It's a pretty great time to be operating a business (Covid aside) in terms of tools and technology available.

Imagine it was 10 years ago, and you were receiving a significant volume of incoming support calls, more than you could have one person field in a day. Possible solutions included:

  • Employing a person just to answer and redirect phones
  • Have some sort of answering service
  • Have a menu system to have people navigate and choose the department best suited for their call
  • I'm sure there are others as well

To achieve these, you're looking at a significant investment. For a person to answer phones you have the cost of hiring, interview, salary and training. You would also need a phone system sophisticated enough to handle redirecting calls, possibly redirecting to mobile phones, or taking messages. If you wanted a menu system you'd need pay someone to build a menu system for you, record the audio, plan out the options.

All of those are still valid options today - but there are new ways of implementing these.

There are a number of vendors/platforms out there, but lets take Twilio as an example:

One of the steps of setting up a voice menu in Twilio 

Here's the article here:

In the span of an afternoon you can, without any programming:

  • Set up a Twilio Mobile number (this step might take a day or so to complete, as you need to provide proof of address to the Twilio team to avoid fraud)
  • Have that number be able to receive a phone call or SMS
  • Set up a flow/menu system
  • Can say pre-defined words to the person on the phone
  • Can listen for digit presses
  • Can listen for words they say
  • Do different actions based on their responses
  • Redirect them to another phone
  • Take a message
  • Email you
  • SMS you
  • Connect to services like ITTT, Zapier or any automation tool

Twilio's UI isn't perfect, and can take a bit to learn, and you do need to have an analytical bent. But that these tools are available is like living in the future science fiction world.

There's lots of custom programming you can hang off of these services. In a couple of hours we were able to set up a SMS mobile number and any time a message was received, it was forwarded to a group email account.

It sounds like such a simple thing, but it just wasn't possible in the not too distance past.