Many consumers have a strong preference for talking to businesses.
Even in the 21st century, with so many different communication channels available, the majority of consumers still prefer to pick up the phone as their first point of contact with a business.
While having a website is almost obligatory these days, new research shows that almost 60 per cent of Australians still like their first contact with a business to be by phone. And eight in 10 will take their business elsewhere if they have a bad call experience.
What's more, the damage of a mishandled phone call has a ripple effect, with 83 per cent of dissatisfied customers telling friends and family to avoid the business.
The Australian Caller Index survey of more than 1000 people was conducted by ACA Research for virtual receptionist provider OfficeHQ.
A US survey released earlier this year by NewVoiceMedia reveals a similar scenario: 59 per cent of people there prefer to pick up the phone and 75 per cent think calling is most effective for a quick response.
Effective call handling is vital for a positive first impression, says OfficeHQ CEO David Atkinson.
"Consumers prefer to speak with a real person." – David Atkinson, OfficeHQ
"Despite the multiple alternatives available to contact businesses, consumers prefer to speak with a real person and they expect that person at the other end of the phone to be professional, courteous, knowledgeable and helpful," he told INTHEBLACK.
"This is particularly important for small businesses where the investment in customer acquisition and retention is high and the impact of lost opportunity on revenue will be significant."
The Index also showed offshore call centres are Australians' biggest gripe: almost half the survey respondents said they hang up in the person answering isn't in the country.
This article is from the October issue of INTHEBLACK.