When a customer needs to talk to you, it is vital to be available. A critical factor in customer experience is to immediately pick up the phone when it rings. According to HubSpot Research, 33% of customers list "waiting on hold" as the most frustrating aspect of customer experience. But the fear of an unanswered call can cause anxiety, especially when the staff member is not at their desk.
Physically going to the staff member's office to answer calls or trying to keep a mental note of their proximity to the phone is inefficient to run a business. Fortunately, there is a voice solution, hunt groups. Hunt groups are a voice solution that allows a team to share the responsibility of a ringing call.
What is a hunt group?
A hunt group is a group of people who are connected through a shared number. This group of people share the number and answer calls as they come in.
When a customer calls, a member of the group's phone will ring. If the first person does not pick up the call, the system will forward the call to the next person; if the second person does not pick up the call, the system will forward it to the next person, and so on. The system will continue searching (aka line hunting) for a person in the group to pick up the phone, hence the name hunt group. The definition describes a ring strategy that follows a pattern, but it is also possible to make all the phones ring at once – but we'll discuss ring strategies later.
How does a hunt group work?
Hunt groups, (or line hunting) are a different way to deal with large volumes of inbound calls. It is a very flexible solution that can connect to either a DID or an AVR. A direct hunt group is directly called through a DID; once the caller dials the number, they connect to the hunt group. Hunt groups can also be reached through an AVR. So a caller will be connected to the hunt group after choosing an option.
The hunt group is pre-populated with a list of members. Every person working within that hunt group can sign in or out of the group. A caller cannot choose whom they talk to, because this depends on the ringing strategy and who picks up the phone first.
Depending on the hunt group setup and functionality, you can generate reports and look into individual performance. This feature can be particularly useful for sales or support teams.
What is a hunt group ring strategy?
A ring strategy is a pattern the system uses to determine which person to call next. There are different ways in which a hunt group could be configured, and that is entirely dependent on your needs.
- Simultaneous – deliver the call at the same time, on all phones. All the hunt group members' phones will ring at the same time; the person who picks up the phone first gets the call.
- Order – delivers the call in a set order one after the other. The system will call the first person listed; if that person does not answer, the system moves to the next number.
- Least used – the extension in the group that is least utilised will receive the call, followed by the next least utilised number.
- Random – the system picks the extension on a random basis so that any number can receive the call at any time.
Except for the simultaneous ringing strategy (where all phones ring at once) each extension will have a set ring time to answer the phone, like 20 seconds. If the phone is not answered in the set ring time, then the system calls the next number for the set ring time and so on.
Every call that enters the hunt group will be directed to an extension as defined by the ring strategy. Calls will ‘hunt’ to the next available extension. When all the hunt group members are on a call, then the next caller will receive a ‘busy’ tone. If you require additional incoming call capacity, you may add more members to the hunt group. Alternatively, you may add a call queue which will facilitate calls to wait in queue. By adding a call queue, the productivity of the people in the hunt group will increase.
Hunt group best practices:
How you use a hunt group can determine its success. If you use it well, you can provide a timely and efficient service. It is essential to pick the correct ringing strategy for your situation. One size does not fit all, so different departments can have different ringing strategies. For example:
- The simultaneous ringing strategy can drive recipients crazy if they are in the same office space, like a call centre. The least used ringing strategy may be more appropriate for a call centre.
- If there is a hierarchy in experience, knowledge or skills, then the order ring strategy may be applied. This allows you to put your best employees forward, but not leave the customer hanging should the best not be available.
- Sales teams are ultra-competitive, mostly because they often earn a commission, so the strategy that works best for sales teams is the simultaneous ringing strategy. Nobody will complain about the order, favouritism or unfair call traffic; every call is fair game.
Keep in mind that a hunt group works well if the customer can access the team in a timely and efficient manner. To achieve this:
- Tailor your ring time according to the number of people in the group, to avoid a lengthened waiting time for the caller.
- Do not nest hunt groups in other hunt groups. It can create a bad user experience. Imagine if a customer's call reaches the last person on the list only to be forwarded to another hunt group where the phone continues to ring looking for someone to pick up? It can get frustrating.
- Avoid adding extensions that aren't utilised or unmanned (response time can suffer as a result of call connection delay).
- Ensure your staff sign out of the hunt group whenever they step away from their desks or phones, because this also contributes to increased waiting time to the caller.
For more information on Hunt Groups, or to speak to an expert on the best voice solution for you or your company, contact us today. Alternatively, subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on industry news and business solutions.