The countdown to the holidays has begun—and probably the last thing on your mind right now is assembling a holiday checklist on how to prepare your business phone system for the season. But think about this from your customers’ perspective. For them, the holidays means they’re wondering:
- What will be your business hours during the holidays?
- Who should they call while their primary contact is on vacation?
- What holiday deals are you offering?
Now’s the time to show your customers’ some holiday cheer and exceed their expectations. And your secret weapon is your phone system. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist, so you know exactly what to modify to make this the “most wonderful time of the year” for your customers.
Of course, many of these suggestions depend on how flexible a phone system you’ve got. With older, premises-based phone systems, changes like these take time. And then you’ve also got to plan out how long it will take to switch everything back once the holidays are over. At this point, you’ll need to hustle to have everything ready for December.
But with a newer VoIP phone system (voice over Internet Protocol), changes usually involve recording a few quick messages and making changes using your online portal. You don’t have to call anyone or make physical changes to your system. All it takes is a few clicks of a mouse.
Now that we’re clear on that, here’s that checklist we promised so you can make the most of your phone system—and the holiday season.
#1. Determine holiday hours and input the schedule into your phone system.
The holidays usually mean crazy hours. In the lead-up, many businesses extend their hours to accommodate shoppers. Others cut their hours short because so many people are headed out on vacation.
Before any of these issue hits you, map out what level of service you want to offer and what hours you want to keep over the holidays. Once you’ve nailed down the details, VoIP service providers like Jive allow you to program alternate, time-based call routing paths that kick in automatically to accommodate customers who call in during the holidays.
#2. Divert calls or use call forwarding for when you’re on vacation.
Part of setting up your schedule in your phone system is determining where you want to forward your existing extensions over the holiday break. You don’t want callers to sit waiting while one of your phones rings in an empty office.
A hosted VoIP phone system makes this part a snap. With Jive, you can go online and program the extensions to route automatically to voicemail, or to forward callers to an employee who will be available during holiday hours.
Or, if you’re the kind of worker who never really goes on vacation, you can forward calls to your extension to your mobile device, or even your home phone number. But if that’s the case, maybe you should check out this post on managing your mobile lifestyle.
#3. Record holiday-specific greetings, auto-attendant messages, and on-hold messages.
Surprise your customers when they call in, and add that human touch to your brand, by recording and uploading holiday-based greetings and messaging. This is also a good time to announce your modified hours, days you may be taking off, and provide emergency numbers customers can call during the break. And with Jive, your old recorded messages are saved and you can restore them once the holidays are over.
#4. Promote seasonal deals in your holiday greetings.
Make sure that, as you create holiday-specific messaging for your phone system, you also include information on any seasonal promotions or holiday deals. What better time to make your pitch than with a captive, on-hold audience? Just be sure to keep it short and sweet or you may wind up on the naughty list.
#5. Add extensions and queues for seasonal hires.
If you bring on extra help during the holidays, you probably need to provide them with a phone, their own extension, and perhaps even create new call queues for them to handle. With an on-premises system, this can be a bit of a headache because the lines have to be added manually, usually requiring a technician to come out as soon as he or she can (a tricky prospect during the holidays) and set it up for you.
But if your phone system is hosted, relying on VoIP software instead of hardware, it’s easy to go into your system’s online portal and simply add a few more extensions and create the queues. With some providers, you can order or rent any additional phones you need and have them overnighted to your location.
#6. Create hold-music playlists with holiday music.
Don’t keep playing the same old tunes. Show your callers that you’re extra-engaged by playing season-appropriate, on-hold music for them. If possible, play holiday songs that can connect with your value proposition, or that goes along with any of your current promotions.
With Jive, you can create specific playlists and activate them in no time. So whipping up a holiday mix and uploading it to your dial plan is no sweat.
So don’t let the holidays catch you flat-footed! Reduce your holiday stress and give your customers the gift of consistent and efficient service by using Jive’s holiday checklist. Turn that business phone system into an advantage this season, and not merely another last-minute hassle before you take off for that long winter’s nap.