Any business that uses phone calls on a regular basis will need to warm transfer calls. Some departments or teams may use the feature more than others, such as customer service or sales. Even if the worker is not a heavy phone user, you may still get a call that must go elsewhere, which means you need to transfer the call.
Call forwarding is pretty much a standard feature on most modern phone systems, but not all transfers are equal or successful. An organization must implement transfer best practices to ensure customer satisfaction and to keep them engaged.
WHEN TO USE CALL FORWARDING
There are multiple reasons to use call forwarding within the organization.
For companies with multiple teams and offices, you may have to transfer internal calls. Suppose a colleague requests a status update on a critical project, but you don’t have access to that data.
Transfer a customer to a more knowledgeable agent
Whether you have a call center or a few employees answering customer questions, agents are faced with situations where they don’t know the answer but know someone who can help.
In such situations, transferring the live call to a specialist is better than asking the customer to hang up and dial another number.
Send the customer to the correct department
Sometimes a customer can get to the wrong department due to pressing the wrong button or dialing an incorrect number. In this case, the caller is not looking for a specific person. Again, transferring the caller to the correct department is faster than having them call your business twice.
Transfer the customer to a manager or supervisor
Often, customer service calls involve frustrated or angry customers. The agent may be unable to resolve the customer’s issue satisfactorily or may need their manager’s approval.
In these cases, transferring the call to a manager will provide a better experience than forcing the customer to wait in line again.
TYPES OF WARM TRANSFER:
There are 2 main types of call transfers, although they are often referred to by different names.
The warm transfer is also called assisted transfers, warm transfers, or announced transfers. They are used more often than any other type and generally provide a better experience for callers.
A warm transfer means that the agent (or receptionist) talks to the intended recipient before transferring the call to them. Warm transfers offer several benefits:
- The agent can verify that the intended recipient is available to answer the call
- If the recipient is busy, the agent can inform the customer and offer to send them to a voicemail inbox to leave a message
- The agent can update the recipient about the caller’s purpose, their account status/information, or the specific issue they need help with.
- The recipient can then warmly greet the customer by name rather than a generic hello
- The customer does not have to repeat the same information as if it were a new call
The only significant drawback to a warm transfer is that you must put the customer on hold, preferably listening to music on hold.
Some customers may not like waiting on hold, but most people will accept it if it means they can talk to someone who can help them. Implementing hot transfer best practices can also help the overall experience for customers.
As might be expected, the cold transfer is the opposite of warm transfer. It is also called blind transfer, unattended transfer, or transfer without notice.
In this version, the agent directly transfers the customer to a different number without talking to the recipient. If the recipient is busy, unavailable, or away from their phone, the customer could end up in a voicemail inbox.
The advantage of a cold transfer is that it is fast and frees up the first agent to answer the next call. Suppose the time difference between a hot and cold transfer is 2 minutes in your office.
If you have 10 agents and each agent transfers about 5 calls per hour, then you are potentially wasting hundreds of minutes every day.
Unfortunately, the downside is that the recipient doesn’t have any information about the customer or their issue. The customer must repeat the same details all over again.
While it might seem like warm transfers are always the best option, a cold transfer is useful in some situations.
Suppose a customer comes to the credit department when he is looking for sales. In this case, they are not looking for a specific person, but for a particular team or department.
The person can transfer the cold call to the correct department number where any available agent can answer the call.
Generally, warm transfers are often used to keep customers engaged and to provide the best customer experience.
Cold transfers work for internal calls or situations where the caller is not requesting a specific person. In almost all other situations, it is better to use warm transfers.
WARM TRANSFER IN A CALL CENTER:
Call forwarding happens much more often in a call center than in a typical office. Part of this is because most call centers handle hundreds or thousands of calls an hour. Even though the percentage of calls requiring transfer remains the same, the sheer volume dictates that more transfers occur during the day.
However, there are other reasons why call centers need to do warm transfers more often.
- Most call centers handle customer calls that involve problems with their products or services. A hot transfer ensures that the recipient receives notice before speaking to the customer.
- Often call centers will have agents with different levels of experience and familiarity with all their products. A customer may need to talk to someone with more experience with the product they use, in need of a hot transfer.
- Call centers use Audible Response Unit (AVR – IVR) systems to direct incoming calls to the right department. Sometimes customers press the wrong number (1 for sales instead of 2 for orders), so the agent receiving the call needs to transfer it. While a cold transfer might seem like enough, a hot transfer keeps the customer engaged, so most call centers prefer it.
- As much as companies want to quickly resolve customer issues, this is not always possible. Frustrated customers may demand to speak to a manager and refuse to work with the agent on the call. In these cases, a warm transfer is in the cards.
- Finally, there are situations where resolution of the customer’s issue may require supervisory approval. Or company policies state that the customer needs to speak with a manager before the order is approved. Again, a hot transfer is the best way to handle the call.
As you can see, there is a greater chance that a call will need a transfer within a call center than in other departments or an office.
A cold transfer can save you some time, but it leaves customers frustrated by repeating the same details over and over to multiple agents.
If they have a complex issue or a long-running ticket, they may have been on the phone for hours just to keep getting transferred repeatedly.
Warm transfers, on the other hand, tell your customers that you take their problems seriously. This shows that you value their time and want to resolve issues quickly.
In the long run, warm transfers can save your agents valuable time as well. This reduces the chances of a customer being transferred to the wrong department/person or ending up on voicemail.
In other words, a hot transfer significantly improves the chances that the customer won’t have to call back for the same issue.
WARM TRANSFERS IN A SALES DEPARTMENT
When a customer is ready to buy something from your team, you want to make it a pleasant experience for them.
Whether your salespeople are a potential cold caller or a customer who calls in for a purchase, a hot transfer improves the overall experience.
Using warm transfers means that callers get to the right person at once and are not diverted from one person to the next.
Warm transfers in sales are useful in several cases:
- Suppose a customer calls with a sales inquiry. If you have multiple lines of products or services, some sellers may specialize in a particular product. A warm transfer from the receptionist helps direct the call to the correct salesperson.
- Imagine you have several people cold calling potential customers. When an agent receives a positive response from the caller but lacks the experience to sell the appropriate product, a hot transfer can ensure you don’t waste the lead.
- Hot sales transfers also help with call screening. When you have a receptionist screen incoming call, you can ensure that non-sales calls are redirected appropriately.
- If you have service agents promoting your products to existing customers, they can warm up qualified contacts for the transfer to the best salesperson for the job.
Warm transfers also mean you are improving productivity with the sales department. A call with an angry customer can leave a salesperson’s entire day in disarray.
They miss other appointments or are late for meetings. Keeping your sales team happy and productive is made a lot easier with warm transfers.
HOW TO MAKE A HOT TRANSFER WITH VOIPSTUDIO
Most VoIP phone systems have multiple ways of transferring calls, whether you want to do a cold transfer or a hot transfer.
Depending on the device the user receives the call from, there may be a different process. For example, a softphone might show options for different types of transfers.
But if the employee is using a desk phone, they can use a dedicated or programmable button to transfer the call.
WARM TRANSFER BEST PRACTICES:
Now that you know when and why to use warm transfers, it’s time to review some hot transfer best practices.
As with any business process, there is a good way to make the transfer and multiple opportunities to make mistakes! Unfortunately, many companies make common mistakes and make calls even worse.
Training your agents
Your goal of exceptional warm transfers will go nowhere if your agents aren’t properly trained. Is it taking a long time for transfers to be made? Are agents dropping calls instead of transferring them?
One of the basic steps you need to review is whether all agents know how to transfer calls and manage all phone system resources.
You’ll be shocked to find out how many employees are pushing the wrong buttons or fumbling with their phone for a hot transfer, all while the customer is impatiently on hold.
Also, consider the guidelines on phone etiquette and how well your agents are handling the call in general. They must speak clearly and use proper grammar to ensure the caller can understand them.
Within this larger framework, you can establish best practices for the specific hot transfer process.
Do’s and Don’ts of Warm transfers
- Explain why you need to transfer the call
This one might seem like a logical “no-brainer”, but you’ll be surprised how many companies transfer calls without explaining the reason to the caller. The agent is transferring the call because:
- The person who called, called the wrong department?
- Do they lack the experience to solve the problem?
- Does the problem need a manager to help with the call?
- Should the call be escalated to another department for some reason?
Let the customer know before you do anything else, so they at least know they might need to wait a while. A good example could be:
“I need to transfer you to a subject matter expert; they will be able to help you with the XYZ issue.”
- Get permission before transferring the call
Always get the caller’s permission to transfer the call. Never assume that customers are happy to wait while the agent talks to someone. Also, make sure your agents explain the process to the customer. For example:
“I will put you on hold while I explain the matter to my manager before transferring the call. Is everything okay with you?”
- Always ask for a callback number
Some companies make a point of getting a callback number from the callers at the beginning of the call. So even if the call drops or the customer hangs up, they can put them back on the line.
- Use relaxing hold music
Most modern phone systems have an option to play soothing music on hold while the customer waits. Use the! Make sure the music isn’t loud and that it’s appropriate for your brand. Soothing or instrumental jazz is usually a good way to go.
Never put the other party on hold without music or automated messages. Nobody likes to be left in a black hole of silence, wondering if they’re on hold or if the agent hung up instead. That’s probably the only thing worse than putting callers on hold for 10 minutes.
- Never transfer the person without confirming that the recipient can answer the call
The whole point of warm transfers is to make the experience better for the caller. It’s not good if the person is sent to voicemail when they expect to speak with Daniel.
Make sure the recipient is available for the call or if someone else will be a better person to answer the call. They may be busy and ask the agent to take a message for you.
- Don’t make customers repeat information
This is a big no-no. If you are going to do the hot transfer, then customers expect not to have to repeat the same information repeatedly.
Be sure to update the recipient with all relevant information, including name, account/ticket number, nature of the call, a summary of the call if they’ve already gone through basic steps, etc.
Basically, the recipient should be able to initiate advanced troubleshooting or resolution without having to ask, again, ‘How can I help you?’
- Inform the customer that they are being transferred and who they will speak with
When the employee returns to the customer, he/she must inform him/her of the transfer and also inform the name and/or title of the person with whom he/she will speak. A good example would be:
“Now I will transfer you to Peter, the general manager who can help you with the XYZ issue.”
- Prepare to babysit the call
This step is difficult but necessary unless the employee is in a call center. In all other cases, they must move on with the caller.
Inform the customer about the estimated waiting time and that he will answer the call if there is no answer within that time.
Be prepared to receive a message and your contact information if the call goes unanswered. Do not download them again or send them to Voicemail. It’s a sure way to get a 1-star review for the business.
- Thank the customer for waiting and apologize if it took longer than expected
Always thank the caller for being on hold, even if it only took a minute. Almost everyone has had the bad experience of calling a company, being put on hold, and being transferred with no resolution.
If they waited longer than expected, apologies for that. Your employees don’t owe the caller an explanation (the phones are broken, Daniel isn’t at his desk, etc.) but certainly, an apology is due.