“If a tree falls in the woods, did it make a sound?” My answer to that has always been “yes”. Or at least “yes, it made sound waves, and if you want to define sound as requiring a human ear, then you are just playing semantics”. How about this philosophical question: If your business missed a call from a prospect, and you didn’t know you missed it, did you miss a revenue opportunity?

Astonishingly, many direct response advertisers, especially small to mid-sized businesses, spend serious money on broadcast advertising to make the phone ring, but kinda forget to answer the phone. As obvious as it sounds, advertising managers and business owners need to remember that simply running advertisements is not what results in new business! The entire chain of communication must be thought through, from creating interest and urgency in the spots, to providing an easy method of prospects responding, to training those who will answer the phone, to follow-up steps to close the sale.

Let’s consider a radio advertisement during morning drive time. If the product or service is actually compelling, the spot could drive multiple simultaneous calls to the business. (BTW, we observe that 90% of calls that an ad generates occur within three minutes of playing on-air – so this overlap does occur.) But oftentimes the business only has a single inbound phone line at which to accept the calls. What happens to Callers 2 through 5? Worst case, they get busy signals. And this pretty much means lost business, because there is severe attrition of interest and motivation as the minutes and hours pass from the time of advertising exposure (remember what the Road To Hell is paved with?). These prospects are not too likely to call back.

Solutions? Check with your office phone system provider and/or local telephone provider and set up an additional inbound line or two (assuming they can be staffed). Or set up “call rollover” from the primary inbound line to back-up employees who are also trained to take the calls. The least-best solution, but one that’s better than nothing, is to set up rollover to voicemail, where the caller is prompted to leave their name and phone number for a callback.  Again, given the half-life of interest mentioned above, this option is less good than answering live. In other words, it’s best to “get ‘em while they’re hot”.

Remember, if you have not considered the full call path, you may be completely unaware how much business you are losing due to the bottleneck of your inbound phone line. The #250 platform gives you visibility to all callers who attempted to reach you, since their call attempts are registered in the online call logs when they say and confirm your Spoken Keyword. You can both listen to the recorded calls and look at total call duration to determine whether they connected to your phone reps or front desk. If not, their Caller ID is captured so you can execute an immediate callback to save the prospect.

Another area that needs attention is training of phone reps. For starters, they should announce the business name when answering the call. Sorry for the Kindergarten lesson, but we have observed many client front desk staff answering with just “hello”, or some other ambiguous moniker that has nothing to do with the brand name cited in the radio ad. Beyond that basic step, they should be courteous, knowledgeable, and capable of helping the caller. We have also observed grumpy and dismissive telephone receptionists who are basically turning away business. This is another value of the #250 platform’s option to record calls (those that are not HIPPA/medical related) – it can be used as a quality assurance mechanism for the customer experience.

You might be saying to yourself “well, there is no waiting at our website”. That’s true – however it is well known that calls convert at a much higher rate than clicks. And if your product category is what’s called a “considered purchase” – one that involves research and lots of questions, it is best to engage your prospects in a live conversation, where rapport and trust can be established. Additionally, most consumers begin their research at Google and that will certainly expose them to your competitors, reducing your chance of landing them.

So stop leaving money on the table! Think through your inbound call process, ensure every single call is answered by a helpful staff person, and increase your revenue!

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