Do you know what a telephone policy actually needs to cover? Many companies know they should have a policy, but do a haphazard job with its execution. And that can, in fact, be worse than not having one at all! So roll up your sleeves, because here are some points you really mustn’t forget when it’s policy writing time.
A comprehensive approach to telephony
Even if you already have a telephone policy and a capable telephony system, one or two things might still feel a little bit off. Maybe some employees haven’t recorded a personal voicemail message, others forget to dial the right call directions, and a third just dropped their phone for them umpteenth time. By creating a clear, straightforward telephone policy that specifies what routines and processes apply, you’ll easily avoid the most common telephony related problems – and contribute to the company’s team spirit.
Tip! Consult with internal experts. Although the CMO should own the policy document as a whole, it is a good idea to get several people involved in its creation. Heads of Sales and Marketing are bound to have plenty to contribute – but your Head of IT and receptionist may have valuable input when it comes to how employees should install or update their phones, or to the best way to respond in a telephone queue.
Most important policy part? The company why!
Before you sit down to start writing your policy, you need to define why you need one in the first place. Make sure to describe its purpose succinctly in the very introduction of your policy – so that every employee can read exactly why the policy matters, and how they’ll affect the organisation if they don’t handle its telephony accordingly. Employees often feel stressed by frequent phone calls, but it’s easy to forget that the company have invested time, energy, and money to generate those calls. Each call should be treated with respect – a whole deal could be behind it!
Companies that don’t have a telephone at all miss out on the opportunity to streamline what may be their most important channel of communication, by far. If, on the other hand, you have a policy but neglect to define the purpose, the policy will result in little more than moaning from your employees (and no-one will care what it says). To put it bluntly: Not answering your phone right is as counterproductive as tearing down billboards advertising your company.
What you expect from employees
In order to make clear what the telephone policy entails in practice, it’s crucial that you define what you expect from those who’ll actually be using it. Spend as much time as you do on your brand and marketing on your one on-one communication with customers, both spoken and written.
Examples of what the telephone policy should cover:
● How to handle your extension. What if someone calls while you’re in a meeting, sick, or out on holiday? How will the caller be redirected?
● How to handle your mobile phone. A modern smartphone can be more expensive than a work computer. How are you expected to take care of your phone? How often will you get a new one? What happens if you lose or break it?
● What are the responsibilities for team leaders? There are several key people throughout an organisation who aren’t just responsible for their own telephony, but also for supervising teams and colleagues. How can these people view performances?
● How to handle redirects. By setting up redirects or different profiles in your phone, you can adjust what number will be displayed to the caller, how the calls will be directed, when they’ll go to voicemail, how numbers are displayed during work hours and after hours respectively.
● How to handle your calls. Set up routines for how frequently you should check your voicemail, and when you should get back to the caller at the latest. Is it within 24 hours, or within 2?
● How much data you have. Larger companies with many employees need to regulate data for the different subscriptions. How many GB do you actually need?
● What goes for personal mobile phones? When and how should personal mobile phones be connected to the telephony system?
● How do you answer your phone? What greeting phrases should you use? What should each employee say for their voicemail message? Do you want spoken redirects taking the customer to the right people?
● What goes for different roles within the organisation? Different roles have different needs regarding availability and routines. Should a salesperson be as available as a receptionist or someone in support?
A phone call always matters
When creating your telephone policy, it’s essential to keep your customers as the main point of focus at all times. These days, many people prefer to communicate with corporations through email or chats – so when they do call, it’s probably for an important reason. The person on the other end of the line wants to speak to someone, ASAP. Phone calls are still the most efficient way to solve a problem, and it’s good to keep that in mind as you write your telephone policy.