In 2016 there are so many different ways to contact someone that it’s easy to forget how important phone calls used to be. Now all you have to do is to grab your smartphone and open up an app: Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Facebook, Email, FaceTime, Snapchat. The list is almost endless. So picking up the phone and actually speaking to someone is no longer as obvious as it once was. However, while many customers and consumers like to contact the brands they are working with over social media, by email, or via live chat, nothing beats speaking to another human being over the phone when you have a problem.
Here are five reasons we think it’s good to talk.
1. People who call have an urgent problem
More often than not, people who call in to a business have a problem, or question they want answered quickly. Whether it’s a new customer asking about a product, or an existing customer calling about a billing issue, they are calling to get it resolved fast.
Talking directly with customers over the phone not only helps solve their problems more rapidly, but also helps you identify issues that may affect other customers as well. For example, if your website has problems or you have broken links that cause a customer to call in and place their order, this could alert you to a problem that you can address more quickly. Not only have you saved one sale, but potentially thousands more because you were alerted to the problem earlier.
2. Complex problems are easier to solve over the phone
If your customer has a complex problem, or one of a personal or sensitive nature, speaking over the phone is often the best option. Also, when dealing with issues like scheduling appointments or deliveries, speaking to a person while they have their schedule next to them can save hours of email tennis and frustration. A single five minute phone call could sort out a problem that might take five or more emails and hours or days to resolve otherwise.
3. Having a phone number is good for your brand
One of the things a customer looks for when they’re looking at a new company to work with or buy from is a phone number. A Google survey recently showed that 47% of people searching on mobile will look for another company if they don’t see a phone number in a company’s ad. Just like having a professionally designed website, or an office in a good location, a phone number indicates legitimacy. It says ‘I can reach them directly and talk to a real person if I ever have a problem. Having a company phone number also gives customers a sense of where you’re located (i.e. area code), and reinforces your offline presence – i.e. that you are a real business.
4. Not everyone is on the internet
While it might seem like the world revolves around social media platforms and ecommerce websites, it’s worth remembering that not everyone is online all the time. If you’re ignoring offline communication, you risk ignoring possibly as much as a third of the U.S. population.
In 2013 a survey found that 33% of people in the U.S. used the internet less than once a month. These people still make purchases, and by moving everything online, you risk totally missing these potential customers who may prefer to pick up the phone over sending a Facebook message.
5. Your competition might not be picking up
Having a human voice on the end of the line is another reason the phone is important to your business, because your competition might not. By being available by phone, you can gain a competitive edge over your competition quickly, and at a relatively low cost.
With a “live person” answering a customer's question quickly over the phone, you establish a positive image of your company in that person’s mind. By speaking to them you are interacting on a personal level that no other communication can reach (other than face to face), and when your customers think of your company, they will remember your voice on the phone, not a bland email exchange with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bottom line: your phone is still relevant and important to running a successful business. While its importance may have diminished over the last decade, the phone still remains a way of solving problems with an immediacy that other mediums often cannot compete with.