What is a Call Tree?

A call tree is what helps PhoneUnite determine what to do with a new call that arrives in to your phone system. It is essentially a flow diagram that lays out each step of the call process.

For example, most business will typically play a greeting with menu options as the first step in their Call Tree. You're probably very familiar with these... "Thanks for calling My Company, Inc. To speak with a sales representative, press 1. To speak with a support team member, press 2".. Once the caller makes their selection, PhoneUnite would move down to the next level of the call tree to work out what to do next.

Here is an example of how a call tree is presented in the PhoneUnite admin interface

We call each step of the call tree an Action.

What Actions Does PhoneUnite Current Support?

Quite a few! Here they are:

  • Play a Menu
  • Put Call In Queue
  • Dial Extension
  • Call External Number
  • Conference Bridge
  • Directory
  • Play Announcement
  • Hang Up

Can I play custom messages on Call Trees?

Absolutely! And we make this really simple for you. You have lots of options:

  • You can have our "robot voice" speak for you. That's the computer voice you've probably heard before, except we also have different accents...
    • American English (Male / Female)
    • British (Male / Female)
    • Spanish (Male / Female). Automatically translates your English text and speaks it in Spanish!
    • French (Male / Female). Automatically translates your English text and speaks it in French!
  • Upload an existing recording
  • Have our system call you instantly and you can record a new greeting via phone. It will be immediately available to you for use in your call tree.
  • Choose from an existing recording already in the system.
  • Play nothing.

How many call trees can I have?

You can create unlimited call trees in your PhoneUnite account. You can then assign different call trees to different phone numbers. This is a very powerful and advanced feature of PhoneUnite. It means you can play different greetings, or direct callers to different parts of your organization depending on what number they dial.

Action: Play a Menu

About This Action

This action lets you play a greeting and present options for the caller to pick from. It is the most popular action to use when a caller first dials in to your business. You can add up to 9 menu options.

The input screen looks like this:

In your greeting type, you would usually tell people a list of options to pick from. They can then use their keypad on their phone to select the option.

Do you support sub-menus?

Yes. Every call tree can go as deep as you like.

Could this be used for multiple languages?

Yes. Take a business for example that wants to support both English and Spanish speakers. When people first enter your call tree, they could be presented with a menu that asks them to press 1 for English, or 2 for Spanish. Then each of these options would branch off in to a menu catered to that user's choice of English or Spanish.

What happens if the user doesn't select anything?

The menu will repeat.

What about direct extensions to my employees?

Your callers can enter direct extensions on any menu. You do not need to configure these outside of setting up your users. Your direct extensions for employees will be a higher number than 9 (e.g. x 405, 406, etc.) so that they don't interfere or overlap with any menu choices.

Action: Put Call In Queue

What is it?

Creating a call queue is a very powerful feature when you want a team of people to be able to answer a call. For example, you sales team would have a queue. Your support team would have a queue, and so on.

The people assigned to a queue are called agents. When a caller is placed in to a queue, PhoneUnite will attempt to ring the agents assigned to that queue on the various numbers they have configured. If the first agent called doesn't pick up or accept the call, then the second agent is called, and so on. If no one picks up, you can either start with the first agent again, or the caller can eventually be sent to a voicemail box.

What determines who is called first?

The dial strategy. PhoneUnite has four options:

  • Random: Call agents in a completely random order each time.
  • Ring all agents: This strategy will dial every agent at once. Note that this could result in more minutes being used, as PhoneUnite will make concurrent phone calls.
  • Ring in order of who has gone longest without a call: This is similar to round robin, except it intelligently tracks who has gone the longest without answering a call and will try them first. This strategy helps to evenly distribute calls to your agents.
  • Round Robin: Loop through your agents one after the other, ensuring that all active agents are tried once before the loop starts again.

Can I have a 1-agent queue?

Yes, you could. While we're only ever going to try the one agent in that queue, it does mean that you are easily setup to add additional agents as you grow, and it also means that the caller will hear hold music while we attempt to call that agent.

What hold music options do you have?

Currently we have these options:
  • Classical
  • Ambient
  • Electronic
  • Guitars
  • Rock
  • Soft Rock

Can I play custom messages while people are on hold?

Not at the moment, but we do intend to add this feature so that you could play important messages, upsell messages or any other item you may want a person to hear while on hold.

What if no one picks up?

You have the option to send them to a voicemail box. Voicemails left by callers will be available to any of the agents assigned to that queue.

Action: Dial Extension

What is it?

Dial an extension lets you choose a single member of your team to pass the caller on to. PhoneUnite will try all the numbers you have configured for that user.

Isn't this the same as a Direct Extension?

In a way, yes. Dial An Extension could be used in the following scenarios (in addition to the user still having access to their direct extension):

  • On a menu tree: Let's say you are a small business with a one-person sales team. Instead of creating a queue for that one person, you may just choose to send them straight to this person when the caller presses the option to speak to sales.
  • As a direct dial phone number for a person: Let's say Harry wanted to have his direct extension (e.g. 888-555-1234 x 123) but also wanted a direct dial number that went straight to him. You could "Add a Phone Number" to your PhoneUnite account and then create a call tree that had "Dial Harry's extension as it's only action. Calls to this number would then be directed straight to the numbers configured to try Harry at.

Action: Call External Number

What is it?

This lets you connect the caller to an phone number, anywhere in the world.

Simply pick the country and enter the number you wish to connect the caller to. PhoneUnite will then forward the caller on.

One Heads Up

You shouldn't use this feature to forward callers on to an employee that you have configured in PhoneUnite (i.e. someone that has a direct extension with your PhoneUnite account). You should instead use the Dial an Extension feature for that.

Action: Conference Bridge

What is it?

A conference bridge lets you connect multiple people together for a voice conference. Calls to a conference can be secured with a pin and you also have the option to have caller "announce" themselves when they first arrive in to the conference.

When Will a Conference Begin?

Your conference will begin as soon as there are two people on the line. When additional people join the conference, you will hear a beep and their name (if you turn on caller announce). You will also hear a beep when people leave.

While your first caller is waiting for a second person to join, they will hear the hold music you have selected in the setup screen.

How Many People Can Be In a Conference?

At the moment, PhoneUnite supports up to 40 people on a single conference bridge.

Local Phone Numbers for a Conference Room

Let's say you have two offices. One in the US and the other in the UK. You hold frequent meetings between the two offices. Using PhoneUnite, you could give both locations a local number to dial in to, so that one of the offices doesn't have to pay international rates. In this situation, you would add a phone number in the UK and one in the US (if you didn't have them setup already). You would then assign the same call queue to both. The conference room extension would then be shared and all participants would dial in using the local number for their location.

Is there a Video Conference option?

Not yet, but we intend to add this in the future. We also intend to support more of a "presenter" mode, where you can have a couple of people chair the meeting while others are muted. This is useful for Webinars and other presentation-style conferences.

Action: Directory

What is it?

The directory feature lets callers connect with a person in your team without necessarily knowing their direct extension. PhoneUnite supports searching both via voice or keypad input.

Tell Me More...

When a caller enters the directory, they will be asked to speak the first few letters of the person's name for whom they are trying to find. PhoneUnite will search through your users and give them options for the results. The caller then picks by using their keypad.

If we can't find anyone using the voice search, then we'll present a keypad search option. In this option, the caller enters the first few letter's of the person's name using their keypad, and then presses #.

How Accurate is the Voice Search?

It varies depending on accents, background sound, pronunciation, call quality and so on. It's not perfect, but in our testing and from the feedback we hear, most people find it adequate.

Is the Directory Updated Automatically?

Yes. It is updated instantly as soon as you add or remove users from your account.

Action: Play Announcement

What is it?

This lets you play an announcement before moving a caller on in your call tree. You could use it for informational messages, such as office hours and directions, or before you place people in to a queue. For companies who might experience a large influx of calls when they experience some sort of issue, it can also be used to play a message acknowledging or explaining the issue to help reduce the call volume before you then move the caller in to a queue (such as your support team queue). See more about this below.

What Happens After the Announcement is Played?

It's entirely up to you. You'll see on your call tree that the announcement has another element after it. By default, we set it to "Hang Up", but you can change it to any action.

Can It Be Turned On/Off?

Yes, you can turn it on or off (or update what it says) at any time by visiting your call tree, clicking "edit" on the announcement and then choosing the appropriate button.

Call Center "Issue" Scenario

Let's take the example of a technology service provider who has a large customer base. When they experience a technical problem, their support team gets flooded with calls, driving up queue wait times and customer frustration levels. All most of these customers want to hear at that time is that the provider is aware of the issue and how long it will take before it is fixed.

A simple message before the caller gets placed in to the support call would significantly reduce the amount of people who stay on the line to speak with a support team member, meaning that hold times will be far more reasonable and customers with a separate issue will be able to speak to someone sooner.

PhoneUnite makes this scenario very easy. Using the call tree, the service provider would add an Announcement action before putting the caller in to the support queue. By default, the announcement would be turned off so that most of the time, the caller would just go straight in the queue.

When a problem occurs, the person responsible for updating the announcement would login to PhoneUnite, go to the call tree, record a message that explains the issue and turn the announcement on. The call tree would be immediately updated and callers would begin hearing the message before being placed in the queue.

As soon as the issue is resolved, that person would return to the call tree and turn off the announcement.

Action: Hang Up

What is it?

Simply put, the call ends. smile

Tips and Tricks

Using Announcements to Manage High Call Volume

If your business experiencing an influx of callers when an incident occurs, then our Announcement Action is a great way to help get information to your customers faster. Make sure you read about this towards the bottom of this page.

Direct Dial Numbers For Employees

If you'd like to have a direct number for an employee, this is possible using call trees. To learn about this, read this page.

Multiple Call Trees

Calls trees are one of PhoneUnite's most advanced features. What makes us stand out is that you can assign different call trees to different phone numbers. For example, you could have different call trees to provide service in different languages or locations. It really provides you with limitless options on how you direct callers to the correct location.

Other Tips and Tricks?

Have a suggestion? Then leave it in the Facebook comments box below for all our users to enjoy!