Imagine your phone rings while you are sitting in an important meeting. Or maybe you’re out to lunch with a client. Perhaps you are on holiday with your family or busy supporting a customer when it rings. Either way, when you find yourself in a situation where you cannot answer the phone, the call will go to voicemail and potentially cost your business thousands of pounds. Tim Morris is a distinguished franchise professional, customer service expert and Managing Director of inbound comms specialist, Cymphony. He believes ensuring you never miss a call is vital to guarantee your franchise business performs at its best.
Unanswered calls are stressful for everyone involved. As a franchisee, you miss out on opportunities to win a new client and provide great customer service. At the other end of the line, callers are left feeling undervalued and disheartened. It is a lose-lose situation that leaves both parties frustrated. And unfortunately, it is an experience that happens every single day. However, there are steps franchisees can take to avoid missing these invaluable calls and convert potential customers into raving brand ambassadors for their business.
The financial implications for franchisees
Occasionally missing a call might not seem like a big deal, but do you know the financial impact it is having on your business? At Cymphony, we surveyed 10 of the industry’s top franchisors to get to the bottom of how much missing a call costs a franchisee.
According to our survey results, the cost of missing a call for franchisees ranges between £400 – £43,600, depending on the services you provide. One business brokerage franchisor said: “If we assume the missed call is an opportunity to sell a business, the minimum fee charged starts at £500. If the business goes on to be sold, the lowest commission earned will be £2,000, but with some earning 5% of the sale price, this can run into tens of thousands of pounds for big deals.” Another franchisor said: “The cost of a missed call for franchisees in our network is easily around £400 – £500 on the basis that you miss the opportunity to talk to the prospect and therefore you do not get the chance to convert them into a customer.”
Missing a call doesn’t always mean you miss out on a one-time payment either. You could also be missing out on repeat business, so if you operate in an industry where word of mouth and repeat business is key, you must field all incoming calls. Another franchisor said: “On average, our services will cost about £200 per annum. However, when you see that the average customer stays with us for over 10 years, missing that one call means a franchisee is potentially missing out on a new customer with a lifetime value (CLV) of over £2,000.” On the other end of the spectrum, franchisees that provide essential services could be losing out on huge sums of money when missing a call. “Because our franchisees provide an essential service, the calls that come through are always an emergency. The CLV for our franchisees is £43.6k, so if the call is a client enquiry, which is highly likely, missing it is expensive. Equally, in our business, if we miss a call people just call someone else – they don’t call back,” said one franchisor.
The (reputational) cost of missing a call
A franchise business will lose more than just money when it misses a call. When you share your phone number with customers and prospects, it is implied that they will be able to reach you at any time. So, when you miss their call, it reflects poorly on your business. Think about it: if you are missing calls, it might imply that you do not have enough people or resources to meet demand, which appears amateur at best. It could also imply that your businesses chooses not to prioritise phone-based customer service, leaving a large portion of your customer base feeling undervalued.
Finally, remember that if a customer gets no response at all, they will likely find an online forum like Google Reviews to criticise your company, which will discourage others from doing business with you in the future. This is not a situation any organisation wants to find itself in.
How to fix your missed call problems
Phone calls are opportunities for your business that you must take advantage of. The worst part about missed calls is that you might not even be aware you have an issue. Although you may take many calls and have a steady, healthy revenue each day, you may be missing further opportunities by leaving calls unanswered. To find a solution to this problem, it is worth understanding the common causes of your missed calls. There are many reasons franchisees miss calls. For example, if you are an owner-operator or just starting out, you may be unable to answer calls throughout the day when you or your employees are focussed on other customer service or operational tasks. Another reason could be that your clients want 24/7 communication, but you and your employees have a fixed set of hours and want to maintain a good work-life balance. Or perhaps, as previously mentioned, your business focuses solely on digital communications rather than phone calls.
One way to overcome these issues is by implementing organisational changes and the right tech to significantly reduce the instances of those missed opportunities. A voicemail assistant can improve your customer service by helping you stay on top of your voice messages and the many time-consuming tasks associated with running your business. The downside is some people will not bother leaving a voicemail. You could also try call forwarding. This will automatically send a phone call from an unanswered, idle desk phone to your mobile. However, this is not ideal if you want to switch off after work. Another solution could be to hire an inbound communication specialist who can handle calls 24/7. This way, you can leave client communications to experts with the time, resources and training to handle conversations and queries effortlessly. And the best part is you only pay for what you use.
The bottom line is, the cost of missing a call – be it financial or reputational – can be enormous. No matter which sector your franchise operates in. Ask yourself, can you afford either?