Almost Half of SMEs Leave Calls Unanswered

Have you missed a telephone call today? Was it a spam or nuissance call?
Or could it have been a business enquiry that you just couldn't reach in time?

Missing calls is easily done. In fact, worrying stats prove that this problem is much bigger than we thought.

According to a survey from TelePA, 47% of small and medium-sized companies in the UK are missing business calls, which could contribute to a significant amount of lost business. In addition to half of UK small businesses failing to answer the phone, the study also found that over a third failed to sufficiently engage with the caller, leading to a poor customer service experience.

The research was carried out from a sample of 142 small enterprises located across the UK, with a single phone call placed to each respondent. Data was collected based on whether or not the call was answered, how the caller was greeted, and how well the recipient handled the enquiry.

The key findings are:

  • 47% of 142 businesses left calls unanswered
  • 37% of the 75 businesses that answered did not take sufficient time to engage with the caller
  • Of the 67 calls missed, nearly half the answerphones didn’t confirm the company
  • Over half of businesses that missed calls failed to provide a call deferral or message-taking system
  • Businesses using a reception service performed 38% better

With regard to basic customer service, the study found that only 29% of recipients confirmed the name of the call receiver.

It was also noted that 64% of businesses didn’t offer a greeting and only 9% offered to help the caller.

How to Avoid Missed Calls

For small businesses with limited resources, it may not be possible to catch every incoming call.

Firstly, it is essential to have an answerphone or automated message-taking facility in place. It should confirm the company name, offer a solution such as a menu to reach a specific department, and ideally an indication of when the call will be returned.

However, answerphones should only be used as a last resort.

The best solution is to set up a live call answering service that covers business hours throughout the working week. Any business can outsource incoming calls to a virtual receptionist, which is a fraction of the cost of hiring your own full-time secretary.

Most serviced offices and business centres have their own receptionists in place - including all UBC centres - who answer calls in your company name. UBC's receptionists are professionally trained and experienced and there is always a team of people available, which ensures no call is left unanswered.

If you're not residing in a business centre and your office has no central call-answering facility - for instance, if you work from home - you can still outsource incoming calls via a virtual office. This involves setting up a phone system for your business, which includes a local area number, and having a receptionist answer calls in your company name.

Even if you have a full-time receptionist, you can still use a virtual office receptionist service as a back-up solution - for instance, during staff leave or sickness.

This research shows that businesses with a reception facility don't just catch the vast majority of calls; it also ensures calls are handled correctly and professionally. When dealing directly with customers, this is an important part of doing business (and one that should not be left to an answerphone). Greeting callers in a friendly, efficient and helpful manner creates a positive image and can lead to important new business opportunities.

If you're worried about lost calls and missed opportunities, speak to the team at UBC to learn more about our fully staffed business centres and professional receptionist services.