Building an Effective Phone Tree For Your Clients

Businesses thrive on good customer relations. The way customers interact with your service and how you respond to them can make or break your sales. And so, as a business owner, it becomes your duty to ensure clients working with your company are satisfied. Developing and maintaining a good phone tree is part of that process.

Phone Tree: What is it?

A phone tree or interactive voice response (IVR) is a professional phone system that helps customers calling move through different menu options. These options are based on the customer’s response and eventually lead them to a solution. When calling big companies, you may have interacted with menus like: “Press 1 for ___, Press 2 for ___.” This is what a business phone tree IVR system is. A phone tree that is well-thought-out and built accordingly provides callers a variety of options to help answer their questions or concerns. Additionally, these options will lead the caller to another set of options, a representative, or an informative voice recording. And they can work alongside private branch exchange (PBX) systems to connect callers to specific extensions. 

What many don’t know is that you can use an IVR system for outgoing calls as well. You can set up a phone tree to contact select clients or large groups at the same time to provide information or conduct surveys. On the other hand, manual phone trees will have one person contact two-three other people who will, in turn, contact two-three more. Such phone trees are called crisis phone trees and act as a resourceful tool when required to quickly notify groups of people.

Creating the Ideal Phone Tree

To build the perfect phone tree, you need to look at different features, requirements, and options available. Start by finding a virtual phone service provider, like Global Call Forwarding (, that lets you customize your menus. Then, consider your customers’ points of view. Do you want to provide them with self-serving solutions? How many processes do you want to include in your menu? For example, should they be able to verify their account or make a payment or move through different office departments, etc.? Think:

  • What actions, processes, and steps should be made available?
  • What will happen if there is an issue with a step or if the caller chooses the wrong option?
  • Should you include a ‘speak with a rep’ option; if yes, when should the call be directed to the rep?
  • How will the system collect information?

The ideal phone tree will consist of the features and menu options you need and will map out how callers interact with your IVR. When designing it, keep the system of processes simple and clear. Overcomplicating or making the phone tree too fancy can become overwhelming.

Personalize and Enhance the Caller Experience

Personalize your menus to make your company stand out and solidify its professional image. Most providers will let you create phone trees exactly as you envision them. Include custom greetings that give callers information about the business, its working hours, etc. And then, have menu options depending on your service. For example, a media company’s IVR may be set up as: “Press 1, if you are a new client. 2, if you are an existing client. 3, for media inquiries. 4, to make a payment. 5, to speak with a representative.” Or a medical facility will have: “For new patient information, press 1. To make an appointment, press 2. For renewing prescriptions, press 3. To speak with a nurse, press 4.” Depending on what callers select, they will be directed to a different department, more menus, an informative voice recording, or a representative.

Manage Call Volume = Improve Customer Service

Phone trees or IVR systems can greatly improve how clients interact with your service. This is because they provide an easy and quick way to solve issues or complete tasks. Customers will be able to complete some tasks without needing to speak with an employee. In other instances, they are directed immediately to the right department, saving time. These are ways you can control call volume to ensure callers don’t have to wait very long to get a response from your company. And when solutions are easy to find, customers will continue to do business and recommend your company to others.

Meryl D’Sa writes professionally and creatively. When she is not writing, she’s reading books discussing history, trauma, and memory.

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