There is plenty of research indicating millennials’ hesitancy to leave recorded messages or even check their voicemail. An article published in the New York Times last year detailed likely reasons that millennials shy away from voicemail. It’s an understandable social reaction for an entire demographic that grew up with texting and detailed missed call information on their mobile screen. Reviewing voicemails is more time consuming than scanning a text or simply returning the phone call at their convenience.
The decline of voice calls and voicemail has also been fuelled by the ever-expanding data plan. Today’s consumers have virtually unlimited access to their social media networks, e-mail and the Internet at large. Many prefer to check your company’s website to calling in for answers to their enquiries.
This trend works well enough in social situations, but it has more serious implications in business circles. In particular, companies need to understand that any messages they leave on potential customers’ voice mail systems are likely to be discarded before they are even listened to. Likewise, incoming callers are going to be reluctant—if not downright unwilling—to leave a message on an automated system. They’ll just call another service provider who’s ready to pick up the phone on the spot.
The latter is particularly important given millennials’ reluctance to place voice calls in general. In the age of texting and social media, if someone has actually gone to the trouble of calling in to your business, they probably have what they consider to be an urgent matter to discuss with you. This could be a specific enquiry, a problem with a product they have purchased or even an outright sale. Presumably, they would have attempted to address the situation without any direct on-the-phone interaction if they thought that was possible.
So in this day and age, when the phone rings, it is safe to say that you want to have someone standing by to answer it. This ensures that you pick up every extra sale possible while maintaining a well-respected customer service record. Both of these are, of course, essential to the bottom line.
In that light, let’s look at a few ways that missing an incoming call could be costing your business serious money:
Losing out to competitors
For as long as telephones have played a core role in communications, missed calls have been part of the equation. When landlines reigned supreme, it was understood that you couldn’t always be sitting by the telephone waiting for it to ring.
However, the advent of the mobile phone has changed this dynamic, and consumers have grown more accustomed to the instant gratification of having their friends and colleagues pick up the phone pretty much anytime they call. This has sharpened their expectations for commercial operations.
These days, consumers expect you to pick up the phone whenever they call in. If they have deal with the hassle of leaving a message or calling back again later, they are much more likely to look up the number of one of your competitors and see what sort of response they get upon dialling it. If your customer service agents aren’t available on the first or second call, your company is probably going to be scratched from the list of potential service providers.
Loss of customer service reputation
Good customer service is a cornerstone of any commercial operation, regardless of size. Providing good customer service will cost the company in terms of time, resources and money, but it pays back in major dividends, including the following:
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased frequency of sales to a particular company
- Increased spend per transaction
- Positive word-of-mouth
- Reduced barriers to buying
There are several ways to provide excellent customer service. One of them is to give prompt attention to incoming calls. Of course, it’s not enough simply to answer the phone. You also need to have a highly skilled representative managing the line—someone who can immediately address concerns, provide accurate information and direct the call to a person who can offer a solution.
Loss of business outside of main operating hours
Many small to medium-sized businesses are guilty of only manning the lines during regular business hours. There are situations in which this could be nearly (if not completely) adequate. For example, if the company provides b2b services for businesses within the same time zone, then most calls are probably going to come in during business hours.
However, the situation changes for b2c operations. In this case, potential customers likely have their own day jobs and won’t be free to call in until they’re off the clock. This means a significant number of incoming calls are going to be placed when there’s no one around to field them. Setting a system in place to ensure that out-of-hours calls are still answered can significantly cut down on losses in this department.
Conclusion: Losing Out on the Potential Connections
The bottom line here is that every missed call is a missed opportunity. That incoming call could be a chance to make a direct sale or sow a seed for a future one. Likewise, it could be an opportunity to shore up a customer relationship or drive home the fact that your company genuinely cares about the concerns of its patrons.
It’s difficult to place an exact figure on the value of a missed call. What’s most important to understand is that the value is significant. When your company hires a call answering service to field these calls, it won’t take long to see the difference. You’ll probably wonder why you hadn’t looked into this possibility earlier.