Call forwarding makes sure the people who call your business phone number always get an answer.

Why is call forwarding a big deal for small businesses? Think about the last time you made a call that went nowhere. You waited through six or eight rings and gave up. Then, the questions set in: Did you call the right number? Why didn’t they pick up or send you to voicemail? Maybe something happened — a family emergency or a personal tragedy.

You don’t want potential customers left in the dark. You don’t want existing customers fretting that you’ve gone out of business. When people call your business number, they need a response. It doesn’t have to be you. It doesn’t even have to be human. You just have to acknowledge they exist and to help them get an answer.

Call forwarding used to be complicated and frustrating on old-fashioned PBX systems and telephone handsets. But these days, setting up call forwarding is super easy thanks to the rise of voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) small-business phone systems. VoIP services use apps that work on mobile devices and PCs, so you can use them anywhere you go with a smartphone. They’re easy to install and don’t cost much.

And the best ones give you everything you need to make the most of call-forwarding capability.

Call forwarding in action: 8 ways to improve customer service

Imagine owning an upscale hair salon. You have six stylists on staff. You’ve earned a profitable clientele who send you a reliable stream of referrals. They’re good people and great tippers — the best kind of clients for a business built on personal service.

You’ve made your name with top-notch service and skillful stylists who cater to your clients’ individual desires. It’s all about the people, but it’s also a volume business. The more people you serve, the better off everybody is.

Call forwarding can help support customer volume and satisfaction by:

  1. Redirecting to hold. The most basic forwarding function is sending calls to a hold queue, where a recorded message tells them what to expect while they wait for somebody to pick up.
  2. One-to-many calls. Set up your business phone to automatically forward calls to the smartphones of all the stylists currently working. This gives everybody a shot at answering a call and landing a new client.
  3. Call scheduling. The software lets you create a custom calendar that can forward calls to your early staff in the morning and your late staff in the afternoon or evening. If everybody’s busiest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., use forwarding to send all calls to a recorded greeting.
  4. Keeping your business phone number local. You can be visiting family 2,000 miles from home, but you can forward calls from your local number to your distant locale.
  5. Adding a toll-free number. Your clients may want to call in for an appointment when they’re on vacation or a business trip. Set up a toll-free number that forwards their calls from anywhere in the United States.
  6. Giving customers the basic facts. Create a specific number for appointments and use the recorded greeting to state current business hours. If a storm or some other emergency forces you to close for a day or two, this number keeps everybody up to date.
  7. Pitching special offers. If you have promotions for kids or grandparents, you can set up a special number and forward all calls to a greeting that tells people how to take advantage of your offer.
  8. Freeing up your personal time. Forward calls to your business greeting or to your trusted lieutenants when you’re taking time off. You’ve worked hard for years; you’ve earned time away from clients and business worries.

Choosing a cloud-phone provider for small-business call forwarding

If you own a local used-car lot, then you don’t need an enterprise VoIP system designed for Toyota or General Motors. Then again, you might be surprised at all the features you can get in a service purpose-built for small businesses. For instance, the top small-business VoIP systems offer call forwarding and:

Take your time when choosing a cloud-phone provider. Make sure you understand their fees and that their software is easy to install. It also should have an intuitive, well-thought-out user interface that will be simple for your staff to learn and use. Whatever you do, just make sure the people who call your business get what they want — an answer.

Call-forwarding is just one of the great reasons to Get Grasshopper.