BLF and Other Underappreciated VoIP Features

Maab Saleem | 24.10.18 | 0 Comments

VoIP brought about a paradigm shift in the world of enterprise communication by introducing a myriad of efficient and beneficial features. Some of the said features are not as appreciated as the rest, despite being just as useful, if not more. One such feature is the busy lamp field (BLF), a small light on an IP phone, which highlights whether another phone or extension connected to the same PBX is ringing, idle or busy.

The BLF isn’t the only underappreciated feature of the VoIP system. There are several other VoIP attributes that are not always given much credit, even though they serve as valuable tools for your business. Read on to learn more about some of the unsung heroes of VoIP as well as some features you should certainly be taking advantage of to give your business a boost.

Busy lamp field (BLF)

The real potential of this feature is recognized in busy office environments, where employees need to get instantaneous information about their colleagues’ availabilities, without leaving their desk. The status at any point is reflected by the color of the light; even though the scheme may differ from one vendor to another, a red light typically indicates busy, a green light means the phone/extension is free, and a blinking red light tells that the monitored device is being rung.

In addition to being a busy-user-detector, the BLF key also serves many other purposes:

Call pickup

Busy sales teams can benefit highly from the BLF call pickup feature. If you see that your colleague is being called (via the red light) but they aren’t available to pick the call, you can simply do it on their behalf. This can often even lead to you preventing the loss of a potential lead/client.

Call transfer

Using the BLF feature, you can also transfer a call to a colleague, simply by pressing the button. Before you do, make sure that you check their status by looking at the light.

Speed dial

BLF can also help you get connected with your colleague quickly. Most SIP phones allow you to speed-dial to your connected extension simply via a press of the BLF button.

Call parking

BLF can also be used in conjunction with a VoIP service’s call parking feature to make the latter even more efficient. Consider this example: A receptionist receives a call which he decides to park. He then announces that a call for Alex has been parked on Line 3. Now, when Alex goes to a phone that has BLF parking keys, he will see Line 3 illuminated and can join the call by pressing it.

Despite its tangible productivity and efficiency benefits, not many businesses harness BLF’s true potential. This is often because not many people are aware of the feature, but also because you can only really benefit from it after you have configured it properly, and the configuration might require a lot of time and/or technical support in the beginning. However, BLF is not the only under-appreciated feature that VoIP has to offer; there are many other features that are seemingly overlooked or just simply don’t get the attention that they deserve.

Find me/follow me

Using the find me/follow me call routing feature, users can add multiple numbers where they can be reached upon receiving a call before it gets pushed to voicemail. For example, when a person calls you on your work phone and you don’t pick up after two rings, the call will be shifted to your mobile phone. If you don’t even pick it up there, it will finally be pushed to your home phone before going to voicemail. This feature allows you to be there for your clients/colleagues/friends even when they aren’t sure where you might be and/or which of your number to reach you at.

Integration with the entry buzzer

A lot of the top vendors provide your business with the feature to integrate your VoIP phone with an analog door phone. Whenever someone wants to enter your premises, they can have a two-way call with you prior to being allowed access. This is a great feature to enhance the security of a building/workspace.

Call analytics

Using the call analytics feature of a VoIP solution, you can get insight about your enterprise calling statistics like call count, availability, and average call duration. It can also let you answer important questions like:

  • How much time does a customer have to wait normally, before their call gets placed?
  • Who is the top performer in my team?
  • Who needs to be brought up to pace with the rest of the team?
  • How many calls got dropped because of packet loss or poor network connection?
  • What is the average call hold time for all calls made to the call center?
  • How many calls are processed by all agents within a day?

The answers to these questions allow you to visualize the most important key performance indicators using graphs and reports.

Voicemail to email transcription

Another overlooked feature that VoIP offers is its ability to transcribe voicemails for you. This increases productivity by eradicating the need to go through every voicemail and jot down the important details like phone numbers, addresses, etc. This is particularly important for busy people who are always on-the-go and can’t spend a lot of time listening to voicemails.

Call screening

Call screening is the last on our list of the least frequently used VoIP features, but it’s certainly not of least importance. Using call screening, you can, for example, direct all the calls made by your spouse to your personal number, and you can also block calls from unwanted people, such as the guy who keeps trying to sell you equipment you don’t need. Some vendors also give you the ability to block all numbers or extensions from a specific area, city, or state.

VoIP call screening also lets you identify the numbers of telemarketers without receiving their calls and beat them at their own game, avoiding them entirely in order to enhance your own productivity and efficiency. In addition, you might also develop a need to hold off calls from a specific number (or set of numbers) for a duration of time. The callers during this period will receive a message indicating that you aren’t taking any calls at the moment. Some VoIP service providers also provide you with the ability to customize this message for different users.

Conference calling

Almost all businesses use conference calling to some extent in order to collaborate with colleagues in remote locations. However, a lot of them purchase subscriptions for third-party conference calling service providers instead of utilizing a terrific feature offered by many of the top VoIP service providers. Conference calling is a part of the feature-list of many VoIP solutions, even though sometimes, it’s only available as an add-on.

By paying a few extra bucks to get the conference calling feature integrated with your VoIP solution, you will be able to save in the long run since you’ll avoid a lot of costs associated with the purchase of an extra subscription. In addition to basic conference calling, some companies also offer an online meetings feature which furthers a business’s ability to collaborate and communicate with clients and offshore employees online.

Online account management

Many of the top VoIP providers like 8×8 Inc. provide you with an online portal for account management. This portal normally allows you to access and manage all configurations and settings for your VoIP system. Whether you want to add new contacts or want to update your subscription, you can do it all from a powerful, well-designed online application.

Ring groups

The ring groups feature, offered by some of the top VoIP vendors, allows you to distribute incoming calls to an extension, across different agents or groups. By using ring groups, you can route the calls across different departments like customer support, sales, and technical assistance automatically. This eventually leads to a rise in levels of productivity and efficiency.

Third party integrations

VoIP solutions typically have the ability to integrate with other enterprise software like accounting software and customer relationship management systems and others. The benefits of allowing these applications to work in tandem with each other are extensive, but not enough companies appreciate the potential of this feature.

Bitcoin acceptance

The world of Bitcoin has been marred by controversy for a long time now, but some of the top VoIP service providers (RingCentral and Vonage) realize just how attractive and cost-efficient the technology can be and are thus accepting Bitcoin as a mode of payment.

Final Word

VoIP has been making businesses operations easier for a few decades now. Over time, it has morphed into a technology that helps businesses communicate and collaborate like never before. In addition to the hundreds of multimedia features used by millions and that VoIP is known for, there are plenty of less-talked-about features, some of which were mentioned above.

Using BLF, a workforce’s efficiency, productivity, and availability can be enhanced by a great deal. By using call analytics, supervisors and managers can know which agents need to up their game and which are outperforming the rest of the team. By making use of voicemail to email transcription, you can simply read your emails to know exactly what the caller said and why they called. By setting up a find me/follow me list, you can allow callers to reach you wherever you are and whenever they want. The aforementioned are only some of the advantages that these under-appreciated VoIP features can offer; don’t miss out on them!

Maab Saleem

Copywriter and editor, Maab Saleem has been writing for almost a decade now. Be it technical content about the most cumbersome of technological topics or just a few lines of copy explaining a newly launched product, Maab knows precisely how to connect words in the perfect manner. When he is not sharing his literary ingenuity with the rest of the world, he likes to watch, play and critique on football.

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