One of the main stumbling blocks that businesses run into when they decide to expand internationally is routing calls internationally. For some organizations, this can be a breaking point, where a business model may fail under pressure from scaling beyond its means or not anticipating the unforeseen challenges. For savvier businesses, it can be a great opportunity to test how your business does in the global marketplace. One of these “make it or break it” points is communication. More specifically, excellent communication can be traced to how your business routes calls internationally for your customer service department.
In this article, we will take a look at the traditional method of how calls were once routed, and then investigate modern solutions that are changing how customer service calls are routed internationally.
The Traditional Method of How Calls Were Routed Internationally
Before the advent of cloud computing innovations and countries easing communication regulations, making international calls was a complicated affair. Calling internationally began with long-distance operators switching protocols between the caller and the recipient to transfer calls. Dealing with an intermediary of this sort could lead to calls being monitored or limited, especially for countries that were under strict government control. While international direct dialing was introduced in the 1970s, every decade has brought innovations, transferring calls first by cable, radio, satellite, and now with more modern techniques like VoIP, which has made the process much easier and more instantaneous. In fact, the human operator has been replaced with automated services. However, that process still could be troublesome and result in a loss of business from spotty connections that could be lost at any time.
Businesses that dealt with a large volume of calls had to subscribe to expensive plans that catered to international calls, with routing options being limited and sometimes requiring lengthy waiting times while everything synced together. This was a drawback of international call routing then and it could be spotty, especially for mobile tech that was still in its infancy.
Innovations to Routing Calls Internationally
Luckily, technology has caught up to the marketplace’s demand for a reliable solution. That solution, via cloud computing, allows for instantaneous routing to and from anywhere in the world. Service providers, like Global Call Forwarding offer virtual phone number solutions for businesses to route their customer service calls without previous barriers.
Virtual phone numbers are identical to “regular” phone numbers and they are indistinguishable from them. When a caller makes a call to a virtual phone number, that call is routed to another location instantaneously. For instance, a business that subscribes to a virtual phone number in Hong Kong (country code +852) can have calls made to that number forwarded to their dedicated call center in the United States (or wherever the business has its customer service department located). Calls can also be routed through that virtual number in the US to Hong Kong, which shows up on a recipient’s caller ID as a Hong Kong-based number.
This process is known as call forwarding, and it is enabling businesses to take advantage of this new way to make and accept calls.
How Virtual Phone Numbers and Call Forwarding are Changing the Face of International Business
As you may have guessed, there are a number of benefits to having calls forwarded to and from any country instantly.
First, businesses no longer have to establish a physical branch office in a country to begin fielding customer inquiries and orders. With the advent of virtual offices, businesses can forego the rules and regulations that come with setting up a brick and mortar presence. In fact, most customers would prefer to deal with a problem over the phone than in person. This means that actually setting up a physical location can be a detriment to your expansion efforts, as your organization will needlessly spend money that could be funneled elsewhere.
Secondly, virtual phone numbers that route customer service calls immediately can make retrofitting your business remarkably simple. One reason is that virtual phone numbers from most service providers, such as Global Call Forwarding, work with most devices that your business probably already uses to answer and make calls. This significantly reduces the time it takes to integrate new tech into your business model, as you already use it daily to handle your domestic customers.
Third, virtual phone numbers come with a variety of usages and can be coupled with add-ons that can greatly expand how calls are routed and handled. This includes:
- Toll Free Numbers
Service providers of virtual phone numbers can assist businesses with getting low-cost toll free numbers for their international customers that save money and provides a more professional image.
- SMS Forwarding
- Outbound Calling
Services such as Global Call Forwarding offer outbound calling / VoIP features so you can make calls with your new local or toll free number and have it appear on the caller ID.
- Call Recording
You will have the ability to record customer service calls to ensure that communication meets your organization’s standards, as well as compliance with international business standards for industries like finances and banking.
- Time of Day Routing
When your customer base is spread out around the world, it can be problematic to handle their inbound calls efficiently. Time of Day Routing can route calls to various departments of your organization to sync up with time zone differences so your customer service department can provide excellent service at all hours and for all markets.
- Simultaneous Ringing
Because your business may be dealing with increased call volumes during peak times, some of your staff may be busy assisting other customers. With simultaneous ringing, a call is routed to an available staff member. If this is not an option, the phone call can be routed to another department that may be able to answer the inquiry or redirect a call elsewhere.
- Advanced IVR PBX
Advanced IVR PBX is a very useful integrated feature of virtual phone numbers. With this feature, a computer system provides a greeting which will efficiently handle incoming calls, along with directing customers to the right department or extension. When prompted, the caller navigates a customized menu through the use of voice commands and the telephone keypad. This feature can include welcome messages, news/ announcements, prompts, call destinations, alternative contact options, and more.
As you can see, international call routing has come a long way in recent years, providing a wealth of options for businesses that want to access global markets. It remains an invaluable service that can bring enhanced communication services to businesses globally.
Author Bio: Tom Senkus is a writer with over fifteen years of experience. Tom frequently covers marketing and advertising concepts across a variety of industries. For more info, visit www.tomsenkuswriter.com