The true cost of missed business calls

Peyton Duplechien • 09 Sep 2019 • 8 min read

No matter what sort of business you run, if you have to answer customer calls regularly, you likely already know the impact missed calls can have on your business. But do you really know what the true impact of not picking up every phone call actually is? Naturally, a missed call here or there is hardly your organization’s Armageddon.

However, a culture of missed calls can be a breeding ground for serious damage to your business’s reputation. And if it remains unaddressed, these botched or abandoned phone calls could eventually escalate to threaten your company’s hard-earned reputation. So, to highlight just why you should be answering every phone call that comes your business’s way, we’ve broken down the true cost of missed business calls, as well as what you can do to offset this.

Why do businesses miss calls?

Sadly, many organizations today experience several common problems that often prevent them from answering their phones. This can be down to all manner of things, but tend to include the following:

1. Their lines are incredibly busy

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 and are 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 such a missed call as a red flag for a larger, potentially mismanaged business.

2. They’re understaffed

While company growth is an exciting and sought-after goal for most organizations, if not all of them, it’s not always as quick as we’d like. Often this is most notable in the accidental lapse of menial administrative activities, like properly greeting customers or promptly answering customer service inquiries. Simply put without enough employees to cover these specific, value-additive roles, returning phone calls quickly falls off the radar.

3. A lack of customer service priorities

Although most companies don’t actively avoid providing good customer service, in a great many cases, they may think what they’re offering is enough, which is very often not the case. Today, consumers expect an omnichannel purchasing experience with robust phone-based customer support functions. Thus, organizations that neglect phone calls across their omnichannel offerings jeopardize their relationships with roughly one out of every two contemporary customers.

4. A lack of technology

In some cases, a business may be stymied by simply having too few phone lines, cramped spaces, or poorly arranged office infrastructure. All of which can make getting to the phone in time tricky. Likewise, your workplace may be in the midst of a communications revolution, like what occurs when switching to voice over internet phone (VoIP) systems. All these can be technological roadblocks hindering you from effective phone servicing.

5. Calls outside of work hours

Does your office formally open at 8am yet you consistently receive customer service calls from other time zones far before then? Is it a three-day holiday weekend? In these instances, and more, you’re likely routinely missing calls and getting high abandon rates as customers grow frustrated with time-based inconveniences.

What missing calls can do to a small business

To put it bluntly, consistently missing phone calls jeopardizes your satisfaction ratings amongst customers. And if left unaddressed, it can become synonymous with your brand, as demonstrated by those companies who have, unfortunately, learned the hard way that poor customer service over the phone leads to a poor public reputation. But a missed call is not just a missed call. In many cases, it can also be the seminal event in a domino-like series of business faux pas, ones that can eventually turn into major existential issues:

1. Missed calls impact 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. With that in mind, you can probably see how missed telephone calls are innately counterproductive to lead generation. Yet few marketing leaders know just how counterproductive. For example, just take a look at these call statistics:

  1. 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.
  2. Of a business’ total number of phone calls, 48% – one out of every two – will take place after a mobile search
  3. “Click-to-call” widgets, or buttons on your webpage that, when selected, immediately dial your business’s phone number, have been shown to increase conversion rates by 200%
  4. Over 70% of consumers say they’ve used a click-to-call widget to contact a business
  5. 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.
  6. Another 60% of survey respondents would spend more on subsequent purchases after a good calling experience with a company

As you can see, good phone handling is absolutely essential for modern-day lead generation.

2. Miss calls impact brand reputation

As it 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. Who knew, right? In fact, research indicates between 80% and 93% of a customer’s impressions are 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. On top of this, three out of every four customers (74%) say they would ditch a brand after a poor customer service incident over the phone. Finally, another 70% said they’d share their negative calling experience with family and friends, dissuading others from interacting with your brand. About 30% of people would even share their negative brand perception online, both on social media and review sites.

What does a missed call mean for your business?

As you can see, there are many negatives associated with missing calls. However, they don’t just stop at business-wide issues. Below are some of the more subtle ways missed calls can impact your business:

1. Negative first impressions

Imagine that a caller was a prospective lead, 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. Well, chances are that a missed call will, indeed, help them make a decision – the decision to take their money elsewhere.

2. Damaged professionalism

Besides negative first impressions, missed calls generally reflect poorly on the maturity and capabilities of your business. Continually missing calls can even give off the impression you simply don’t care about your customers, both new and existing ones. As a result, your brand reputation may become synonymous with ineptitude and apathy. You may very well find your company is far less likely to experience the name renown, conversion rates, and thought leadership you dream of.

3. Squandered marketing expenses

Remember those click-to-call widgets described earlier, the ones over 70% of online shoppers say they’ve used? Well, 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? However, 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, or spotting your logo on their kid’s youth soccer jersey, only to be turned off by your inability to pick up the line.

4. Demotivated employees

Employees who experience abandoned phone calls may very well begin internalizing a lack of commitment to customers. After all, they’re simply mimicking the priorities they see demonstrated around them. Customer service often suffers in turn as a result, as well as a decrease in general office morale and the sense that the business isn’t working hard to help real people.

5. Lost referrals

While a missed lead or order is bad enough, in many cases, 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

At the end of the day, 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 an employee’s normal routines and stymying progress on other value-adding projects and work.

How to handle missed calls professionally

So, you get it, missed calls are bad. But the good news is that there are many ways to deal with them professionally should accidentally miss the phone. We recommend following the general routine outlined below when reaching out to missed callers:

  1. Survey your voicemail: be sure to temperature-check all the messages left on your business’ voicemail before calling back. Chances are, these callers have specific questions or time-sensitive pain points that 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, to be sure you catch everything.
  2. Get your priorities straight: make a list of who to call back when you do find you have voicemails, then stagger that list from highest to lowest priority by 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, as they’re the ones indicating a clear communicative need.
  3. Take ownership of a missed call: when calling back, begin your call with a clear apology, stating that you’re glad you’ve been able to connect and are ready to assist in any way. You may also want to include the reason you missed their initial call, though keep these explanations relevant and brief.
  4. Offer an add-on: you might want to 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 and shows goodwill and top-tier customer service.
  5. State timelines and deliverables: if relevant, you should always relay the exact time or date the caller can expect their issue to be resolved or their product or service to arrive. Providing these concrete details gives reassurance to the caller that they’re, a priority, and that your business takes their patronage seriously.
  6. Suggest further touchpoints: finally, 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. That way, they have other options on top of calling you directly.

Hiring new employees vs a virtual receptionist

Although reaching out to missed calls as soon as possible is important, it’s a far better strategy to have a team in place beforehand so that calls never get missed to begin with. However, while hiring new customer service specialists or receptionists to meet your needs could be the solution, doing so comes with plenty of additional caveats to bear in mind. These can include:

  1. Increased overheads due to new salaries
  2. The cost of additional training
  3. The time it takes for training to be complete
  4. The cost of additional employee benefits packages
  5. The impact of sick days
  6. The impact of time off

And, naturally, the more new employees you take on, the more these will impact your business, which is why it might be much more convenient to hire the skills of a Virtual Receptionist team instead.

Why hire a virtual receptionist?

As the name suggests, 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 their Live Answering Service needs, and there are plenty more benefits on top of this:

  1. Functionality: you can employ virtual receptionists for a wide range of 24/7 administrative needs, such as live customer support, simple order processing, call patching and directing, message taking, calendar scheduling, and more.
  2. Convenience: virtual receptionists can help unburden your business from a traditional – and expensive – brick-and-mortar 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 available.
  3. Productivity: a virtual receptionist keeps you from being distracted by the constant slew of business phone calls. This means you can focus on high-value work without worrying calls are falling by the wayside.
  4. Growth: virtual receptionists are trained to deliver top-tier customer support and they’re also for 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 – when executed well – positions your business for greater growth.

Use VoiceNation for your virtual receptionist needs

As you can see, a Virtual Receptionist is a powerful tool for avoiding missed calls. And if you want to invest in this service immediately, then you should get in touch with the VoiceNation team today. With flexible pricing options, there are many reasons to pick VoiceNation as your answering service of choice. See what we have to offer by calling us, and don’t forget to browse similar blogs to this one, such as the impact of bad customer service, answering services vs voicemail, and how to avoid putting customers on hold.