As consumers we’ve never had it better.
Everything the world of retail has to offer is a credit card and a few swipes away—from groceries and appliances to cook them with, to the kitchen sink to wash the dishes in.
With customer / brand interactions switching from analogue to digital over the past couple of decades, retail seems to have taken its eye off the ball when it comes to traditional telephone enquiries — and the missed calls are mounting up.
Customer perception starts with first contact.
Put yourself in the customer perspective. You call a store ahead of your visit to find out if they’re stocking the item you’re looking for. You’re understaffed, or at full capacity with teams seeing to other matters and in-store customers—you drop the call. What goes through the customer’s mind?
Let’s skip the bullet points spelling out the bad news—since we all know the answer to be somewhere in the ballpark of “not good things”. At this point, the harm is done as the potential silently slips away, uncaptured and unquantified—you’ve likely lost that customer for good.
Research by British Telecom says “customers will only try to call a company twice without getting through before taking their business elsewhere.” Sounds about right to me—and personally, I might not even give it a second shot.
So how much do missed calls cost in lost revenue?
The reality is that the cost of missed calls in retail and business in general is a ‘known unknown’ that’s desperately understudied—which should in itself be something of a concern as it hints at a problem that we don’t yet fully appreciate the scale of.
This is partly because they’re ‘missed’ calls, so businesses have no way of knowing exactly how much a given incoming call was worth, unless routine callbacks are made successfully, quantified and recorded.
The British Telecoms findings—that focus on UK small-to-medium sized businesses—states that…
“One fifth of customers will only call once.” (Before finding alternatives)
“The cost of missing just one customer call (UK) is around £1,200.”
Losses may be as high as, “on average over £9,000” when incoming calls are missed over a 24 hour period.
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These figures are of course relating to specific circumstances within a specific part of the UK SME market, but these and other examples from other industries build a picture of opportunity-cost that will be extremely damaging if ignored.
Even in our own dealings with our own clients, we’ve started scratching the surface of the scale of the problem.
A global restaurant partner approached us about a known missed-call issue that needed ironing out. We estimated that just a single missed call per-day of a booking worth £70 would be worth something in the region of £25,000 over 12 months. And that’s in just one restaurant.
These are the kinds of figures we’re dealing with and that figure is likely much higher in other corners.
Yet retail staggers on through hard times with an undetected and growing missed-call crisis simmering beneath the surface—that’s the kind of self-inflicted harm global retail could really do without.
Calling in backup…
The missed-call problem in retail is likely bigger than we realise. Those at the sharp end of it need to start getting their houses in order by first assessing the scale and cause of missed calls in individual stores, and across stores in order to decide on a fix.
The global restaurant operator that approached us found their solution in equipping teams with VoCoVo’s telephony-enabled headsets that allow colleagues to detect incoming calls in their ear (over the noise of the restaurant and background music), and then to answer and even transfer calls between headsets.
By mobilising incoming calls into headsets, restaurant colleagues are able to hear calls instantly and capture the booking opportunity without risk of missing the call with having to transition across the floor space first. And all while staying hands free to maintain workflow continuity without shifting their attention from paying diners.