The term virtual switchboard is a callback to the days when manual switchboards were used to connect telephone calls between phone lines.
Today’s blog will offer a quick primer on how switchboards came to be used, why they were important, and how they were replaced with digital phone signal switching technology of today. The journey spans more than 100 years, and the virtual switchboard that’s a part of your VirtualPBX Phone Plan is more powerful and streamlined than any of the technologies that preceded its creation.
A Quick Call From Indy to Chicago
Say, for instance, that you wanted to call your brother from your home in Indianapolis to his home in Chicago. You would expect to first reach a switchboard operator and let that person know the destination of your call. The operator would then insert plugs in a large box – the switchboard – to match your inbound connection with a subset of the telephony infrastructure that routed to Chicago.
In most cases where calls were to be connected further than a shared party line (such as a phone line shared with your neighbor), operators were involved. This type of manual connecting may have required operators to speak to other operators so routes could be joined from cities to regions and back again, depending on the complexity of the call and the technology available at the time. Switchboards were used from the late 1800’s through the 1970’s before computers began to automate the process of dialing long distances.
Use of the PSTN
Calls made in this fashion were wholly part of the Public Switched Telephone Network. They primarily used copper lines strung across telephone poles to move between call switching stations and individuals’ homes. Of course, the same process here was used when businesses wanted to complete calls to customers either near their locations or outside of their core operating areas.
The way calls moved from point to point involved many human operators who answered calls all day. These gatekeepers made sure that your calls were connected smoothly, and in fact many trained operators were so good that they could connect calls more quickly than the bloated menu options we hear today in our automated phone systems. This is why we urge you to be brief when creating scripts for your own phone system.
Your Virtual Switchboard
The Auto Attendant that comes with your VirtualPBX Phone Plan is your virtual receptionist. It routes callers in a manner similar to what would have been done in the early 20th century. The biggest difference is that you have control of the message presented to callers, and callers have control over where they choose to connect their calls.
Your Auto Attendant greeting might instruct callers to press the digits one, two, or three to reach your Sales, Customer Service, or Product Development departments, respectively. You can be as brief or as lengthy as you like with your message, and callers can choose any of the options presented to them.
This kind of automation makes quick work of keeping callers pointed in the right direction. They can access the parts of your business that they require. No receptionist or live switchboard operator needs to intervene in any call.
VirtualPBX even takes this a step further with its Multiple Auto Attendants feature that gives your business more than a single Main Number attendant for routing calls. You can attach attendants to all the numbers in your plan, including Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers you assign to individuals.
The Convenience of Modernity
We should be thankful for the ease of use that our modern virtual switchboard provides us. You can control your own fate. Customers can reach you at any time and be routed in an efficient manner to your company departments.
With this control, though, comes the responsibility of keeping your greetings short and informative to keep the attention of your audience and to help make their customer experience great. Would you like to see how our Auto Attendant can help you improve your own customer journeys? Schedule a Free Demo of our phone system today guided by an experienced VirtualPBX Sales Team member.