Most people take phones for granted. They use them constantly, yet never pause to think about how important phones are to the way we live as modern humans. Phones are more than a simple convenience; they’re an integral part of how our society is organized and communicates.
At Weave, our entire approach is based on recognizing how phones can be used as a tool for good in people’s lives. We understand that some of the most important conversations you ever have will take place over the phone, whether it’s concerning a job firing or hiring, the turning point of a relationship, or the death or birth of a loved one. We know; phone conversations get heavy.
Despite the importance of this tool, many businesses, including healthcare providers, procrastinate updating their phones and stick with what we refer to as the Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS. Sticking with an outdated, analog model of telephony not only hampers the productivity of you and your staff, but it also impacts the customer service provided to your clients and potential clients. The telephone industry is evolving rapidly, and we want to help you adapt.
Before we let you know the ways our phone system can dramatically improve your customers’ experiences with your practice, we’ve included a summary of what’s brought phone systems to this point and a list of some of the terminology used in today’s telephone market.
A Short History of the Telephone
Throughout the nineteenth century, several technological developments occurred that allowed scientists to begin to transmit sound over long distances. Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his telephone in 1876 and is often credited with its invention. The telephone quickly became indispensable for governments, businesses, and households.
Telephone comes from Greek, where “tele” means far and “phone” means voice. The words come together to mean “distant voice.” Phones are considered duplex devices, so the transmission of sound moves in the direction of both users simultaneously.
By the early twentieth century, Western Electric had developed and introduced the 202-type desk set for the Bell System, a phone designed to benefit the home and office user. In the 1930s, the rotary dial became commonplace and continued to be a popular model throughout the middle of the century. Telephone networks expanded significantly after World War 2 as the country spent vast resources on strengthening and developing much of its infrastructure.
Soon, phones started resembling something akin to our current models. AT&T invented Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signaling, or what we refer to as Touch-Tone, in 1963. The first mobile phones were introduced in 1973, though they weren’t popularized for another 20 or 30 years.
In today’s world of telephony, businesses are increasingly switching to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, in order to cut costs and increase efficiency. This means they’re leaving behind landlines and utilizing the speed and functionality of the internet.
We’ve already thrown out a number of telephoning terms that may be new, and we want you to be well informed when it comes to the current phone landscape before making a decision regarding the direction your practice’s phone capabilities will take. So, next we’ve included a list of common acronyms you’ll see when discussing or reading about business phone systems.
How Weave’s Phone System Can Improve the Customer Experience
So, now that you have some background in phone history and the current industry jargon, we can get down to the nitty-gritty of how the right phone system will improve your customers’ experiences. We believe we have the right system to reinvent and revolutionize the way your business interacts with your customers. Here are five specific improvements our system can provide.
- Making Electronic Records easy to access. Weave’s system is digital. Not only can it assist with basic tasks such as recording conversations and keeping track of valuable statistics on missed calls, it also allows you and your staff to instantly pull client information. This streamlines the entire customer phone interaction and leaves no customer question unanswered.
- Perfecting Quality of Service with oversight capabilities. Weave’s phone system allows you to scroll through call history, view phone activity metrics, and record numerous calls. You can go back and see how to avoid missed calls and show your staff ways to be more efficient and polite over the phone. Remember, QoS isn’t determined by a provider, it’s determined by the customer. As you analyze call data and develop your staff’s customer service skills, your customers will notice and show up at your office with greater enthusiasm.
- Utilizing VoIP instead of POTS. Weave replaces your analog system and gives your practice ten free Polycom phones. This departure from a Plain Old Telephone Service allows you to avoid additional fees for call times and long-distance calls. Features like customized on-hold music and voice mailbox messages make calling your practice more personable and pleasant. Customers notice the subtle and drastic differences between analog and digital telephony.
- Moving toward completely Unified Communications. With Weave’s system, emergency calls from customers can be sent as an audio file to an email as a text so off-site staff can respond to urgent needs. Customer voicemails appear in a list much like they would on a smartphone. These easy-to-use interfaces help customers reach your team when they need you most and make it more likely that they’ll be contacted by your staff as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Shortening wait times with Direct Inward Dialing. By using Weave’s phone system, you can customize inbound and transfer numbers. You are also able to set up phone directories and pre-program important numbers. Weave also sets you up with an intercom system to page various phones throughout your office. All these features will make your practice uniquely equipped to help customers reach the exact expert they need to solve their concern, select an appointment time, or access a record.
The Right System, The Right Experience
Many businesses don’t know how much their current phone system affects their customers’ experiences. The way businesses communicate with their customers has changed exponentially over the past 150 years or so, especially with the advent of digital communications. Indeed, the types of networks and systems available are so overwhelming that some places of business choose to stick with their outdated analog systems.
Fortunately, others have realized or are realizing what the right phone system can do to improve communication with customers and potential customers alike. The right system makes information easily accessible, perfects customer service interactions, uses the internet to increase efficiency and cut costs, unifies communication smoothly, and significantly cuts down on customer wait times.
Overall, the right system makes the customer experience as easy, friendly, efficient, smooth, and quick as possible.
A Glossary of Phone Terminology
ATA: Analog Telephony Adapter. This device connects to the service provider’s network via a local area network. Basically, it allows analog phones to work over an internet connection.
BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. This is the policy of permitting employees to use and incorporate their own devices both at and away from the workplace. Another name for the policy is IT consumerization. Currently, 95% of all employees use their personal devices for some sort of work communication.
CRM: Customer Relationship Management. An approach to managing a company’s interaction with customers that relies heavily on data analysis. It involves compiling data from websites, phones, emails, chats, market research, and social media to learn how to cater to target audiences.
DID: Direct Inward Dialing. A feature that provides service to multiple numbers over one or more circuits so that an extension is directly accessible to an outside caller.
DTMF: Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency. As previously mentioned, a type of telecommunication signaling developed in the Bell System, otherwise known as Touch-Tone. This gradually eliminated rotary phones and remains quite popular among landlines.
EHR: Electronic Health Record. A systemized collection of patient information in digital form that eliminates the need to find old paperwork and consolidates a patient’s medical history for ease of use.
IVR: Interactive Voice Response. Technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through voice and DTMF tones. This should be differentiated from an automated attendant, which merely routes calls. IVR takes input, processes it, and returns a result.
LAN: Local Area Network. A network connecting computers in a household, school, laboratory, building, or campus. Ethernet and Wi-Fi are among the two most common LAN technologies.
PBX: Private Branch Exchange. A telephone exchange that serves a private organization and permits sharing within that organization. The stations inside a PBX can connect without using a public network.
POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service. The old way of doing things, mentioned in the historical section above. If your business hasn’t moved beyond this model, it’s about time you changed things.
PSTN: Public Switched Telephone Network. An aggregate of the world’s circuit-switched telephone networks. This network includes telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission links, cellular networks, communication satellites, undersea cables, and switching centers themselves.
QoS: Quality of Service. A description or measurement of the overall performance of a telephone or computer network service, usually determined from the point of view of users or consumers.
SIP: Session Initiation Protocol. A signaling protocol used for real-time voice, video or messaging applications. SIP defines the format of messages and the sequence of communication in these apps.
UC: Unified Communications. The integration of an enterprise’s communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, mobility features, and conferencing. This allows employees to send information through one medium and receive information on another.
VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol. Voice communications and multimedia sessions that utilize the internet instead of PSTN. It’s similar to the traditional telephone network, but instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, the transmission of information occurs over a digital network.
WAN: Wide Area Network. A network covering a large geographical distance. The internet itself is an example of a WAN and fits this definition.
XMPP: Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. A communication protocol that enables near-real time exchange of data between network entities. Instant messaging and presence information are enabled by this protocol.