Press 1 for this..
Press 2 for that..
it should allways be:-
For this perss 1…
For that thess 2…

WHY?? If you dont know, let you know i will…
“What did it say??? Press six or was it seven???. Oh shi- , i wonder if 0 starts over agin?”.


phone system January 8, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Nice post you have . Auto Attendant is the front liner in receiving calls.

Steve Atkinson January 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Totally agree with what you are saying, but I have one small problem with item 5. Businesses should not and legally can not just grab any music and put it on their Music on Hold.

Recorded music is protected and a business needs to purchase the rights. Either through music agencies such as BMI, ASCAP etc or through other legal resellers.

Fines have been and are leveled against companies who are not legal.

phoneplans January 9, 2011 at 2:40 am

Jeff, very nicely put together. These kinds of quirky reminders go a long way.

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