24 May IS 24-HOUR TELEPHONE COVERAGE STILL NECESSARY?
Today’s businesses operate across more channels of communication than ever before, with information exchanged, deals brokered and transactions finalised – often without a single word spoken. With so many communication options open to us, it’s easy to wonder if so-called ‘voice calls’ still have an important role to play in the modern business realm.
But in this post, we intend to show you that the telephone is far from obsolete in the business world. If anything, it’s more important than ever.
It wasn’t so long ago that the telephone was the only way to have a live conversation with a person that you weren’t literally standing across from. But consider how many new channels have opened in recent history:
- Online chat and messaging
- Mobile messaging
- Video conferencing
- Mobile video calls
With such a diverse field of messaging services at our disposable, it’s no longer necessary to pick up the phone if you’d like to place an order, enquire about a service or check on the status of a delivery. Instead, all a customer needs to do is fill in a form or tick a box. The rest happens without their having to worry about.
But despite the extent to which commerce has been automated and communication modernised, we find that the telephone still has a very important role to play in most businesses’ operations. We’ll offer some insight into why this is the case in the following sections.
Smart Phones Are Actually Increasing Phone Usage
It’s a bit ironic that many of the same technologies threatening the future of phone communication are bundled right into a mobile telephone – a machine designed, above all, to facilitate voice calls. But the fact remains that the ubiquity of smart phones makes voice calling even more common in certain situations.
A decade or so before, a person might carry a pen and notebook with them to jot down any important information, and then bring that home or to the office where they could follow up with any essential phone calls. Now, armed with a smart phone throughout the day, people are much more likely to place spur-of-the-moment phone calls than they once were.
Let’s have a look at The Mobile Playbook, published by Google, for some evidence of this. In a section looking at local consumer habits (with ‘local’ simply meaning ‘within geographical reach of a given business’), the playbook states that just shy of half of all local searches resulted in a person calling a store – presumably based the information in their search results.
People are still placing voice calls, and click-to-call features on the Internet are making them even more likely to do so at the drop of the hat. That’s why it’s essential that your business have 24-hour telephone answering services to ensure that their call can be answered and actioned as hastily as it was placed.
The Quest for Instant Gratification Is Real
Today’s consumers are more impatient than ever, and it’s easy to see why. Practically everything we require access to is literally available at our fingertips. Whether something as simple as information or something as complex as furniture delivery, we can usually get the task complete within a few hours – if not a few minutes.
There are so many instant (or at least rapid) services available to the modern consumer. For example, Amazon Prime customers who find the online retailer’s two-day delivery service to be gruellingly slow can opt into express, same-day delivery if they choose. And now they’re even trialling delivery by drone in the UK, which will undoubtedly lead to even faster delivery times. Soon enough, orders placed will be on your doorstep in an hour or printed from your 3D printer in moments.
Business owners are wise to pay attention to these developments in consumer behaviour. As their customers become more accustomed to receiving the goods and services they desire the moment they desire them, they’re simultaneously becoming less tolerant of any service providers who expect them to wait.
In other words, a culture of instant gratification breeds impatience. Today’s callers are less inclined to sit and wait too long as the phone rings – let alone to leave a message and wait for you to call them back. If one of your representatives isn’t on hand to take a call the moment they place it, they’ll just hang up and call one of your competitors.
Unless your company is large, extremely well-staffed and in operation 24 hours a day, it’s unlikely you’ll have the resources necessary to answer every call. This makes professional telephone answering services more important than ever. In the age of instant gratification, it’s comforting to know that you can easily and affordably outsource the phone handling.
The Changing Role of Communication by Phone
Today it is relatively safe to assume that if a person has gone to the trouble of calling you on the phone, they probably really have something to talk about. In the past customers would use the telephone for tasks that have now been relegated to websites and email:
- Checking shop hours
- Confirming an appointment
- Asking for directions
- Finding out what’s on the menu
And those are just a few examples. The point is, it’s now possible to find a great deal of general information online. Nowadays, if a person calls in, they’ve probably exhausted the information available through those channels – or else they’re assuming that the information they need is only going to be available from a real person.
This is where the telephone excels at its task. It offers instant gratification when a potential customer needs to ask a specific question or place a complex order. Clients and customers are often primed to make a sale when they dial your number, but you have to have someone on call to facilitate that.
It may appear that the rise of so many new and advanced channels of communication are pushing old-fashioned telephone service out of the picture, but that’s not really the case. If anything, these new channels have helped the telephone refine its position and emphasise its importance. Voice calls still have a powerful role to play in the successful operation of your business.