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Report: Simple changes in call handling can drive $100 million more in phone sales
Even just being friendlier in answering a call can generate materially more conversions, says Marchex analysis.
As the shift to mobile has happened, Google has placed more emphasis on calls, and mobile marketing is driving many millions of calls annually. Yet just as a bad landing page experience can blow a potential conversion, a bad call experience can similarly undermine a good campaign or a warm lead.
According to estimates from Marchex, roughly $1 trillion in revenue is generated through “click to call” commerce annually in the US. Much is at stake, therefore, in how calls are handled and how phone-based sales and service reps are trained.
Call centers often employ practices focused on cost savings or greater efficiency for the enterprise. Rarely are call centers focused on delivering the best customer experience. In many cases, call handling practices are designed to discourage actual human contact (“Due to unusually high call volumes, wait times may be longer than normal, visit our website”).
How long will people hold before hanging up?
Source: Marchex (2016)
A new study from Marchex, based on an analysis of millions of call-center interactions across several industries (auto, telecommunications, travel, insurance and cable), finds that some very simple improvements could potentially yield $100 million or more in additional sales annually.
The Marchex analysis found that 62 percent of callers will abandon a call in under a minute if tied up in an IVR system. Longer hold times equally turn into abandoned calls. In the cable TV industry, the study discovered that faster call response times could drive millions more in phone-based transactions: “Transforming just 10 percent of abandoned calls into conversions means up to $15 million in revenue per year.”
Perhaps a less intuitive but more striking finding of the study is that a “warm greeting” can dramatically improve phone conversions. A simple human greeting (versus alternatives) resulted in many more actual conversions and sales over the phone.
A greeting such as “Hello, how are you today?” dramatically outperformed more lengthy or robotic greetings one often hears in these contexts: “Hello, thank you for calling I Love Cell Phones where the Cell Phones love you back. What’s your ZIP code?”
Callers making purchases over the phone are more likely to have been “greeted warmly”
Source: Marchex (2016)
The analysis asserts that just by improving the way agents answer phones, companies could generate millions more in annual sales: “If a large call center increases the frequency of beginning with a warm greeting even slightly, that means another $20 million in incremental annualized revenue.”
These practices and recommendations seem like common sense, yet they’re not widely used. If one thinks about the call-center interaction as the phone equivalent of a landing page or an e-commerce experience, it’s easy to understand how a better user experience could translate into more conversions.
As search and commerce continue to migrate to mobile devices, companies that sell or close over the phone should carefully review their procedures for call handling. The Marchex data strongly argue that even minor changes, such as friendlier agents and shorter hold times, could translate directly into millions more in revenue.