"Everyone gets a human" - Best strategy?

Hey everyone, hope you’re having a great start to your week.

I’ve got a setup that we’re striving for which is challenging me, and I’m looking for the best strategy.

The desired outcome: That every caller gets handled by someone personally… even when calling the DID numbers.

Example: Our regional manager in Ventura, California has a DID number. When someone calls it, and she’s not available, we want to have the call diverted to the receptionist (in our Big Bear office) FIRST, rather than going straight to voicemail. This gives more personalized and enhanced service for our clients and hopefully resolves simple problems without them waiting for a return call.

So it would go like this:

Call comes in to DID number, inbound route points to their extension (324). Rings desk phone and softphone, etc.
User does not pick up after 30 seconds.
Call rings to reception or service team. They answer and take over the flow.
If no answer by reception, call should go back to the voicemail (324) for the user for the DID.

My original thought was to use a ring group for each DID. I’ve also considered using hunting in FollowMe.

The issue with the Ring Groups is how do I get it back to their voicemail if nobody picks up? And for FollowMe, how would I designate the call as coming from their DID so it can be answered properly… For instance, we’d want the receptionist to answer with “Our company, Janet’s desk, I’m sorry she’s not picked up, would you like me to page her?”

Also I’m concerned that I would be limited with hunting… For instance I have users who rarely use their desk phone and only pick up on their softphones on their mobile devices… The hunt time to their desk phone would be wasted. Though this may not be that big of an issue in the view that our goal is to enhance the experience to the caller and get them faster resolution.

I wonder if there aren’t some ideas that I’m not considering here and if any of you might have suggestions?


Look at queues instead of ring groups.

I hadn’t considered using queues. Thanks @avayax, I will add that to my possible scenarios. You don’t think this would be too bulky for 15 users? I’m considering how it will scale too.

Thanks again!

I would still look at using follow me as that will scale better in my opinion. If these are PJSIP extensions both the desk phone and softphone can register as the same extension and ring at the same time then go to follow me after so many seconds. Additionally, with follow me you can use caller ID prefix to make sure the receptionist knows who the call was directed too. (This can also be done with queues if needed.) If it were me I would only use queues for this if you need the additional routing options.


Thanks, guys. I am going to mull it over and map it out a bit more then go for it.

Sorry, but for high-end businesses, I completely disagree. If you are selling e.g. real estate, financial services or airplanes, the customer has an account manager with whom he normally deals, directly reachable on a DID. However, sometimes that manager isn’t available and IMO it’s best for both the customer and the company to route the call to the next best person available.

Even a receptionist will have information, useful to the caller, that a voicemail greeting wouldn’t convey e.g. when the manager will be back, how busy he is, etc. If the customer’s issue is urgent, the receptionist can take action more quickly than waiting for the manager to pick up his voicemail.

Even if the service ends up no better, many customers will feel better knowing that a human is trying to help, rather than talking to some machine.

Surely it is up to the user wher he/she sends unavailable and busy calls to, it is ony ‘by default’ that they go to voicemail.?

vmx locator gives even better control.

Yes, in a very small business where the owner/CEO deals personally with the big ticket customers.

But in a larger organization with multiple account managers, there should be a consistent policy, set by top management.

Except you are not speaking as one of those customers with the large pocketbooks you are speaking as someone who has no money and wants to get some tipped from one of those pocketbooks

I have worked with (and sold high end camera optics to) that type of customer and that is NOT how they operate. I have in fact observed how they operate and copied some of their methods, which are perhaps crude but effective.

Anyone with that kind of money expects a cell # for an account manager, and they expect the account manager to answer it 24x7. And, they GET IT or they tell the account manager’s manager to assign them someone else or they are going elsewhere. They don’t care that the account manager is a person who may have a life outside the sale. They don’t ever talk to subordinates. That is just how it works. And, I might also add, anyone selling that kind of product is working for a company that runs Cisco everywhere including the phone system.

The only industry that I have ever encountered that runs the “have a person answer” is hospitality (I like to call them horse-brutality) because they are all selling a product that is the ultimate commodity - heads in beds - and the horsebrutality industry cuts corners on -everything- and because 99% of what they are selling is pure unadulterated BS that they like to call “the experience”

Why does a hotel room you spend 8 hours sleeping in cost $200 a night instead of $50 a night? THE EXPERIENCE.

I’m too old now to see that as anything other than what it is - all show and no substance. Not every last one is like this of course - the small B&B’s and so on who are owned by individuals actually do care - but the big ones - absolutely.

Personally I have no patience for the fake stuff anymore. Like the wealthy people with a lot of money when I call someone I expect them to answer - and if it is NOT a high end product worth a lot - I expect an email address that they will answer. I have no patience anymore for being passed off on someone else.

You can do what you want but like I said - you need to review your org’s procedures to insure you are no leaking DID numbers when people make outbound calls. Fix that and you won’t GET calls to DID’s they will come into the main number, without routing shenanigans.

Then surely it is goes up the totem pole to the ‘multiple account managers’ likely the transport department has different needs than the AR department or the IP department. One size never fits really all.

Doesn’t address the OP’s question, but some of the other comments. I would set up two DIDs for these important people–one “published” and one “internal.” The published DID would work like the OP wants–always reaches a warm body, even if it’s not the one I’m calling. The internal one goes only to the called party, but includes the option of pressing [0] (or whatever); if I’m calling a team member, I want to be able to pick my second choice. Also, we can use that #1 client’s caller ID to select the always-answered route.

Hi @tmittelstaedt - Actually, we are a hospitality company that merged with a property management company (we share a good deal of core business needs and practices)… and one of the reasons for the merger was that the customer service at the PM company needed a refresh, and, as a hospitality company (we consult for, manage, and develop small, experience-based hotels of 20 rooms or less), the experience is critical–A front desk phone that doesn’t get answered in a hotel is a very bad thing.

So you’re spot on with what I’m trying to recreate :slight_smile:

I think I’ve decided to go with the queues… We are creating a new iteration of the server and I’m going to implement it there. It’s a bit of a bowl of worms, partly due to the DID thing. The account managers are used to having their DID ring direct to them, where often it seems messages would simply rot in voice mail until the customer got fed up and threatened to cancel, etc.

I’m fighting the old culture as much as the system development. For now, what I’ve done is added the VX locator, where “0” gets them to the receptionist… or for those of us who have assistants or support teams, they have the option to transfer there by pressing “1”.

Yes but you have apples and oranges here.

Your guests are not employees. The “standard thing” in the hospitality industry is when the guests pick up a phone in their room and dial it they outdial on a trunk and send caller ID out of the DID they are dialing with. Callbacks go direct to them not the switchboard. Nowadays they try not to match the DID number to the room number so an outbound call does not leak a room number

Your employees can, of course, use this system. But as I said if you want to have casual callbacks to the DID’s the employees use go to the switchboard, then send the digits out for the main number on the caller ID for the extensions used by the employees. People like me who do NOT want to wade through a layer of “flappers” will when we are talking to your employees, ask for the DID number or cell number to them. (mostly it will be the cell number, DID’s belong to an antique age nowadays) We will KNOW that if we call that DID and it goes to voicemail that the person we want isn’t available and we will call back or leave a message. Regular people who are the ones that you want to capture at the front desk won’t think to demand the DID for your employees they will just go with whatever comes up in their caller ID. And just instruct your employees to use signatures in email that have the main number.

I think you are overthinking this. Most people as you know are like sheep, easily led. If you don’t stamp your employees DID numbers on their recipient’s foreheads by having them show up as caller ID then they will just call back whatever number your employees supply to them on your employees cards, or vcards, or whatever. Which can be the front desk or 800 number or whatever.

PS I worked as a night auditor then desk clerk then front desk manager for several years back in the mid 80’s. I had thought I had left all of that behind years ago but 2 years ago my wife bought a vacation house at the beach, and when we don’t use it we vacation rent it out using a property management firm. Hospitality hasn’t changed one iota in the last 35 years. What is mind blowing is the people renting from us today I was renting rooms to their parents when I was in the biz. And they act precisely the same way. Some of the stories…

I don’t think you understand what we’re trying to do, I’m sorry. They’re not going to a general helpdesk. They’re getting a human voice that says “Hi, you’re calling for Janet, I’m sorry she didn’t pick up… I’m looking at her schedule and it looks like she’s in a meeting. Was this something urgent, I could pass her a message if so, or try to page her? Or would you like me to take a message?”

We would never consider someone a “moron”, that goes against everything we stand for. We want to provide a higher level of service. You’ve misunderstood what we’re trying to do.

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