If you don't have enough operatives to handle your calls effectively during the working week or you switch your system to voicemail out of hours, your business could suffer the consequences of poor call handling. This isn’t to downplay the professionalism or ability of your team, but when people are forced to answer large numbers of calls in addition to their main role or are faced with a higher than usual workload, their ability to answer every call and to handle each one effectively, becomes compromised.
For most UK SMEs, it isn’t cost-effective to have a dedicated call centre, relying instead on individual team members to handle calls, maybe with a single receptionist used as a gatekeeper. This means that during peak times, and outside office hours, you could be missing out on sales and customer service opportunities. Let's examine five of the main problems that can arise when you don't have a high-quality 24/7 call handling service in place:
1. Missed Sales Opportunities
Your potential customers will want to speak to someone at your company quickly and at a time that suits them and be given your full, undivided attention. If no one answers their call, or they are left waiting, or worse – if their call is picked up by someone who is flustered or unprepared, they may take their custom elsewhere.
Negative experiences have a habit of lingering in a person’s mind and it doesn’t take much to make a poor first impression. If a call goes unanswered, you shouldn’t assume that interested parties will call again or leave a voicemail if they can't get through. 85% of people whose calls aren't picked up won't make contact again and only one out of four people will leave a message on an automated voicemail. Using a third-party call handling service, such as Answer4u, guarantees that every call is answered promptly and professionally, by an agent trained in fielding sales and customer service calls.
2. Poor Returns from Marketing Campaigns
All the effort, planning, and money poured into marketing campaigns risks being wasted if you are unable to provide A++ call handling. If you're missing out on sales enquiries due to a lack of staff or the use of an inadequate after hours call handling solution, you'll be squandering your marketing budget, falling short of your ROI and growth goals. Even if your main focus is digital marketing, more often than not, sales are closed over the phone, so poor call handling will still affect your conversion rates.
3. Inefficient Sales Administration
Poor call handling can also lead to administrative delays in setting up new customer accounts, increasing your sales cycle time and reducing the amount of profit you make per sale. It can even lead to promising new customers being lost at the onboarding stage. This never happens deliberately of course but if your telephone messages pile up, it will take your sales and customer support staff longer to sort through, prioritise, and deal with them. Meanwhile, your prospective customers get more and more frustrated waiting to hear from you. Staff employed by SMEs waste, on average, more than three hours each week dealing with callers complaining about the fact that they couldn't get through to someone immediately – a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
4. Lower Customer Retention Rates
The importance of growth and new business sales pales in comparison to the significance of customer retention. Many businesses assume that existing customers are happy when that may not be the case at all, so it’s critical that every call from an existing customer is answered and dealt with professionally. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people take customer service personally, and people who receive poor phone service from a company often won't even bother to complain. They'll simply take their business elsewhere. This could mean that you'll struggle to hang on to your customers and will need to make more sales just to maintain a stable client base – an expensive way of growing a business. It's common knowledge that it costs significantly more to attract a new customer than to hold on to an existing one, so losing clients due to poor call handling doesn't make good business sense. This is easily avoidable by using an outsourced call handling service to support your in-house team.
5. Poor Business Reputation
If you handle your calls badly, it could affect the reputation of your brand, leading to negative reviews on social media and Google. This reputational damage could be time-consuming and difficult to repair. When consumers receive poor service, they tell an average of 24 people directly, and negative reviews are frequently the first thing that appears when people Google a company name. No one misses a two-star review, however much glowing feedback a business may otherwise have. So, when you aren't dealing with calls effectively, word will soon spread. You'll need to spend significant time and energy to rectify the situation, and it's better to ensure that it never arises in the first place.
Call Handling Support from Answer4u
The best way to avoid having to deal with any of these issues is to use an emergency and out of hours call handling company like Answer4u. We'll deal with your calls professionally and effectively so you can provide prospective and existing customers with exceptional service whenever they choose to ring. To find out more about how utilising our services could benefit your company, please get in touch with one of our advisors today.