It probably comes as no surprise that missed calls are bad for business. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how long you’ve been in business — too many missed calls coupled with slack customer service will send even your most loyal clients packing.
Here’s the ugly truth.
Back in 2014, a study by BT Business of 1,600 decision-makers in small and medium-sized firms found that one-fifth of customers will only call once, and on average, a missed call can lose a business as much as $1,600 (£1,200).
That’s a significant loss for any business, but it’s particularly noticeable for small companies.
Why is it happening?
For smaller firms, it’s often down to limited resources. There simply aren’t enough people in the team, much less a dedicated receptionist, to answer calls in a timely and professional manner.
For sole traders, or even for startups or SMEs with a workforce of two or three people, you must prioritize your tasks and sometimes, despite best intentions, that means letting calls slip to voicemail.
Another reason for missed calls is calling after business hours. This isn’t an easy fix (unless you have a sizeable budget for a round-the-clock workforce) but there are certain ways to minimize this issue and improve the caller experience.
With this in mind, what can you do to lessen the impact of missed calls?
Stop Being Your Own Receptionist.
If you’re the CEO or business owner, and unless you’re running a call center business, you’re probably not the best person to answer company calls. Sure, sole traders will pick up the phone to absolutely everyone, because if they don’t do it, nobody else will.
But is that really the best use of your time?
The obvious answer is to delegate your call handling duties to someone else, who has the time and expertise to focus on your company’s receptionist duties. But that doesn’t mean hiring a full-time receptionist. Many small businesses simply don’t have the budget to take on a permanent member of staff, and even if they do, what happens when your receptionist books a vacation or takes a sick day? You’re right back where you’re started.
Try a Virtual Receptionist Service.
The solution to most of these quandaries can be found in a live receptionist service. If you’re not already aware, virtual receptionist services take care of your company’s daily (Monday-Friday) calls, which includes taking calls in your company name, liaising with clients, forwarding calls, taking messages, booking appointments, and generally acting as your company receptionist.
The difference is, they’re based remotely and they’re not a full-time member of your team. That means you don’t need to set aside a permanent salary, nor do you need to worry about HR issues. It’s flexible, and you simply pay for the time you need.
Ramp Up Your Customer Service.
As you might have guessed, in addition to capturing more calls and reducing the amount of people who get shunted to voicemail — or disappear completely — your remote receptionist is a customer service professional who knows the job, inside and out. That means your callers get a much improved service from the moment they pick up the phone.
Improve Your Technology.
What’s more, many remote receptionist services now go one better. In addition to answering calls, they also take care of calendar management and appointment scheduling. With the help of automated technology, your receptionist can view your availability and schedule bookings or call-backs at a time that’s best for you, and your caller. Once again, it’s a big tick in the customer service box, and it will also save you and your client a huge amount of time.
On the subject of technology, you can further improve your customer service (and save more missed calls) by improving your telephone system. For instance, instead of a generic voicemail system and an automated message, today’s virtual phone solutions give you a fantastic choice of features that give your callers a much better all-round experience.
From caller menus and custom greetings to extension numbers and on-hold music or branded messages, you can help guide your callers to the right person and educate them about your business (and your opening hours) along the way, simply by upgrading your phone system.
They might seem like small steps. But a simple missed call or a below-par service can have ugly lasting effects on your business, especially if that caller happens to be your VIP client.
It certainly pays to invest in your customer service, and given the fantastic choice of flexible live receptionist services and intuitive technology now available to small businesses, it’s an opportunity (and a phone call) that you can’t afford to miss.