In an era of chatbots, Mailchimp and SMS, the humble telephone is making a comeback as people cling to human interaction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Phone companies are reporting a surge in voice calls and an increase in the time people are spending on the phone.
What is significant for business is the importance of these phone calls has increased significantly.
Why phone calls are important for business:
- A need for human help – many customers now call a business when it’s important or when they can’t access help online or through an app. Nothing replaces an authentic human voice to resolve issues.
- Popularity of mobile phones – people are always on their phones, and the majority of the population have easy access to a mobile phone.
- Quick and effective – often in business communications it is quicker and easier to just pick up the phone and call. Scheduling Zoom videoconferencing meetings, Slack threads and email exchanges take time.
- Brand loyalty – quality phone conversations create a positive impact. Customers appreciate personal communication.
- Effective marketing tool – there is a reason why cold calling is still a staple in marketing plans. The effectiveness of emails is on the decline, with abysmal open rates.
The increased importance of phone calls is why businesses need to prioritise and invest in their telecommunications systems, with a focus on making things easier on the customer as well as the business.
A good telecommunications system offers intuitive technology to quickly direct calls to a person most likely to be able to help.
They offer entertaining and interactive on-hold features to engage with the caller.
Call recording features improve accountability, compliance and efficiency and are now accessible on mobile phones.
Despite this smarter technology, about 90 per cent of businesses still had outdated and antiquated phone systems.
They really are failing their customers who struggle to get through, experience long and boring on-hold wait times and often hang up in frustration.
In times of uncertainty, it is really important customers get to speak to a person and have their questions or requests heard.
The big utilities were the worst offenders, such as power and insurance companies. While smaller businesses like car dealerships embraced feature-driven telephony and customer experience.
The smaller competitive industries are keeping up with technology, saving money and keeping their customers happy.
Some organisations were responding to customer dissatisfaction, such as Telstra bringing their call centres back to Australia.
But the big corporations won’t be able to rely on monopolies or customer loyalty forever.
Increased competition and our tech-savvy younger generation will mean they’ll have to lift their game or lose customers.
In April, the New York Times reported that the volume of phone calls surged more than internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic because people wanted to hear each other’s voices.
“While the nation’s biggest telecommunications providers prepared for a huge shift towards more internet use from home, what they didn’t expect was an even greater surge in plain old voice calls,” the newspaper reported.
Mark Horwood, CEO, Captivate Connect