Have you noticed it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a phone number for many companies? Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to track down without a private investigator or some very polished research skills. But what happens if you can’t find a telephone number at all?It’s that dark moment when you realize that a phone number isn’t going to materialize, you’re sent into a spiral of post traumatic stress memories from your dating days (those were some black times). Thanks a lot for the reminder of what rejection feels like, corporation!
Even in the age of everything being digital and mobile, we still value human interaction. A whopping 57% of respondents to Parature’s 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey said they turn to the phone for a fast or immediate response to an issue.
If the issue is perceived as complex, customers prefer to speak with an actual person. In fact, 48% of consumers prefer speaking to a real person on the phone in regard to a difficult issue, according to the American Express 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer. The amount in which people prefer to speak with a live person regarding an escalated issue has increased by 2% since 2012 despite the fact that digital and mobile communication has grown.
If the phone is still seen as a beacon of light in a stormy harbor, then why are so many companies refusing to place their phone numbers on their web sites? Here are a few excuses we’ve heard for why a company might forgo distributing a phone number:
- Save money on phone expensesThe phone is the most expensive way to handle customers. While social media and email are exponentially cheaper, there is no replacement for human service. According to Help Scout, the most requested customer service improvement is for better human service. Not just everyone wants to put their issues with your company on social media. Allow them the opportunity to air grievances over the phone.
- Save money on staffTop notch customer service reps don’t come cheap. They should be well-trained and vetted to ensure they handle your customers’ issues appropriately. Most small businesses have small budgets, and it’s difficult for them to justify hiring a full time employee to answer their phones. Something to consider: outsourcing your phone calls to a live answering service. PATLive, for example, takes customer calls for businesses of all sizes 24/7. Keep your expertise in-house and outsource the rest. It will save you time and money in the long run.
- They want to use other channelsTech companies especially enjoy being seen as forward thinking. Some people think the telephone is an old technology and believe social media is such a sexier way to stay in touch. While social media can be a great customer service resource, most people still wish to reach a company over the phone. According to Econultancy, 61% of consumers prefer the phone for customer service assistance followed closely by email, live chat, an online knowledge base, and then click-to-call support.
Multi-channel customer service is becoming the standard, and the phone is still the top player of all the communication channels; it’s part of what makes multi-channel communication beneficial to small businesses. A basic principle of great customer service is to give the people what they want, and it’s clear that many customers still place a high value on the ability to reach an organization over the phone. If you leave the beloved phone out, you’re simply not giving your customers multi-channel service.
The phone isn’t the customer service nuisance it appears to be, but rather is an essential component in stellar customer service and a staple to any solid, multi-channel communication system. Whether you are a solopreneur or you manage a team, you may not have anyone devoted to your phones. The best option for handling that deluge of calls: outsourced phone services.
A phone answering provider can offer a range of services that fit your business’ needs and budget. PATLive offers around-the-clock live receptionist or call center services that are customized based on our individual customers’ needs. Outsourcing your phones can save you and your staff a ton of time and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your customers are being taken care of by call professionals.
Ensuring that your customers can reach you over the phone opens you up to a lot of possibilities: it adds that personal touch, and reminds your customer that you appreciate them. It makes your customer feel heard. These are all key ingredients for customer retention and growth.
It’s your turn! What are your thoughts on the role the phone plays in customer service?