How to Use Hunt Groups to Improve Customer Experience

Have you ever called a business for an urgent answer, only to find yourself listening to a voicemail message? How frustrating did you find that experience?

For most of us, voicemails are not the preferred way to communicate with a business. With that in mind, companies that care about their customer experience do everything possible to connect callers quickly and efficiently. Brand reputation takes a hit when there is no one to take their call. In time, that builds up to a damaging tide of negative reviews. Conversely, those companies who consistently answer the phone tend to score higher on customer service assessments.

How, then, can you set up your business operations so that someone always answers the phone, even if you don't have dedicated staff to take the call? Enter Hunt Groups.

hunt-groups-improve-customer-experienceWhat is a Hunt Group?

Hunt groups are a service whereby calls made to a single telephone number can be re-routed to multiple destination phone numbers. Where hunt groups are most effective are as a part of an on-site or hosted PBX, which typically manage multiple lines and phone numbers.

Depending on how they have your business phone set up, some telephone companies will also offer hunt groups as part of their services. At the heart of hunt group functionality is an algorithm that determines where to route calls within a hunt group based on predefined parameters.

How Hunt Groups Work (In the Real World)

In practice, the way that hunt groups actually work is a lot less technical. In many cases, most of the legwork can be done by your service provider.

When a customer calls your main business line and there’s no one there to answer the call, a hunt group can be set up to forward the caller to another telephone. The call moves on to a different phone number where there is likely to be someone available to answer. This means that if someone is away from your business’ front desk, or already on the other line, the hunt group will automatically find someone else within your organization to take the call. This avoids missed calls, which in turn improves response rate and customer satisfaction.

Hunt groups are an excellent way to manage after-hours phone calls, especially if your business provides life and death services such as healthcare.

Nurse clinics, home care companies, hospices, and other after-hours triage and healthcare services all benefit from hunt groups, which direct calls in such a way that someone answers the phone every time. 24-hour availability in industries such as these are a must. They would simply be far less effective without hunt groups.

That being said, your don't need to be in the business of life and death for your organization to benefit from hunt groups.

Retail stores, for example, make excellent use of hunt groups to route calls in a “round-robin” fashion to each department. This continues until an employee answers the phone (hopefully not for too long, if employees are trained well!)

Small businesses with fewer staff members also benefit from this service. In this scenario, despite having fewer resources, anyone from the owner/CEO to back office staff and remote workers can potentially answer the phone if the rest of the team is unavailable.

How to Set Up Hunt Groups

Hunt groups are easy to set up and often do not require much work on your end. If hunt groups are a service feature of a hosted PBX system, the provider will be able to set up hunt groups for you. You can then ask them to walk through how to manage your groups in the event of a change.

The main question for the business to answer then becomes what kind of hunt groups to implement: linear hunting or circular hunting?

Linear hunting is a hunt group where calls are forwarded along a pre-defined list of phone numbers in linear succession until either someone answers the phone or a line becomes available. This solution is generally best for small businesses looking to quickly and efficiently move customer calls through their organization.

Circular hunting distributes calls in a “round-robin” fashion and continues through the list of destination phone numbers even if a previously skipped line becomes available. Once the round robin reaches the final line, it starts over from the beginning. This option is a better choice for bigger organizations, such as a large retail store with multiple departments, or a company with many remote workers spread across different locations.

girl miming phone call hand signalAre You Using Hunt Groups to Improve Customer Experience?

If you are not using hunt groups, there is a good chance you are losing customers at your voicemail box.

Answering the phone consistently is a major boost to any business’ reputation and customer satisfaction, as well as a time-saver when you don't have to check voicemail and try to reconnect with previous callers. When combined with a unique phone number and premium call features, your business will be able to handle larger volumes of calls and maintain high answering rates.

Existing customers will thank you for implementing features like hunt groups, while those frustrated with unreturned phone calls to your competitors will quickly learn that yours is the company to contact!

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