Without a doubt, the current COVID-19 is taking a major toll on businesses around the country. As of May, over 100,000 small and medium sized businesses have permanently closed their doors due to the economic restraints. Tens of thousands of other businesses have temporarily closed or have been forced to lay off employees due to massive reductions in sales and revenues. One area of the economy that is booming, however, is e-commerce and online businesses.
According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, “U.S. retailers’ online year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth is up 68 percent as of mid-April, surpassing an earlier peak of 49 percent in early January.” Furthermore, e-commerce orders during the first months of the global pandemic grew 129 percent while all online retail orders are growing by 146 percent. These figures go to show that consumers are still willing and able to spend money, though the current public health situation is forcing them to change the way in which they make their purchases.
In order to reactivate businesses successfully as the economy slowly begins to open up, creating social distancing policies and protocols are going to be a real challenge for companies who take seriously the health and wellbeing of both their customers and their employees. Hiring an answering service is one simple way to maintain and improve your customer service, increase sales volume, capture clients who place a high level of importance on social distancing measures, while also ensuring the health of your own employees as well.
Advantage #1 of Hiring an Answering Service: Improving Customer Service Satisfaction
A 2019 customer service survey by BrightLocal found that over 60 percent of consumers vastly preferred to call small businesses on the phone. The report, titled “Local Business Websites and Google My Business Comparison Report” was attempting to discover the level of use and popularity of Google Business listings and business websites in attracting new customers. While the internet continues to change how consumers shop and find information about businesses and brands, the report confirmed that calling small businesses on the phone continues to be the most popular consumer option for finding out information about small businesses. Given the extent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s safe to say that an even higher percentage of consumers will much prefer contacting businesses over the phone rather than in person in the current climate.
Hiring an answering service, then, is one way to improve the quality of customer service, especially during the current reality when many potential customers will be rightfully wary about physically visiting a brick and mortar business.
Consider the following statistics:
- U.S. businesses and brands lose about $62 billion in annual sales and revenue due to poor customer service experiences.
- American consumers will share with an average of 15 people a poor customer service experience they had.
- After just one negative customer service experience, over half of all customers will never do business with that company again.
Now more than ever, quality phone-based customer service will be essential for luring consumers back to your brand or business. A quality answering service can ensure that your clients receive instant communication with a live customer service representative (instead of a robot answering service), thus helping to convert customer interest into real time sales.
Advantage #2 of Hiring an Answering Service: Increasing Overall Sales Volume
A report by Bain & Company titled “Prescription for Cutting Costs” finds that “increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent.” In an economy where consumers will be cautious about physically visiting brick and mortar businesses, a solid phone service is essential for attracting and retaining customers. Having a phone call go unanswered or being put on hold for a long period of time are two surefire strategies to lose a potential customer.
A 2018 Forrester Customer Service Report finds that two-thirds of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience. Hiring an answering service is one way to show returning customers that their time and business is valued.
Furthermore, many answering services can also provide more than simple customer service phone support. The best answering services will be able and willing to increase your sales by forming part of your in-bound sales team. They can help customers interact with online retail catalogs or even complete online orders via your e-commerce platforms. Lastly, hiring an answering service for both in-bound sales and customer service will free up time for business owners and other essential employees to dedicate time and energy to other essential business tasks that will help grow sales volume.
Advantage #3 of Hiring an Answering Service: Capturing Clients who Value Social Distancing
With more than a quarter million new coronavirus infections occurring on a daily basis, consumers are understandably concerned about how to safely do their shopping. According to one recent poll, over 52 percent of all consumers actively try to implement social distancing protocols to protect their health. Instead of casually stopping by a store to inquire about a product or service, then, many people will prefer to call the company over the phone. Implementing adequate social distancing policies for sales that require an “in-store” experience is certainly important. However, many customers will simply not be willing to risk their health for certain purchases.
Hiring a quality answering service will allow your business to capture the large segment of consumers who are going to strictly adhere to social distancing policies during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, answering services can also direct those potential customers to your online e-commerce platforms or even facilitate sales over the phone.
Advantage #4 of Hiring an Answering Service: Ensuring the Health of your Employees
Lastly, hiring an answering service can also be an important part of a holistic strategy to protect the health and wellbeing of your in-store employees. Statistics show that only about 30 percent of customers who physically enter a store will actually make a purchase. Many of those casual or spontaneous visits could be reduced if your business offered a helpful, thorough phone service. For customers who simply want to inquire about products are services offered by your company, an answering service might be able to simultaneously reduce overall physical visits to your business location while increasing the conversion rate of in-store sales. This obviously will lower the probability of COVID-19 transmission to your employees while not negatively affecting sales and revenue volume.
Hiring an answering service has always been a great strategy for businesses who value customer service and want to free up time for other business-related activities. With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, an answering service offers even further health and safety benefits for your business, your customers, and your employees. Contact Hartley & Associates today at 866-918-8700 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you.