5 minute read |

The impact of missed calls on your business

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Business VoIP

Like most business owners, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your phone system. As long as it works, it’s fine, right? Wrong! You may not think of it but missed calls make a big impact on a company. The worst part is that you don’t even know it’s happening. 

Even if your staff can answer the phone every single time it rings, you don’t know the number of callers who hang up because the line is busy. Or the potential customers who don’t bother to leave a voicemail. If you think missed calls are not a big deal for your team, think again.

What is a missed call?

A missed call happens when a customer is unable to talk to a person when they call your office. This can happen for a number of reasons the most common scenarios are:

  • A potential customer calls your business but the line is busy. Most people will not bother calling you back.
  • A customer call goes to voicemail as your staff is busy with other responsibilities. Many people do not like leaving a message and will hang up instead. 
  • A loyal customer is put on hold when they call you to fix a problem. Depending on the problem, they may wait 10 minutes or just hang up and go to a competitor. 

The cost of a single missed call

Now, you may assume missing one call is not a big deal. It’s just one call in a day. But that single missed call sets off a chain reaction. If it’s a first-time caller, you’ve missed the opportunity to make a sale. If it’s a returning or loyal customer, you have lost them to a competing business. It doesn’t stop there. 

That customer will almost certainly talk about their bad service experience to others. They may also post a bad review online about your company. It means you’ve lost several potential customers, taken a hit to your reputation, and wasted the marketing dollars spent in getting that customer to call you in the first place. 

Suppose you convert 25% of incoming calls into a sale/job. If the average transaction value is $100, then each missed call costs you $25.

The long terms costs of missed calls

The cost of a single missed call varies between enterprises. Again, you may think $25 is insignificant. But these costs add up over the long term. If you miss 2 calls a day, that’s 10 calls over the course of a week. $250 a week adds up to more than $12,000 each year!

And it’s not just the potential sale and loss of referrals. Your reputation and brand take a huge hit the longer this goes on. You will find fewer customers are willing to tolerate a bad experience and most will seek out other companies to work with. 

It does mean your incoming calls will decrease and maybe you won’t miss so many calls. But is that really a good situation for your company?

Why missed calls happen

Now that you know the impact missed calls have on your business, you want to fix it. To do that, you need to know why missed calls happen. There are several common reasons but you need to figure out which one applies to your company.

  • Employees are busy with other responsibilities

This situation is not uncommon in a small or medium business. You may not necessarily have dedicated staff answering the phones. It’s more likely that a few people handle the phones along with other responsibilities. However, it means staff is often too busy to answer incoming calls. They may be in a meeting, go out to lunch, or even simply step away from the desk for a moment. It only takes a minute to miss a call!

  • Not enough staff

Suppose your staff does answer the phone every time it rings. It still doesn’t mean you don’t have missed calls. Your business may get so many calls that your employees cannot handle it all. Customers may hang up if you leave them on hold for too long or even if they get a busy signal. Few will bother to call back or leave a message if you use voicemail. 

  • After hours calls

In a global and competitive market, your customers expect service 24×7. But your staff has to go home at the end of a long day. Maybe you forward incoming calls to voicemail or play a message asking customers to call during business hours. That may work for potential customers but what if it’s a loyal customer who needs to fix a problem with your product or service? You’ve probably lost that customer forever. 

  • Technical glitches

Technical issues or the lack of appropriate tools also cause missed calls. If your staff use mobile phones for business calls, your phone system may not support forwarding calls to those devices. If your main number is experiencing issues, the system may be unable to transfer calls to an alternate number. The basic system that’s within your budget does not include sophisticated features like auto-attendant, call forwarding, hold queues, etc. 

How to avoid missed calls

Depending on why your business misses calls, you will need to implement one or several different solutions. Here are a few things you can do to minimize missed calls:

  • Add IVR for simple queries

The first step you should try is to minimize the incoming call volume. Analyze your calls and find out the most common reasons for customers to contact you. Do you get calls asking for basic info like business hours, directions? Deploying an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system can handle such queries. It’s a win-win as customers get what they want and your staff is free to handle more complex questions.

  • Add an option for a callback

Suppose the bulk of your calls are about fixing problems with a product or service. These customers need help now but you have them in a hold queue waiting their turn. Instead, you could offer the option to call them back. They don’t have to wait for 20 minutes listening to hold music and don’t lose their place in line. Your staff simply calls them back when it’s their turn. Again, everyone saves time by not waiting.

  • Improve self-service options

One major reason why customers want to call you is that they cannot find the information they need somewhere else. Do you have a website with guides and training videos? Or maybe your social media page posts helpful tips and ways to use your product. Point customers to those options instead of them having to call you for simple instructions. Most customers search online for what they need before picking up the phone. So a chatbot or FAQs on your website is often a great solution.

  • Enable advanced features 

Today’s digital phone systems offer an array of options to handle incoming calls. If your staff is on the road frequently, mobile integration is a must. Many vendors offer smartphone apps so staff can make and receive business calls on their personal devices. You can use features like multi-device ring (incoming calls ring several devices at once or one after the other) to ensure no one misses a call even if they’re not at the office.   

  • Stagger staff according to call stats

Another way to minimize missed calls is to use your existing staff effectively. Evaluate your current incoming calls and see if you can spot patterns. Maybe you get more calls in the morning and hardly any towards the end of the day. Or call volume may be high on Mondays and taper off towards the weekend. Use this information to staff the phones accordingly. 

If you have 2 people to handle calls, let them start at different times during the day. This way you cover the phones for longer but no one has to work overtime. You can also rotate staff based on the day. Assign one person to answer calls throughout the week. You can then add 1 or 2 people to handle calls on busy days only such as Monday morning.

Staggering staff also allows you to offer flexible working hours to employees. Some people may have other responsibilities and will appreciate coming to work later or leaving work early. This system can also work if you want to extend your business hours or remain open for calls during holidays.

  • Add staff to manage call volume

This is perhaps the most expensive solution, especially for a small business. If you’ve tried every other alternative and still miss calls regularly, then it’s time to hire more staff. As a first step, you can re-organize your team so that 1 or 2 people handle incoming calls exclusively. Relieve them of other responsibilities so they can focus on customer service. If that is insufficient, then hire enough staff to handle the phones. Sometimes all it takes is one extra person to minimize the stress on existing staff.

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