Why the phone is still king for business

phone, call forwarding, voice communication
Close up face of mature businessman working on computer and talking on phone. Mature african man talking on mobile phone at desk in office. Smiling manager working at desk with copy space.

Whilst you’re more likely to communicate via instant messaging and text in your personal life, research reveals when it comes to doing business, most customers prefer to make a phone call.

Research by Money Penny found businesses receive 34 per cent more calls now than they did five years ago and on average, 45 per cent of all inbound calls generate a new enquiry. Research conducted in 2019 by Bright Local found many customers are using online and social channels for research but are shifting offline when they are ready to buy.

After doing research online, 60 per cent of small business customers said they prefer to pick up the phone, while only 16 per cent opted for writing an email. Interestingly, this trend towards the phone has increased in recent years. In 2016, the same study found 41 per cent preferred calls, 20 per cent emails, and 19 per cent chose to visit the business in person.

Why the growth in telephone calls?

There are many different reasons why we pick up the phone, but it tends to be used for more personalised communication, to build relationships and manage challenging situations – meaning some phone-based and in-person jobs will be hard for technology to totally replace.

Urgency is a big factor – customers want an immediate answer to their question or issue and picking up the phone promises instant gratification for time-poor customers. According to a study, most respondents would call instead of reaching out online because they’re looking to get a quick answer (70 per cent), prefer to call to resolve an issue (58 per cent) or consider it the best way to resolve a problem (45 per cent).

Instil confiedence in your customers

Reassurance is another factor. In an online world, customers find peace of mind in human interactions: there’s a level of security you only get from speaking with a real person.

When making a significant investment or purchase decision, most consumers want to talk to a qualified human expert. Google research found that consumers are more likely to call a business when making a high-value purchase in verticals such as auto, finance, or travel.

Customers want business to lift its game on the phone

The inbound call is a business’ most valuable commodity. If a consumer opts to call a business, it’s pretty likely they’ve already researched online, assessed product suitability, price, and performance and are now ready to buy. Google found 61 per cent of people called a business when they’re in the purchase phase of the buying cycle.

When customers call, they are looking for a positive experience. Customer loyalty no longer depends on the quality of the offered products or services, but rather on the accuracy and ease of the customer experience. Customers now hold brands to new standards, and they expect companies to use technology that provides more proactive, intelligent exchanges, demonstrating that they understand them – the phone conversation is a perfect opportunity to do this.

Make yourself visible

With many consumers now looking beyond websites and preferring a phone call to do a deal, it’s critical that businesses boldly promote their phone number contact details and make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for customers to call.

Business calls are more valuable than ever. An unanswered phone call is akin to tearing up money. Businesses that prioritise email or web self-service as their main channel for customer communication aren’t just ignoring the customer’s preference for human contact, but they’re likely losing out on sales.

Charles Heunemann, Managing Director and VP Asia Pacific, Natterbox