LONDON, Dec. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the boom in the use of social media to contact businesses, the good old phone still remains the most important communication method for customers to contact businesses in the UK, with 56% of businesses citing it is as their most important channel. This was followed by email 50%, online form 28%, live chat 24%, SMS text 23% and Whatsapp 21%, according to a new survey by Moneypenny, the leading outsourced communications company.
However customers are ditching letters and faxes as a way to contact businesses, as the survey showed that only 12% said their customers prefer using the fax and 16% said they their customers prefer letters.
The value of phone calls to businesses was clearly demonstrated as the survey also showed that 57% estimated that the average value of losing a call to a competitor, from a customer who was ready to buy, was more than £1,000. Of these, 18% estimated the average value was between £1,001 and £1,500, while 17% of businesses estimated the potential loss to be £1,501-£2000 and 11% believed it was even higher at between £2,001 and £3,000.
Commenting on the survey findings, Joanna Swash, Global CEO of Moneypenny, said: "We commissioned this survey as we wanted to understand the changing landscape of communications between businesses and their customers and to understand the value of these different communication channels. This survey has proved what we've always known: that the phone call is still king, despite the rise in popularity of our new channels such as Whatsapp, live chat and social media."
"And what's more, calls are becoming more valuable to business as many customers choose to do easy transactions over the website or use live chat for more casual enquiries. When they're ready to buy they are more likely to pick up the phone to get an answer straight away or schedule an appointment. We found that for a third of the businesses surveyed over half their calls were new business enquiries."
Top eight reasons for consumers to call a business
The survey asked businesses to list all the reasons that consumers call them and those most frequently listed were:
- To schedule an appointment (37%)
- To obtain info (34%)
- To get a quick answer to a query (32%)
- To book a service or buy a product (31%)
- To get more details than a website could provide (29%)
- To complain (27%)
- To pay for a high value item (26%)
- To chase an order (23%)
Joanna Swash continued: "Phone calls are especially important for businesses that have complex products that need more explanation than a website can provide, sell very high value products and services which have longer consideration cycles, or respond to urgent and one off requests such as law firms or plumbers."
Calls mean business
The survey also showed that calls are delivering new business, as the majority of companies (35%) said that over half of the calls they receive in a month are new sales or enquiries.
Businesses surveyed reported an upward trend in calls that were new sales or enquiries, as 77% of businesses said they think calls for new sales or enquiries have increased compared with five years ago.
Travel and transport companies reported the strongest increase in new sales calls over the last five years: 40% said these calls had increased, followed by 31% of marketing companies and 29% of IT and Telecoms companies who reported a great increase.
Larger companies get the most complaints calls
Customer calls are not always positive though, as 34% of companies with turnover between £50-99.9 million reported complaints as one of the most common reasons for consumer calls, compared with only 6% of companies with a turnover under £100k.
Marketing, automotive and estate agent sectors top complaint calls
The survey revealed variations in reasons for consumer calls to companies in different industry sectors. Marketing companies were those who most commonly reported consumer complaint calls (36%), followed by automotive companies (35%) and estate agents (32%).
Estate agents seem to be most prolific users of Whatsapp, with 31% saying that Whatsapp is the most popular communication method with their customers, which was closely followed by travel and transport companies (27%) and automotive companies (25%). In contrast, only 6% of AEC companies said their customers prefer using Whatsapp to contact them.
Financial Services companies are more likely than companies in any other sector to report their customers prefer live chat: 29% report it as most popular communication method for their customers, compared with just 12% of tradespeople such as plumbers, gardeners and electricians reporting live chat as most popular.
Staff reluctant to talk to customers on the phone
With recent Ofcom figures* showing a general decline in mobile and land line calls, the Moneypenny survey showed that business calls have actually increased over the last 5 years for 84% of the businesses surveyed but 14% of these companies said their staff are reluctant to answer customer calls as it distracts them from their work and 13.5% said their staff don't mind calls, but prefer emails or live chat.
Note to Editors:
Moneypenny is the world's leading outsourced communications provider, delivering telephone answering, live chat, switchboard and multichannel customer services. Moneypenny works with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from sole traders right up to multinational corporations. In the UK, Moneypenny has over 750 staff, a figure that is growing at a rapid rate and has offices in Charleston, USA. The company was founded by a brother and sister team in 2000 and currently handles over 15 million customer communications a year for 13,000 businesses. Moneypenny is proud to have won the Queen's Award for Enterprise and has been recognised six times in The Sunday Times '100 Best Companies to Work For.'
Survey commissioned by Moneypenny and conducted by Censuswide Consultants among 2,000 UK and US businesses, between 15 and 25 November 2019.
*Ofcom survey; www.ofcom.org.uk.