The Complete Guide to Call Forwarding and How It Works
If you run a business, customer communication is too important to leave to chance. You don’t want to risk any customer going to a competitor simply because you weren’t able to pick up the phone. On the other hand, you still need to account for work-life balance. You can’t be handing out your cell phone number to everyone, and you certainly don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night for a business call.
The bottom line: there’s no way you can answer every single call. Whether you’re on a call with another customer or at the beach with your family, it’s impossible to attend to your phone 24/7. But as a small business owner, you can’t afford to miss an opportunity.
Call forwarding is an easy solution to these problems. By routing incoming calls to a specific location, you can provide better service and communication for your customers at all times. While it may seem complicated at first (as all phone technology does at times), call forwarding is actually quite simple. Here’s an in-depth look at how call forwarding works and how it can serve your business.
How Call Forwarding Works
Simply put, call forwarding is a feature that redirects calls from one number to another. It allows you to manage phone calls and still answer them on another line, even when you can’t answer them directly. Here’s a basic illustration of how call forwarding works:
- A customer calls your phone number
- The call is routed to your service provider
- Your service provider redirects that call to a new number according to your call forwarding settings
- The call reaches the second phone number of your choice (e.g. a landline, cell phone, voicemail system, etc.)
- The second phone number either receives the call (i.e., a person answers it), the call is transferred to another number, or it goes to a voicemail service.
In this setup, the customer rarely notices that their call is being forwarded. They simply call number A and are forwarded automatically to number B. If you are routing the call to a person at another number (e.g. an after-hours associate or a different office), that person can answer the call just as if the customer had contacted them directly.
Types of Call Forwarding
Unconditional Call Forwarding
Unconditional call forwarding is when all calls are immediately forwarded to another number, regardless of any conditions. Once this is set up, everyone who calls your number will be automatically redirected to another number every time (usually without knowing it). That said, if the second number doesn’t answer, they can be redirected to a voicemail service.
Conditional Call Forwarding
Conditional forwarding, as the name suggests, is when calls are forwarded based on certain criteria. For instance, with AccessDirect, you can set up your call forwarding system to:
- Forward calls after a specific number of rings, or if the number is busy;
- Forward calls to specific places based on the phone number of the caller;
- Forward calls to a certain number based on caller ID and your call history;
- Forward calls to a specific number based on custom tags for each number;
- Forward calls based on the day of the week or the hour of the day;
- Forward calls based on a customer’s choice from a phone menu
The possibilities for call forwarding are vast, and different companies may choose to configure their call forwarding in unique ways according to various business needs.
With either of the above options (conditional or unconditional), you can have the call forwarding setup ring multiple phone numbers at once or ring them in a sequence. To ring multiple phone numbers at once is called simultaneous ring.
This is a great setup for sales teams, where the first rep to answer the call is the one to get the commission. If no one can answer the phone in a simultaneous ring setup, the call will most often go to your voicemail automatically.
Consecutive ring allows you to control how a call progresses through the forwarding setup. For instance, you can set the call to be transferred to the next number in the sequence if:
- The first line rejects the call
- The first line is busy
- The first line rings for a specified time limit (e.g. 30 seconds)
You can choose whichever of these conditions you prefer, or use a combination of conditions, arranging phone numbers in the way that works best for you.
These are some of the general call forwarding setups you’ll find across industries, but there are plenty of ways to customize it. If you wanted, you could start by having one call forward through a sequence of three lines (consecutive ring). Then, if none of those lines pick up, you can have multiple numbers ring at once (simultaneous ring), then send to voicemail if no one still picks up. This can be useful for loud environments where it’s difficult to hear a phone call, and you want to give several people the opportunity to answer before sending the caller to an automated voicemail.
You can even add a custom greeting prior to this sequence saying, “You’ve called [Your Company]…” to make sure customers hear a warm voice whenever they contact you. You can also give the customers unique options with a custom phone menu. Here, you might have the caller choose where they are forwarded by pressing a number that corresponds with a specific department phone (i.e. “press 2 for sales”).
Call Forwarding Use Cases
After Hours or 24/7 Phone Lines
If your phone line is busy, it can lead to more complaints and lost business. Call forwarding offers an improved customer experience by getting the call to the right person quickly, so that the problems can be addressed, no matter what time of day.
For instance, If you run a medical office (e.g. a local clinic or an independent practice), you need your calls to reach the on-call doctor immediately so each patient can receive the critical care they need. When calls are forwarded to the proper channel, patients receive faster care since you don’t need to look up which doctor is on call any particular day or week. This type of customer support is critical in any medical scenario.
Otherwise, if you are a property manager, you need a way to field urgent maintenance calls and similar requests after hours. For instance, maybe a tenant needs to report a busted pipe or an electrical issue in the middle of the night. Rather than waiting for them to reach your voicemail greeting and receive an alternate phone number, you can immediately route that to an after-hours phone number during a certain timeframe (e.g. 5:00 PM to 5:00 AM).
Businesses in Transition
Maintaining continuity is essential if your business is moving to a new location or transitioning into a new stage of growth. With all the things you have to worry about, allowing your customers quick, easy access to your team should not be one of them. Call forwarding allows you to keep a smooth workflow even if you are changing addresses or adding new employees to your roster.
For example, if you need to disconnect a phone at one location, you can still have customers call that number but forward all calls to a different office location temporarily. Otherwise, if a key employee (such as an account manager) leaves, you can forward their calls to a co-worker’s number so they can cover the work.
This way, customers won’t even notice the interruption — they can still call the number they know and receive the same great service. Once you are fully transitioned to a new location and your phones are properly set up with the same number, you can un-forward the calls if you choose or set up a new forwarding configuration.
Solopreneurs with Growing Businesses
Plenty of successful solopreneurs and small business owners have used their personal cell phones for business, fielding calls from customers left and right — but that only works for so long. As your business grows, you’ll quickly find you don’t have the time or the energy to take every single call.
With call forwarding, you can easily redirect calls from your personal cell phone to multiple offices, co-workers, employees, or even a voicemail service.
There are several ways to use call forwarding to your advantage as an entrepreneur or small business owner:
Managing Calls When Out of the Office
Maybe you’re at a conference or visiting a client in another city. Maybe you need to take business calls on vacation. Whatever the reason, you might need to route calls from your main office line to your cell phone, so you can still field customer requests from another location. With call forwarding you can do this easily, without interrupting service for your customers. When you’re back in the office, you can un-forward the calls and continue using the same number.
How Call Forwarding Can Benefit Your Growing Business
See how call forwarding with AccessDirect can transform your business in this short video.
No matter what service provider you use, AccessDirect can take your business phone system from outdated to state-of-the-art. Call forwarding with AccessDirect is intensely configurable, allowing you to create the unique customer experience you want. AccessDirect offers many advantages to business owners looking to gain control over their phone call volume, including:
100% Answered Calls
Customers want their calls to be answered in a timely manner. But when everyone calls at once, this can be a tough promise to deliver on.
With call forwarding, managing high call volumes has never been easier. You can forward calls to multiple numbers according to a specified sequence or conditional logic and prioritize the most urgent ones. Additionally, you can change the sequence or adjust the numbers at any time to assist you with the call flow. As your call volume ebbs or flows, you will be easily able to adjust accordingly.
Gone are the days of being chained to your desk so you don’t miss an important phone call on your landline phone. Whether you are out on the golf course or at an appointment, with call forwarding from AccessDirect, the phone call can find you. This offers you the freedom to work and answer client concerns wherever you are. If no one is available, you can rely on our trusted virtual receptionist services to still project your unique, professional image.
No matter what industry you’re in, privacy is extremely important, and keeping your mobile number anonymous is essential. Call forwarding by AccessDirect allows you to receive calls on your personal cell phone without having to give away your mobile number.
It also allows you to go on vacation, enjoy a quiet evening, and send calls to another number if you have other plans. No one wants to get a work call at 3:00 AM, if they can help it. With call forwarding, you can redirect phone calls so that you maintain a balanced lifestyle while still taking care of customers and clients in the manner you choose.
With the big push to remote work, call forwarding is a great way to have your cake and eat it too. You can have a local phone number with a recognizable area code for customers to call, but the call can be forwarded to wherever you are at the time. For example, if your business has multiple branches in different states, your customers can call a recognizable area code and be routed to a new number in a different state via call forwarding without paying long-distance charges.
Setting up call forwarding with AccessDirect gives you the benefit of simplicity in two key ways:
- You only need to give one number to customers – With call forwarding, you can set up conditions and menus to direct customers from one number to virtually any sequence of other numbers. That means when you hand out your business card or produce ads, your customers only need to remember your central phone number (the first one in the forwarding chain).
- It’s easy to set up – Whether you are new to call forwarding or you just don’t don’t have time to figure out how to set it up, call forwarding with AccessDirect is extremely user-friendly. We’ll walk you through every step of the process using simple and easy-to-follow instructions, or we can set up the whole thing on your behalf.
That’s the main reason call forwarding is such a widely used phone setup — it makes calling the right department and managing phone volumes easier and simpler than ever.
Self Service Configuration
With AccessDirect, you can configure most of your call forwarding setup on your own, if you choose. Once you sign into your account on our app, you can easily add, rearrange, or delete new extensions in your sequence. You don’t even have to call us to make these kinds of changes.
However, if you’d rather us set it up for you, we can certainly do that. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll take care of what you need — as many times as you need it. You won’t have to wait on hold for an hour to reach us, either. When you call, we’ll answer quickly with a friendly, familiar representative who knows your unique setup.
Additional Phone Service Features
With AccessDirect, we don’t just set up call forwarding on your device and call it a day. We provide you with a suite of other great features to help you manage phone calls better than ever before. With any phone number and/or subscription, you get:
Helpful Tips for Call Forwarding Success
Though call forwarding is pretty simple to set up with AccessDirect, it can seem confusing if you’re new to call forwarding. Here are a few helpful tips to make the process even smoother:
1. Don’t Forward To the Same Number Multiple Times
What if none of the phone numbers in your forwarding sequence can pick up a call? Rather than send it to an answering service, many people new to call forwarding try to then send the missed call back to the number that was first dialed (or that number’s voicemail), like this:
- Dialed Number: 913-555-1111
- Forward to: 913-555-2222 (no answer)
- Forward back to: 913-555-1111
While it might make sense in concept, this actually doesn’t provide a great customer experience for two main reasons:
If the final number in your call forwarding sequence can’t pick up, it’s best to forward them that number’s voicemail or an automated answering service.
2. Define Your Call Forwarding Schedule
After several years of serving different industries, we’ve found that customers don’t always take advantage of all the scheduling options they can use. As a result, they end up receiving phone calls at two in the morning, when they could have sent them to voicemail or another number.
Be sure to pay attention to all of the ways you can configure call forwarding with AccessDirect. In the app, you can set calls to forward by specific days and time ranges, with incredibly granular control over your own extensions. Explore the options so you know what’s possible and you can use all the available features to your best advantage.
3. Take Advantage of Voicemail Greetings
If you have to miss a call or a call is forwarded to the voicemail for your cell phone, you may inadvertently give away your personal cell phone number. The caller will reach your voicemail and hear, ““you have reached [your number]…” Even if you get back to that person in a timely manner and give them a different number to call, that might not stop them from calling you on your cell whenever they want.
If you use the professional voicemail greetings offered by AccessDirect, you can standardize that greeting no matter what number you’re forwarding to. If you need to miss a call, your business name and a brief message from a professional voiceover specialist is the first thing they’ll hear after a few rings (not your personal digits).
Scale Your Business with AccessDirect Call Forwarding
Strong communication is the key to success, especially for small businesses. To ensure your customers can always get in touch with you or your team, you need a reliable way to be responsive — one that works for your unique setup.
Choosing call forwarding with AccessDirect will help your business run more smoothly and save you a lot of headaches. No more fighting with your phone company or struggling to figure out complex phone trees. Just give us a call, and we’ll make sure your calls forward exactly the way you need, when you need it.
Ready to streamline your communication and scale your business? Sign up for a free trial today and discover all that’s possible with call answering services from AccessDirect — free of charge for one week!