Category: Answering Service
Businesses tarnish the industry when they fail to return phone calls to customers in need
A study of service companies revealed that over one third of HVAC (heat, ventilation, and air conditioning) companies force customers and prospects to use automated phone systems and to leave a message. In addition almost two thirds of them wait more than twenty-four hours to return calls.
These two facts are shocking enough, but even more appalling is the reality that 43 percent don’t bother to ever call these folks back. And these aren’t routine calls but urgent messages from people ready to spend money.
The recommended goal for returning calls is advanced by industry expert Angela Garfinkel, president of Quality Contact Solutions: “One hour at the most; fifteen minutes would be preferable,” she states unequivocally.
Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, which commissioned the study, agrees with Garfinkel’s recommendation as an expectation that most people will tolerate, despite being in a culture that demands instant results. However, he also gives a bit more leeway to busy tradesmen but is quite adamant that “calling back within the same business day is absolutely essential” for those who can’t meet the professional expectation of fifteen to sixty minutes.
Berkson reviewed the survey results in disbelief. “It’s incomprehensible to me that nearly half of these businesses didn’t ever return the phone calls. How can you expect to stay in business when you don’t call people back, especially when those people are ready to pay you money for your services?” This widespread failure to return phone calls hurts the whole trades industry and likely contributes to the frustration many people encounter when trying to find a contractor to install new equipment or repair malfunctioning devices.
“A business that returned phone calls within fifteen minutes would standout and distinguish itself from their competition,” continued Berkson. “It’s a common sense courtesy and simply good business.”
When asked why the failure to return phone calls was so widespread, Berkson could only speculate. “Maybe they just don’t care. Or perhaps they got busy and forgot. I suppose some of them waited too long and were embarrassed to call back or assumed the caller had contacted someone else.”
Given that the messages were left in voicemail systems and on answering machines, it’s possible the person retrieving the message wrote the number wrong but deleted the message and couldn’t listen to it again. “That’s never a problem with an answering service,” Berkson smiled. “At LiveVoice we keep detailed records so a caller’s information can always be double-checked.”
The test calls were placed by trained agents from May 2 to May 10, 2016 to nearly nine hundred trade businesses, including 212 HVAC companies. Bill Haack coordinated the project and compiled the results.
Peter DeHaan, PhD, is a freelance writer, call center authority, and publisher of Connections Magazine, which covers the call center industry.