This is one of a series of posts about features that many VoIP providers claim cannot be done. We’re doing them.
When you replace your old phone system with a new hosted PBX or cloud-based service, be sure you don’t just assume that all the good features of your old system will be available with the new one. There’s a few features that are not automatically implemented in a VoIP system; it takes the ability to write software to make these things work, and most VoIP providers do not have that capability. Lots of folks are falling into this trap because it seems so obvious that a brand-new system using new technology must be able to anything a 30-year-old clunker can do. Well, we think so too – but all VoIP providers aren’t on the same page. Check it out before you sign that contract!
One of the most common “old system envy” features is Call Parking. You have a caller on the line, and you want to put that call on hold and have someone else pick it up. “Call for you on Line 2”, right? The other person sees a red light on Line 2 on their phone, presses the button, and picks up the call.
The thing about a hosted or cloud-based PBX system is, the phone lines are not connected to your phones at all. The connection to the telephone network happens at the service provider’s network center. Your phones are connected to the provider’s system via a digital network connection, not a phone line. So there is no button on your phone that connects directly to a phone line. Each phone has its own collection of “lines”, which are channels into the provider’s system, not direct connections out to the phone network. So when your phone’s Line 2 rings and you pick up the call, and my Line 2 rings and I pick up the call, you and I are not on the same line. You’ve got your Line 2 and I’ve got mine, and they are not the same line. So although you can place a call on hold, I can’t pick that call up on my phone because it’s on hold on your Line 2, not mine.
VoIP systems usually do have the ability to park a call. This means placing the call into a parking lot that is managed by the hosted system, not your phone. When you park a call it disappears from your phone completely. Anyone in your office can pick up their phone, dial a special set of codes, and retrieve that call.
The hiccup is: the process of parking a call and unparking is almost always in one of two categories: either it requires a ridiculously complex sequence of codes and pushbuttons, or it cannot be done at all on a system with multiple companies because there is no mechanism for separating your parked calls from those of your service provider’s customers. Because of these issues, VoIP providers commonly just say they cannot provide this capability at all.
At Red Road Telecom we solved this problem by writing the needed software to implement parking lots for our customers, keeping them completely separate; and we’ve made the process of parking and picking up a call as simple as it used to be last century.
You park a call by pushing two buttons: Transfer and Park. The Park button starts blinking red and the call is no longer connected to your phone, it’s in the system parking lot that’s dedicated to your company. That same park button starts blinking red on all of your phones. To pick up the call, you just press that blinking red button. We provide up to 16 Park buttons for each customer, so you can have the equivalent of 16 lines shared across all your phones for parking and unparking calls.
If your business has multiple locations you can share parking spaces across locations if that works for you, or you can assign a separate set of parking spaces to each location. If you share them, that means that, for example, you can park a call on a phone on Maui and I can pick up that call by pressing the blinking red button on my phone in Los Angeles.
Features like Call Parking make a big difference in your staff’s comfort level and enjoyment of your new phone system, and that’s going to show up in the bottom line one way or the other!