External Call Forwarding versus Call Twinning

I am often asked what the differences are between call forwarding and call twinning on the bluArc system. The bluArc system has both features available, but it’s useful to know when either feature should be optimally used.

When a call is forwarded to an external number the bluArc system no longer has control of that call. If the person to whom the call is forwarded to is unavailable, the features on the bluArc system cannot be used because the call is no longer on the bluArc system.

Call twinning is a special feature that allows two phones to ring simultaneously: the bluArc desk phone and one other device, typically a cell phone or a home phone. Call twinning effectively creates an automatic three-way call allowing the user to choose which device is answered. An additional feature of twinning is if a call is answered on another device such as a cell phone the call can be retrieved automatically at the desk phone—without any interruption to the call. Finally, with twinning, the call is fully controlled at all times by the bluArc system.

Call forwarding is typically used when a person is out of the office and wants calls to be routed to another phone number. The user doesn’t want to provide the caller with other options (transfer to coworker, transfer to another number, etc.), so, if the user is unable to answer the call, the caller may get a cell phone or home phone voicemail that the user can retrieve later.

Problems with call forwarding include:

  1. Once calls are forwarded to the bluArc system it cannot provide further information on what happened to the call. If your company wants to manage how and when calls are managed, call forwarding limits your ability to do this.
  2. Companies often standardize on processes regarding what a voicemail message can include, how quickly a call is responded to, and how and where messages are archived. Call forwarding limits your ability to control the process. For example, if a call is forwarded to someone that is unavailable, important customer calls may not be attended to promptly. Also, if a voicemail is left on a cell phone or home phone, that message is now out of the company domain with no way for the company to manage an audit trail.
  3. Sales reps often forward calls to their cell phone to ensure that a call is handled in a timely fashion. When I am visiting customers I often see sales reps, or others, talking on their cell phones while sitting at their desk. The call certainly got handled, but now they are using expensive cell phone minutes rather than more cost-effective bluArc services.

Call twinning is a feature that typically replaces call forwarding because it has some distinct advantages and unique uses. With call forwarding, there is no option for the caller if the user is unavailable, except to leave a voicemail. Because the bluArc system still controls a “twinned” call, if the user is unavailable there are still options for the caller. There are also advantages for the user because it allows them the flexibility to handle calls anywhere, anytime, yet still ensure that the caller receives a professional standardized greeting and options if the user is unable to handle the call. For the company, it allows for consistent call treatment and call tracking.

Benefits of twinning include:

  1. If twinning is enabled a call can be answered on a mobile device, but seamlessly handed back to the desk phone. Customers often use this feature while they are in the office waiting for an important call but don’t want to be tied to their desk. A twinned call can be answered on the mobile device, but seamlessly retrieved on the desk phone when the user returns to his office. This reduces cellular minutes, provides better call quality, allows for further options such as call transfer, and the call is tracked by the system for management purposes.
  2. In the past, when employees worked from home, they would have their business calls forwarded to their home number. Great, but what if you can’t answer the call—“Hello, you have reached John, Mary and the kids, please leave a message”—hardly the way you want a business call dealt with. Scroll forward to the bluArc twinning future: employees can work from home and have calls “twinned” to their home number. If they are able to answer, the caller gets appropriately served without knowledge of the employees location, if the call is answered (after a specified number of rings), the call now goes back to bluArc system for a consistent and professional treatment, including voicemail, transfer to a coworker, transfer to an automated attendant or call group, or transferred to another number.
  3. For management, the fact that all calls are handled consistently and professionally and are fully tracked by the system can be a great advantage to the company. Service levels can be managed and tracked by the company. Callers to the company always have options to reach someone else if their primary resource is unavailable.

When you are thinking of your options to use call forwarding or call twinning do what we do: think of the customer first and think about how you want to provide professional and responsive service to that customer. For me, twinning is the option to choose.