Hear that? That’s the exasperated sighs of current and prospective customers hanging up after giving your business a ring — and getting silence in return.
A missed call here or there is hardly your organization’s Armageddon. Yet a culture of missed calls breeds serious damage to your reputation. If unaddressed, those botched or abandoned phone calls can eventually escalate to threaten the very existence of your businesses.
We’re discussing how missed telephone calls really affect today’s businesses — and, more importantly, what you can do about them.
Why Businesses Miss Calls
Organizations today experience several problems preventing them from timely answering their phones:
- It’s busy: Hey, we get it. Sometimes the day gets ahead of us. The phone may be ringing off the hook, but you and your employees are swamped, too busy to give it the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, most customers are not so lenient when left hanging on the line. More than likely, they’ll interpret the missed call as a red flag for a larger mismanaged business.
- It’s understaffed: Company growth is an exciting and sought-after goal for most organizations, if not all of them. However, with growth comes growing pains, most notably in the lapse of menial administrative activities like properly greeting customers or promptly answering customer service inquiries. Without enough employees to cover these specific, value-additive roles, returning phone calls quickly falls off the radar.
- It doesn’t prioritize customer service: Or, more perniciously, a company thinks they’re practicing good customer service — when the reality is otherwise. Today, consumers expect an omnichannel purchasing experience with robust phone-based customer support functions. Organizations that neglect phone calls across their omnichannel offerings jeopardize their relationships with roughly one out of every two contemporary customers.
- It doesn’t have the right technology: A business may be stymied by too few phone lines, cramped spaces or poorly arranged office infrastructure. Likewise, your workplace may be in the midst of a communications evolution, like what occurs when switching to voice over internet phone (VoIP) systems. All these can be technological roadblocks hindering you from effective phone servicing.
- It gets calls outside of business hours: Does your office formally open at 8 a.m. yet receive customer service calls from other time zones far before then? Is it a three-day holiday weekend? These instances, and more, routinely lead to missed calls and high abandon rates as customers grow frustrated with time-based inconveniences.
Consistently missing phone calls jeopardizes your satisfaction ratings amongst customers. If unaddressed, it becomes synonymous with your brand — as demonstrated by these companies who have, unfortunately, learned the hard way that poor customer service over the phone leads to a poor public reputation.
The Unfortunate Realities of Missed Calls
A missed call is not just a missed call. It’s the seminal event in a domino-like series of business faux pas, ones that can eventually turn existential.
See for yourself how missed telephone calls and high call abandon rates quickly spell trouble for the entire enterprise.
1. Missed Calls and Lead Generation
Lead generation consists of all the ways your business courts new customers, from the moment they first hear about you through strategic marketing touchpoints down to that all-important inaugural purchase.
Missed telephone calls are innately counterproductive to lead generation. Yet few marketing leaders know just how counterproductive. Consider these call statistics:
- Mobile searches now account for nearly half of all internet searches. In the U.S., mobile search has been consistently on the rise and now represents 57% of all internet queries.
- Of a business’ total number of phone calls, 48% — one out of every two — will take place after a mobile search.
- “Click-to-call” widgets, or buttons on your webpage that, when selected, immediately dial your business’ phone number, have been shown to increase conversion rates by 200%.
- Over 70% of consumers say they’ve used a click-to-call widget to contact a business.
- A whopping 80% of survey respondents said they’d be likely to become a repeat customer with a brand after having a positive phone interaction.
- Another 60% of survey respondents would spend more on subsequent purchases after a good calling experience with a company.
2. Miss Calls and Brand Reputation
Turns out how your business presents itself over the phone — or doesn’t, in the case of missed calls — correlates with the broader perceptions it comes to be known for:
- Research indicates between 80 and 93% of a customer’s impression is based on the tone of your voice during a phone call, compared to the words you say or even the quality of assistance you provide.
- Three out of every four customers (74%) say they would ditch a brand after a poor customer service incident over the phone.
- Another 70% say they’d share their negative calling experience with family and friends, dissuading others’ from interacting with your brand. About 30% of people would also share their negative brand perception online, both on social media or review sites.
What Does a Missed Call Mean for Your Business?
Missed calls trigger far more consequences than just lost revenue from phone orders or sales.
1. Negative First Impressions
Imagine that caller was a prospect, someone interested in your products or services but still in the decision phase. Perhaps they called to get a quote for a service package or to inquire about the ability for product customizations.
Chances are that missed call will, indeed, help them make a decision — to take their money elsewhere.
2. Damaged Professionalism
Missing calls reflects poorly on the maturity and capacities of your business. Yet continually missing calls can even give off the impression you simply don’t care about your customers, both new and existing. As a result, your brand reputation becomes synonymous with ineptitude and apathy. You’ll find your company is far less likely to experience the name renown, conversion rates and thought leadership you dream of.
3. Squandered Advertising, Marketing Dollars
Remember those click-to-call widgets described earlier, the ones over 70% of online shoppers say they’ve used? What’s the point of strategizing, designing and building them into your website if you don’t hold up your end of their bargain — that is, picking up the lead’s call?
Click-to-call widget conversions are only one example of wasted marketing money. Callers could be inspired after reading your blog, seeing a Facebook post, hearing a local radio ad, spotting your logo on their kid’s youth soccer jersey — the list goes on, as does your squandered money when you don’t pick up the line.
4. Demotivated Employees
Employees who witness missed or abandoned phone calls may also begin internalizing a lack of commitment to customers. After all, they’re simply mimicking the priorities they see demonstrated around them. Customer service suffers as a result, as well as general office morale and the sense the business is working hard to help real people.
5. Lost Referrals
Sure, that missed lead or order is bad enough. Yet missed calls also mean losing any potential word-of-mouth referrals from a caller, who could have told family and friends about your business. Had you picked up the phone, you could have made a connection with them and their network, resulting in proliferating returns from a single source.
6. Wasted Time
Missed calls waste everyone’s time. The caller has taken a portion of their day to reach out to you personally yet has nothing to show for it. In return, your business scrambles to return those calls, deviating employees’ normal routines and stymying progress on other value-adding projects and work.
How to Handle Missed Calls Professionally
Good news! Not all is lost when your organization misses a few telephone calls. In fact, there is a straightforward approach to missed phone call damage control, one that demonstrates your organization knows how to return a missed call professionally and personably.
Follow this general outline when reaching out to missed callers:
- Survey your voicemail: Temperature check all the messages left on your business’ voicemail. Chances are, these callers have specific questions or time-sensitive pain points they need to be addressed rather than passive ones, which tend to not necessitate leaving a voicemail. Make it a habit to check your business’ voicemail every day, even if you don’t think you’ve missed any calls.
- Get your priorities straight: Make a list of who to call back. Stagger that list from highest to lowest priority, using info gleaned from caller ID and any voicemail messages. A good rule of thumb is to first call back a number that’s reached you two to three times over the course of one week. Those should be your highest priority customers, as they’re the ones indicating a clear communicative need compared to one-off callers — though they’re important, too.
- Take ownership of the missed call: Begin your call with a clear apology, stating that you’re glad you’ve been able to connect and ready to assist in any way. You may also want to include the reason you missed their initial call, though keep explanations relevant and brief. Lingering on the reason too long can quickly sound like an excuse.
- Offer an add-on: Consider giving a bonus perk, product or discount to the individuals whose calls you’ve missed. This directly counteracts the negative impression the missed call may have induced as well as shows goodwill and top-tier customer service.
- State timelines and deliverables: If relevant, relay the exact time or date the caller can expect their issue resolved or their product or service to arrive. Providing these concrete details give reassurance the caller is, indeed, a priority, and your business takes their patronage seriously.
- Suggest further touchpoints: End the conversation with additional ways you and the caller can stay in touch, including via social media, an email newsletter or even your personal email address.
Hiring Additional Employees Versus Hiring a Virtual Receptionist
At first glance, the answer to reducing your number of missed calls may be to hire more employees.
More specifically, businesses look into bringing on two kinds of employees whose roles fundamentally involve telephone communications:
- Customer service specialists: Customer service specialists interface directly with clients to answer questions, resolve disputes or clarify product or service concerns. While technology has spurred advancements in the way customer service is done — for example, chatbots, email tickets and text-based support — many customers still prefer talking to live customer service agents.
- Receptionists: Receptionists often work as a front-house face greeting clients, coordinating messages, organizing business schedules and more. They also serve as the main telephone touchpoint when outsiders contact your organization, including fielding many clients or prospect phone leads and then connecting those leads to relevant downstream personnel.
While this instinct to add employees to handle calls makes intuitive sense, it’s unfeasible for the vast majority of organizations. Today, the average cost of hiring just one full-time receptionist adds up to nearly $33,000 a year. That’s an expense few organizations can justify to alleviate missed call rates, and still doesn’t account for other cost-prohibitive employee expenditures:
- Employee benefits, such as medical, dental, vision and retirement
- Sick days
- Paid vacation
- Training and onboarding expenses
- Personal computer, phone-line extensions and similar technological infrastructure
- Workspace supplies
- And more
Luckily, organizations looking to mitigate the damage of missed calls do have a cost-effective alternative — virtual receptionists.
A virtual receptionist plays a near-identical role to their traditional in-house counterparts. However, they cost a fraction of what full-time receptionists do while providing the exact same services. For this reason and more, many organizations are turning to virtual receptionists as the solution to live telephone answering:
- Functionality: Use virtual receptionists for a complete range of 24/7 administrative needs, such as live customer support, simple order processing, call patching and directing, message taking, calendar scheduling and more.
- Convenience: Virtual receptionists unburden your business from a traditional — and expensive — brick-and-motor presentation. Callers get the same attention and assistance they would from a physical, in-office representative, while you’re free to work wherever you want, whenever you want, yet still be in touch.
- Productivity: A virtual receptionist keeps you from being distracted by the constant slew of business phone calls. You can focus on high-value work without worrying calls are falling to the wayside.
- Growth: Virtual receptionists deliver top-tier customer support. They’re also at the front lines of your lead generation and branding efforts, interfacing with prospects at crucial moments. Together, this makes a virtual receptionist an invaluable addition to your sales and marketing strategies, which — executed well — position your business ultimately for growth.
Discover How Virtual Receptionists Help You Master Missed Calls
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