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Retailers risk losing business through poor call handling: new study

A new study has revealed that retailers are at risk of losing business by leaving customers hanging on the telephone for too long.


Retailers risk losing business through poor call handling: new study

A new study has revealed that retailers are at risk of losing business by leaving customers hanging on the telephone for too long.

The survey of 3,630 companies by PH Media Group found that the retailers left callers on hold for an average of 51.97 seconds compared to the UK average of 33.48 seconds.

PH Media Group said that previous research has shown that 90% of callers will hang up within 40 seconds if forced to listen to silence while on hold. 

“These results represent a significant challenge for retail firms and could pose a serious threat to profitability,” said PH Media group sales and marketing director Mark Williamson.

“Callers are simply unwilling to wait on the end of the line while subjected to silence, muzak or beeps so firms are putting themselves at serious risk of losing business.

“Good call handling is often overlooked as a key sales and marketing tool but the telephone still acts as an important touchpoint and first impressions count. If each caller enjoys a positive experience, customer service standards will go through the roof.”

Signmakers came out worst from the research, leaving their callers on the line for 72.64 seconds in an average call, while garden centres performed best, logging an average time of just 17.44 seconds.

Of all callers placed on hold, 34% were subjected to silence. A further 26% were made to listen to music, while 26% heard beeps.

As part of the study, PH Media Group also scored each company on their overall call handling practice. Elements assessed included the time taken to answer a call, the number of tiers a caller experiences before reaching the right department, use of consistent voice and music, professional and personalised voicemail and out-of-hours messaging were weighted to reflect their importance. Retailers averaged a score of just 45 out of 100. 

“Good customer service is paramount for retailers so it is important to evaluate all aspects of call handling to ensure all calls are dealt with in the right manner,” added Williamson.

 “Inevitably, not every call will be answered within a matter of seconds, so when callers do need to be placed on hold for any length of time, informative and entertaining audio messages can help to maintain their attention and decrease perceived waiting time. 

“Brand congruent voice and music are also vital in order to present customers with a consistent image of the company, reinforcing brand values and establishing a reassuring, coherent presence.”


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