Why Your Business Still Needs To Be Available On Phone In This Digital-First World There are just times when those customers or leads really need or want to speak with you or someone in your company.

By Dorothy Mitchell

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People use their phones for texting, for accessing their emails and social media pages. And they use them to search for information, products and services. Here's a shocker: they also still use them to make actual phone calls. And sometimes, they even call friends, family members, and, yes, businesses that their search results have brought up. Mobile users do want the convenience of calling, as opposed to typing in messages or filling out forms on their devices. Here are some results of studies/surveys on just this topic, published by Search Engine Watch:

  1. In 2013, Google conducted a study with results that 70% of mobile users call a business directly from a Google search, if that business has a click-to-call button.
  2. A later survey and prediction by Marchex stated that, by the end of 2015, as many as one billion phone calls a month would be made to businesses, for a variety of purposes.
  3. Even more recently, another study estimates that, by 2019, there will be as many as 162 billion monthly calls to businesses from smart phones.
  4. The same article also reported that 74% of consumers would "drop" a business and go elsewhere, after a poor phone experience.

It's pretty clear that you do not want to ditch that phone for all digital communication from and to customers and potential customers.

What sectors are most likely to get phone calls?

There are some common phone calls that come from mobile searches or saved numbers- ordering takeout, making dinner reservations, etc. But beyond that, there are certain sectors that tend to get more calls than others. These include the following:

  1. The Automotive Industry. This may be calls related to making repair appointments, responses to ads for new or used cars, and so forth.
  2. Cable/Telecom Industry. Consumers have problems with their cable or satellite services and/or their Wi-Fi or phones. There may be service interruptions or an issue with billing. It's important that they speak with a billing agent or a technician to get resolution
  3. Financial Services. Consumers looking for loans will perform searches. And when they find a lender that sounds promising, they want to talk to a live person to get their questions answered. They need a bit of "hand-holding" and reassurance when looking for a car title loan, for example, and this need is not satisfied through digital communication.
  4. Home Services. When there is a plumbing problem; when the roof has sprung a leak; when the furnace has broken down in the middle of winter; when a storm has downed a tree, consumers want to make that call and get a live person on the other line, in order to make arrangements for the work.
  5. Travel. There is much talk about the use of online companies to make travel arrangements – and some of these companies are comprehensive. Consumers can make flight and hotel reservations, book rental cars, buy tickets for events, and even arrange for tours, all in one place. But what if something goes awry? That customer wants to talk to a person to get any issue resolved quickly, and companies that are not readily available by phone will lose that customer forever.

Solutions for availability by phone

There are several things you should do to be available by telephone.

First of all, be certain to have that click-to-call button on your site. When a search brings you up, all that mobile phone user has to do is tap that button and connect to you. For instance, GradeMiners have a conspicuous click-to-call button on their homepage and all other pages on their website and they reported getting 23% of all their incoming customer inquiries from that channel. If they didn't have it in place, they'd be leaving a lot of money on the table without even realizing it.

Also, ditch the answering machine for customers to leave messages, unless you know you are able to check that machine every 30 minutes and return calls. Far better to have those calls forwarded to a real person, even if that is only you. Consumers still want to talk with a live person sometimes – otherwise, they wouldn't be calling.

Next, contract with a phone number provider with features that meet your specific business needs. For instance, Evoice lets you customize the recorded menu callers hear and then swiftly route callers to the person or department they need to speak with. This helps you project the image of a large company no matter the size of your business. Again, if you are a company of one, and you are often out in the field, you can have the calls routed to your mobile phone, so you do not miss a customer or lead.

A lot can be accomplished digitally. You have a website, social media accounts, email marketing, and the ability for your customers to make purchases through your easy streamlined shopping cart and payment methods. And customers do appreciate being able to perform a lot of functions quickly.

But there are just times when those customers or leads really need or want to speak with you or someone in your company. It's an option that you must keep available for them to use.

Related: We Got Funded: Personal Concierge App Elves On How They Raised A US$2 Million Seed Round

Dorothy Mitchell

Freelance Business Writer and Social Media Marketing Consultant

Dorothy Mitchell is a freelance business writer and social media marketing consultant. She has worked as a writer, researcher, social media manager and business consultant with several companies, including Fortune 500 companies like LinkedIn, Microsoft, Cisco and PepsiCo, and startups that’ll soon become big players. She has also ghost written pieces that got published in Forbes, The Economist, Entrepreneur, Inc., Content Marketing Institute, and dozens more reputable publications. Connect with her on her website, DorothyMitchell.me or on Twitter, @DorothyExpert.

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