Sometimes the first experience a customer will have with your brand is a phone call – it’s common knowledge that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Once you get that customer, though, you need to make sure you’re continually strengthening the positive first impression they got.
An interesting study was conducted by Ifbyphone, a marketing automation company. Participants were surveyed based on their most recent experience with calling companies, both as a customer and potential customer. The findings show some interesting trends:
* Sales calls were typically responded to more quickly than existing customer calls (half of sales calls were answered in 60 seconds or less, while the vast majority of calls from existing customers (78%) did not talk with a live person for more than a minute.
What is your message? If your company tends to fall into this category, consider the message you are sending. Without realizing it, you may be telling customers that new and/or potential customers are more important.
* Four of five respondents say they wanted to abandon a call due to poor response time. While this wasn’t possible for all respondents, as they likely needed information at that moment, you can bet it left a bad taste in their mouth.
What is your message? Slow response times or “phone tree hell” are the quickest way to lose a customer. Sure, there are many customers who cannot up and leave because they are in a contract with you. However, if customers see a pattern of poor response times, you can bet they will not do business with you as soon as they can get out of the contract period. And, in the meantime, they will likely be spreading negative word of mouth, potentially harming new sales.
Other statistics from this study back it up:
- 58% of respondents are more likely to make a purchase from a company with response rates under a minute
- 69% of existing customers are more likely to refer a brand to others when response time is less than a minute
- 73% of respondents are more likely to recommend a brand to others when they experience quick response rates
There are some ways to combat a potentially negative message being sent to customers and potential customers though.
- Make sure your entire team is on the same page. Monitor calls to ensure that all customers, existing and potential, are receiving the same treatment. This not only goes for response time, but it’s also important to review the paths to reach a live person. Phone tree hell can turn someone off very quickly. Make some calls yourself to your company to see what a customer experiences; if you’re a larger company, consider incorporating telephone evaluations into your mystery shopping program.
- Streamline call paths: everyone is trying to do more with less – less staff, less of a budget, less time. Periodic review of existing procedures with regard to phone cal dispatch can help determine if you can make the path between the initial call and speaking to a live agent quicker. It can go a long way in new sales and customer satisfaction.
- Make self-serve information simple and readily available: there are many reasons customers call where the information can be automated to give them quick answers to common needs. If you don’t have this in place, you may want to consider it. If you do have it in place, make sure the process is as simple as possible. For example, my pet peeve is automated systems that require a verbal response instead of pressing 1 for hours, 2 for directions, etc. For whatever reason, despite my best efforts, my responses are not always picked up accurately and I’ve gotten frustrated trying to get the information I need. This is another area where I encourage higher ups within the company to place a few calls as a customer would to experience what they do, or incorporate this into your mystery shopping program.