There’s a popular notion among consumers that social media is now the best way to contact businesses, but is this true? According to a recent survey by Moneypenny – it isn’t. In fact, phone calls are still the most popular way for customers to contact businesses in the UK, with 56% of businesses saying it’s their most important channel of communication.
But what are the other popular forms of customer-business communication for businesses?
- email 50%,
- online form 28%,
- live chat 24%,
- SMS text 23%
- Whatsapp 21%
So what are now the least popular methods for consumers to contact businesses?
The survey shows that customers are no longer interested in using letters and faxes as a way to contact businesses, where only 12% of businesses involved in the survey said their customers prefer using the fax and 16% said they their customers prefer letters.
The survey results have confirmed the importance of phone calls as the medium of communication between customers and businesses, with 57% saying the average value of losing a call to a competitor, from a customer who was ready to buy, was more than £1,000. Of this 57%, 18% estimated the average value was between £1,001 and £1,500, while 17% of businesses estimated the potential loss to be £1,501-£2000 and 11% believed it was even higher at between £2,001 and £3,000.
Commenting on the survey findings, Joanna Swash, Global CEO of Moneypenny said: “We commissioned this survey as we wanted to understand the changing landscape of communications between businesses and their customers and to understand the value of these different communication channels. This survey has proved what we’ve always known: that the phone call is still king, despite the rise in popularity of our new channels such as Whatsapp, live chat and social media.
“And what’s more, calls are becoming more valuable to business as many customers choose to do easy transactions over the website or use live chat for more casual enquiries. When they’re ready to buy they are more likely to pick up the phone to get an answer straight away or schedule an appointment. We found that for a third of the businesses surveyed over half their calls were new business enquiries.”
Below are the top eight reasons for consumers to call a business, (taken from the survey according to customers contacting a business):
1. To schedule an appointment (37%)
2. To obtain info (34%)
3. To get a quick answer to a query (32%)
4. To book a service or buy a product (31%)
5. To get more details than a website could provide (29%)
6. To complain (27%)
7. To pay for a high-value item (26%)
8. To chase an order (23%)
Joanna Swash continued “Phone calls are especially important for businesses that have complex products that need more explanation than a website can provide; sell very high-value products and services which have longer consideration cycles or respond to urgent and one-off requests such as law firms or plumbers.”
What calls ‘mean’ for businesses
The survey showed that calls are delivering new business, as 35% of businesses said that over half of the calls they receive in a month are new sales or enquiries. Businesses surveyed also reported an upward trend in calls that were new sales or enquiries, as 77% of businesses said they think calls for new sales or enquiries have increased compared with five years ago.
What sectors are getting the most business calls?
Travel and transport companies reported the strongest increase in new sales calls over the last five years: 40% of these said sales calls had increased, followed by 31% of marketing companies and 29% of IT and Telecoms companies who reported a great increase.
What sectors are using the most modern methods of communication?
Estate agents seem to be biggest users of Whatsapp, with 31% saying that Whatsapp is the most popular communication method with their customers, which was closely followed by travel and transport companies (27%) and automotive companies (25%).
Financial Services companies involved in the survey reported their customers prefer live chat: 29% report it as their most popular communication method for customers, compared with just 12% of tradespeople such as plumbers, gardeners and electricians reporting live chat as most popular.
Phone calls: A customer/staff disconnect?
With recent Ofcom figures* showing a general decline in mobile and landline calls, the Moneypenny survey showed that business calls have actually increased over the last 5 years for 84% of the businesses surveyed.
However, 14% of these companies said their staff are reluctant to answer customer calls as it distracts them from their work and 13.5% said their staff don’t mind calls, but prefer emails or live chat.
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