We all know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to get hold of somebody and they don’t answer, especially when you’re trying to contact a business. It’s no surprise that missed calls cost businesses billions each year, but we’re here to help you regain control and stop harming your business.
It is a common misconception that, in this digital age, phone calls are no longer an important communication tool for businesses. Consequently, many businesses focus their attention and resources elsewhere. However, this couldn’t be and further from the truth and neglecting your phone lines could be having catastrophic results for your business.
Phone calls remain the fastest way to resolve issues and answer enquiries, which is probably why 80% of all business communications happen over the phone. It is not only speed that customers value, it is the element of human interaction. Psychologically, people feel more connected, supported and trusted when communicating through human interactions. This means not only are customers more likely to buy your products, but they are more likely to have a positive experience with your business increasing loyalty, advocacy and positive word of mouth.
What Are Missed Calls?
It may be obvious what a missed call is, but by understanding the three different types of missed calls you can better analyse your mistakes. This analysis will identify where your main problems are and help you to understand what you can do to stop missed calls impacting your business.
The three types of missed calls are:
- Phone continually ringing and calls not being answered
- Customers waiting in a call or being offered a call at a later date
- Phone call going straight to voicemail
By letting any of these three things happen you are slowing your customers productivity, something which will negatively impact your business and your prospects opinion on you. With customers being so fickle it is important you are available when they call if not they will simply move onto your competitors.
How Do Missed Calls Happen?
So, now you know what missed calls are, but how do they happen? You may not even realise you are missing calls but they happen for a number of reasons, such as:
- Overrun/insufficient staff: If your current staff cannot keep up with the number of calls incoming on a daily basis it may be time to recruit a new member of the team.
- Other priorities: Your current staff may be prioritising customer service emails or live chats over phone calls resulting in missed calls. Although all customer service communications are important, email and live chat have a longer expected response time in comparison to phone calls so it may be worth re-evaluating your order of importance for response.
- Incorrect forwarding information: If you have call forwarding in place it is important to check the forwarding number is correct.
- Bad phone line connection: Without stating the obvious, if your business phone connection is bad you may not even be able to receive calls and unintentionally direct prospective customers to your voicemail. Something you don’t want to happen when you consider that 80% of people will hang up rather than leave details for a call back.
- One line for all calls: By only having one phone line, if somebody decides to call you whilst the line is in use will send them directly to your voicemail, something you need to try and avoid. It would be recommended to invest in more lines for your business.
- Staff out of office: Your staff won’t be monitoring calls 24/7, so it is important that your prospective customers can easily see your opening hours to avoid receiving calls when no staff are available.
How Does Missing Phone Calls Impact Your Business?
Looking at this from a customer perspective, the worst thing that happens when a call is missed is slowed down productivity and frustration. However, the consequences are much larger for business owners as missing calls result in loss of revenue, negative reputations/reviews and missed opportunities.
Loss of Revenue
Arguably the most impactful consequence of missing phone calls for your business is the loss of revenue. In the UK alone it is estimated that businesses lose over £30 billion, yes billion, each year from missing phone calls, that’s an average of £1200 per phone call. Revenue can be lost from two angles, losing your current customers due to poor customer service and missing the opportunity to generate new customers due to not even answering the phone.
In the short term the revenue lost may be related to the sales you could have converted had you been able to pick up the phone. Missing these types of calls once in a while may not impact your revenue too badly, however missing these calls frequently will all add up.
Long term revenue losses relate directly to business survival. Frequently missed phone calls reflect badly on your customer service, and when you consider that 70% of people stop dealing with businesses with poor customer service, that is a lot of potential customers to lose thus impacting your revenue stream that way.
We all know what it is like to deal with a company with terrible customer service and how that makes us feel. Therefore, it is no surprise that the internet has become a place to blow off steam and vent about these negative experiences, which is all good and well but you do not want your business to be on the receiving end of this.
Missed phone calls, dropped lines and long wait times are all a sign of bad customer service and lead to bad customer experiences. 62% of B2B, and 52% of B2C customers cut ties with companies after a bad customer experience highlighting the importance of not missing any business calls. Additionally, customers are much more likely to leave negative reviews online than positive ones so the more customers that receive bad customer service the worse your online sentiment will be.
With reviews and word of mouth becoming increasingly important a negative online sentiment can be hard for a business to shake, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of obtaining new and repeat customers.
Missed Opportunities and Important Messages
Not only do you miss opportunities of generating new leads, completing sales and increasing the lifetime value of your customers. But you also run the risk of missing important messages from non-customer calls, for example a call from your supplier with a matter too urgent for emails, that could impact your business operations.
How to Prevent Missed Calls?
Looking at this from a customer perspective, the worst thing that happens when a call is missed is slowed down
Great so now you understand the importance of not missing calls, how do you go about preventing missed business calls?
1. Analyse your call volume and frequency
By analysing this you will be able to identify whether the problem lies with overwhelmed or insufficient staff. This will help you ensure you have the right number of people on your phone lines at the right time.
2. Evaluate your existing solutions
Are your phones outdated and not performing at their best? Invest in new ones.
If you use call-forwarding services, are these directing customers to the right place? Place a test call to check and if it isn’t, correct this so it is.
Are you only operating from one line when you could do with more? Speak to a trusted telecommunications provider to get more in place!
3. Have a strong voicemail system in place
If it needs to be used make sure your voicemail greeting is strong and ask the caller to provide all the information required to make the returning phone call as simple as possible e.g. name, account number. It is also recommended to state how long the caller can expect to wait for a call back, make sure this information is attainable and the customer will be called back within this time.
4. Clearly state your phone line open times
By having your phone line open times visibly available online this will allow prospective customers to know the times they can call you and get an answer, just make sure someone is available to answer their call.
5. Ensure you have a good network connection
Bad network connections will mean you may not even realise you’re missing the calls in the first place. It would be recommended to use a network checker to select the best network for you in the areas you operate.
Bonus Help: Good Telephone Etiquette
Now you understand the importance of phone calls to businesses and how to prevent missed calls, the final step is to understand what it takes to have good business phone etiquette. This stage is vital, it is important to note that more often than not the initial communication point between your business and your customers is the one which forms that lasting first impression.
Whilst it can be difficult to communicate over the phone as neither party can pick up each other’s body language or nonverbal cues, callers will be judging your business for the way they are interacted with and their queries are handled. Communication is key, you should be using your words, tone and professionalism to establish and maintain strong connection with your customers. The following ten etiquette tips are a sure-fire way to ensure a positive experience for both you and your customers:
- Do not pick up on the first ring or let the phone ring more than three times. Two to three rings have been found to be the most ideal.
- Always answer with a positive greeting. Tip, smiling whilst talking helps to project your voice in a more positive tone.
- Speak in a clear tone at the right volume, this shouldn’t be too loud or too quiet.
- If a customer is required to be placed on hold first ask their permission and make it clear they are being placed on hold, not being hung up on. Always ensure you thank them for their patience upon returning to the call.
- Always listen to what your customer is saying without any interruptions. Listen first, respond second.
- If a return phone call has been promised ensure that this is fulfilled. It is important to ensure any time frames are adhered to in this scenario, ideally as quickly as possible.
- Have any information you may require at your fingertips for easy reference. You want to avoid wasting their time and yours.
- Be consistent.
- Always be polite, even when the customer calling may be wrong.
- Just as you answered in a positive manner, it is important to close with one. Make sure your customer hangs up feeling positive about their encounter with your business. You want to be remembered for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.