More than a third of UK customers say they would pay more for a product if they were guaranteed great service, according to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index.
Customer service takes many forms, but it starts from the first time a customer contacts your business, not just during the buying process.
There are many ways for customers to contact a company today.
Email, chat bots, via social media, the number of digital comms available is growing all the time.
Despite all this, phone calls remain the preference for the majority of customers, especially when calling a small business, or when trying to resolve a complex issue.
So how important is a business’ call answering process? And what benefits can you see from getting it right?
Make the right first impression
As the old saying goes you only get one chance to make a first impression.
And with most customers still preferring to call a company in the first instance, this means answering the phone in a professional manner.
Answering the phone might sound simple. But it’s not always straightforward.
You might already be in a meeting. Or travelling. Or working. Or you might just miss the call.
Then you’re relying on customers leaving a voicemail – which isn’t guaranteed.
In fact, around 80% of callers sent to voicemail don’t leave messages.
Even if you’ve got employees, you can’t be guaranteed a professional telephone answering service, especially when it’s not their main job.
When employees are busy, a ringing phone can be seen more as an inconvenience than a chance to help a customer.
Plus, a lot of employees haven’t had training on how to deal with calls, or use the phones in the office, so there’s lots of potential for things to go wrong.
Answering the phone in a professional manner can set the tone for the rest of the customer’s interaction with your business.
Even if you aren’t able to resolve their issue on the first call, they’ll be reassured they’ve spoken to someone and it’s being looked into.
Call answering creates a human touch
More than half of customers prefer to speak to a real person on the phone rather than deal with an automated answering service.
This is particularly true when they’re trying to resolve a problem quickly or they want to talk about something especially complex or sensitive.
Having a person on the end of the phone is also reassuring from a customer perspective.
Sure, it can sometimes be simpler to register a request online or send an email.
But how do you know the problem is being looked at?
Or that someone has actually seen the request?
Especially as the most you usually get is an automated response saying your request “will be looked at as soon as possible”.
How quickly is that?
Speaking to an actual person provides confidence for a customer that someone in your company knows there’s a problem and is trying to resolve it.
At a time when 66% of customers expect more personalisation and for businesses to understand unique needs and expectations, simply having a human voice on the end of the phone can go a long way.
Show callers you value their time and business
As a customer you want to feel valued by the company you’re choosing to spend your money with.
The service you get is a big part of this.
If you contact a business and are made to feel like an inconvenience, or that your issues or concerns aren’t a priority, you’ll not likely spend your money with that company again.
This can be a problem with relying on electronic communication in customer service.
Forcing customers to email you with a promise you’ll respond within 48 hours, or making them go through a chat bot or 15 stages of pressing buttons on a call to speak to someone can easily make a customer feel unvalued.
They can be left with the feeling that you’re simply putting them on a list and will get to their issue (which is important to them) when you find it convenient.
On the other hand, having a real person spend time talking through an issue with a customer, who will listen to their problem or concern will make them feel like they’re being listened to.
Even if you can’t resolve the problem on that first call, the customer has at least had a chance to voice their issue with someone (rather than writing an email and hoping someone sees it soon).
Make you more professional
Professional customer service has always been important, but is even more so today.
With customers able to buy roughly the same products and services from so many providers, it’s turned customer service into a key differentiator in its own right (rather than just an added extra).
Today, the business providing the better service often wins – even when they’re the most expensive option. (Remember that one third of customers who’ll pay more to get a better service).
It’s not only the benefits you get from having professional call handling.
It’s the risks you run by not having it.
More than 90% of customers say they would stop buying from a business after three or fewer bad experiences.
More than a quarter would move on after a single negative experience.
So all it takes is one bad day on your behalf, or one moment on a call that doesn’t go to plan and you’re potentially looking at losing business.
With professional call answering you can be assured of a consistent, efficient and friendly service for customers and remove the risk of losing them as a result of having a bad experience on the phone.
Making call answering central to customer service success
Today’s customers don’t just expect great customer service.
They demand it.
And they’re more than willing to leave a company to go looking for the experience they want somewhere else.
Call answering is just one cog in the wheel of customer service.
But with so many customers putting value in being able to talk to a real person, your call answering is a major cog that can keep the rest of your service machine turning.
Failing to get it right on call answering can lead to bigger problems down the road that can have a negative effect on a business’ bottom line.