According to research by Microsoft, one in three customers says that not being able to get in touch with an actual human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer experience.
Regardless of industry or the company’s size, every touchpoint with customers, including phone calls, matters to sales and customer service.
With technology stepping up to fill the gaps in service, for example, live chat on sites, and telephone answering services, there really is no excuse for businesses missing opportunities to communicate with their customers.
Every contact with a customer can improve or perhaps damage your brand reputation. It could be a customer calling because they need help resolving an issue, and when a company fails to take the call, the customer can and will share their poor experience.
The Cost Of Missing Customer Calls
Google reviews and social media are just a couple of ways customers can make or break your standing with your other customers.
What’s worse is missing a call that’s from a potential new customer calling with questions or at the point of making a purchase. Live chat is an excellent solution to filling the void for some buyers; however, a third of us really just like reaching for the telephone and speaking to a natural person.
According to BT Business, a single missed call costs a company £1,200.
Whatever the reason for the call, missing them can cost your business money and also your reputation in the long term.
Tips To Catch Every Call
There are several options available if a business is consistently missing calls. In this article, Andy MacGregor, Managing Director of outsourced telephone answering service Face For Business, discusses the options available to businesses regarding missing phone calls.
1 – Install multiple employee extensions
Every business requires a single, central number that makes it easy for customers to get in touch without wondering which number they’re meant to call. But having a single number can create problems if only one person can contact you at a time.
A good solution is to create a single number with multiple extensions that customers can use to directly reach the person – or at least the department – within your business they want to achieve.
Also, multiple extensions can save the caller time they’d lose if they had to first go through a central switchboard.
Having multiple extension lines can work well in a single office but could also be rolled out if your team is spread out.
2 – Use an automatic call forwarding service
If you don’t have an office, i.e., you’re a solo business owner or have your employees working from home, one way to retain a single business number but allow multiple people to answer it is to install automatic call forwarding. This also saves your employees from giving out their personal numbers to customers.
Automatic call forwarding can be a good option because you can always turn it off out of hours to save you and your team dealing with business calls out of hours.
However, ideally, you’ll want to avoid leaving customers with a voice machine that – the research suggests – they’re not likely to use.
However, a lot of administration comes with setting up and managing call forwarding (particularly if you have to add or disconnect phone numbers from the system – like when employees go on holiday or leave, for example).
You also run the risk of problems with the system if a call is forwarded to the wrong person, and there’s no way to connect a customer to the right person unless they call back.
3 – Invest in call queuing
If call forwarding sounds like too big of a risk and you don’t want to rely on voicemails, call queueing can help keep customers on the line a little longer before getting to them.
Most customers will be familiar with queuing – it’s used in most doctor surgeries and customer service departments.
However, it does carry the risk that you could leave a customer in a queue for too long and have them hang up. There is also a risk of escalating a harmful situation if a customer calls for information they’ve been struggling to find, and you keep them waiting a long time.
According to some research by NewVoice, a quarter of customers will give up contacting a business and decide against trying again if they feel they’ve been left on hold for too long.
4 – Use a digital phone system
Digital phone systems are growing in popularity, with traditional ISDN lines not available from some providers and will be completely switched off from 2025.
Digital phone systems (usually called Voice over Internet Protocol) move your phone network onto the internet, rather than a fixed phone line running into a single location.
With calls being managed over the internet, it allows for all calls to be answered by any phone or mobile device connected to the system. A digital phone system can be a perfect solution for remote working, too, as it allows employees to answer a company’s central business number from any location on any device.
A digital phone system also centralizes all a business’ calls, messages, and video calls under one platform.
However, there can be some significant investment in bringing VoIP phones, and it might not be worth the initial outlay for a smaller business.
5 – Recruit a receptionist
The most traditional way to manage phone calls in an office is to simply hire a full-time receptionist – or at least a staff member to exclusively handle phone calls.
Retaining a single point of contact for your business, a receptionist gives you a resource to answer calls, take messages, forward calls to the right people, and even potentially answer basic customer questions.
However, it may not be a perfect solution due to the cost of hiring a receptionist – smaller businesses are just not in a position to do it.
You’re looking at a minimum of £20,000 a year in base salary, plus tax and holiday and national insurance payments for a good receptionist. Plus, by only having a single person available to answer the phone, you lose your resource as soon as they’re on the phone or dealing with a customer.
6 – Invest in an outsourced telephone answering service
A telephone answering service provides a great mix of cost-effective and flexible benefits to fit in with any sized business.
Like some of the other options we’ve mentioned, you get to retain a single business number to make it easy for customers to contact you.
Unlike hiring a single receptionist with a telephone answering service, you get a team who will handle your business’ calls and cover for each other when one is away. This means all your calls will be answered, and you never need to worry about one slipping through the cracks.
Plus, because you only pay for the service you use (and you can scale the service up and down depending on your requirements), you won’t have the more significant financial costs involved with hiring a staff member.
This may be the perfect solution to avoiding missed calls. 🙂
Ignoring missed calls will be costing your business sales and probably dent its reputation. Investing to improve your business’ call answering processes is a positive move. As mentioned above, there are a few options to do it well, including live chat on your site and upgrading your phone system.