How To Turn Call Forwarding On & Off and Set Conditional Forwarding Rules

Elizabeth Lockwood

Turning on call forwarding or conditional call forwarding enables your customers, potential clients, or other stakeholders to reach someone from your team, even when you are out of the office or your phone system is overrun with calls. 

Call forwarding provides an alternative to letting a call go to voicemail. This is important because many people don't want to an answering machine. They may hang up or leave incomplete contact information or details. There may also be other issues that make it difficult to return their call that could be alleviated if the call was answered.

Luckily, once you know how it works with your phone system at the office or on your smartphone, forwarding all your calls and forwarding calls that meet certain criteria — such as not being answered quickly — to another number is quick and easy.

Forwarding all calls to another number

When you forward all calls, any call that comes into your number is automatically forwarded to the number you enter during the call forwarding process. For most landline, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), cable, and cell phones, you can forward all calls by dialing a “star” code. Generally, the steps to forward all calls are:

  • Dial *72 on the phone you want to forward
  • Immediately follow that with the 10-digit phone number of the phone you want to forward the calls to
  • Wait to hear several beeps, and then the call will end
  • Make a test call to ensure your call forwarding worked (recommended)

In many cases, cell phone providers may have their own forwarding options, including using a dialed “star” code. This may differ from your office phone, so contact your phone provider if *72 doesn’t work. You can dial 6-1-1 from your cellphone to reach customer service for your carrier.

In some cases, you might also need to forward your calls when you do not have your phone with you or realize you do not have service. For this reason, it is a good idea to know how to use your cell phone carrier’s app to forward your calls. Many VoIP and cable phone systems also have online or app options for call forwarding.

8x8 call forwarding rules editing

(Example: 8x8 call forwarding rules options.)

Forwarding calls only when they go unanswered

In some cases, you may need help answering the phone, but not on every call. This can be accomplished through conditional call forwarding. There are several options for conditions when you might use this type of service. This includes:

  • Unanswered calls
  • Calls when the lines are busy
  • Calls from certain numbers

All of these options forward calls to another number only when they meet the designated conditions. The method of turning on conditional call forwarding is similar to the process listed above; only the “star” codes are different. 

To forward unanswered calls to another number instead of your voicemail box or answering machine, you would dial *68 and then the forwarding number on most phone systems. To forward only calls from select numbers, you would dial *63, then follow the directions to enter the numbers you want to forward and confirm where to forward them. 

Some phone systems rely on different “star” codes or other methods to manage conditional call forwarding. Verizon, for example, utilizes *71 to forward busy and unanswered calls. You should always make a test phone call to ensure your forwarding works before relying on it if you do not use this option frequently.  

Ending call forwarding

Phone systems have another “star” code you will dial to turn off call forwarding. In most cases, you can turn off call forwarding by:

  • Dialing *73 from the phone you forwarded
  • Listening for the series of beeps and the call to end

Conditional forwarding uses *81 to end forwarding in most cases. As with the process to begin forwarding, this could vary depending on the service provider, or it may be possible through the carrier’s app.

Considering alternatives to call forwarding

At Smith.ai, we believe the best way to help businesses grow is to provide them with opportunities to delegate and automate. We can offer solutions to the nagging concerns, such as how to forward calls when you cannot answer them, as well as revolutionize the way you handle lead generation, sales, and more by helping you put the right smart systems in place. 

Our 24/7 virtual receptionists may be a good option for you to keep your business communications open while you are away from the office. Some of our specific services that could benefit you include: 

  • Warm transfers ensure a live person greets every caller. Our professional receptionists gather the relevant information about the caller and then follow the rules you put in place or ask you in real time if you’d like to take the call. 
  • With an after-hours answering service, our receptionists work 24/7 so that your customers can reach someone when they need to. They can reach a live agent any time of day or night, and we can help you capture leads. Establishing this high level of customer service from the first call can go a long way toward building a relationship that turns a lead into a client. Our team will not only answer the phone, but will log information in your system and handle scheduling appointments on your behalf as well, if desired.
  • An overflow live answering service provides you with additional lines and trained receptionists to greet callers when your regular staff is busy. These professionals offer backup to your team, schedule appointments, screen leads, answer general questions, and more. This service keeps hold times low and prevents anyone from leaving a voicemail and waiting for a call.

Contact us to learn how we can help 

Learn more about the full menu of Smith.ai’s services, including plans and pricing, today. We provide free consultations and online chats, and we can walk you through our available plans and pricing. You can reach us now by calling (650) 727-6484, emailing hello@smith.ai, or using the online chat feature. We can sign you up for our services as soon as today.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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