When a customer hangs up on you mid-conversation, it’s easy to tell what you did wrong. In fact, they probably spent the previous five minutes telling you exactly what their issue was.
But when customers hang up on your phone system before you even get to speak with them, that’s another problem.
According to some statistics, about 80% of callers will hang up on a phone system if they don’t feel like their call is going straight to voicemail. That means that you’re already missing out on most important customer calls by not having a robust, organic phone system in place.
How can you turn it around? Make sure that when you set up your business’s phone system, you avoid these other key mistakes that make customers want to hang up:
Mistake #1: Putting Them in the Driver’s Seat
It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t any self-respecting customer want to be in the driver’s seat in an interaction with a company?
Yes and no. If you give your customer too much power—or give them too many choices—you run into the problem known as Paradox of Choice, first popularized by an author named Barry Schwartz.
In one study, shoppers were exposed to an astonishing variety of gourmet jam: 24 whole choices, with samples to boot. On another day, the available jams were limited to six.
Researchers found that while more choices attracted more initial attention, fewer choices meant that customers were ten times as likely to make a choice from the jams and bring it to purchase.
What does this have to do with your phone system? Simple: don’t give them too many choices. Give them options, sure—they need to navigate your business as well as possible. But keep the choices limited. Don’t let customers grow frustrated with your never-ending web of call forwarding.
We’ve all been in the situation of being the customer who loses all patience with a phone system and shouts into the phone, “just get me a human!” Don’t make your customers do that.
Mistake #2: Creating a Fancy, Elaborate Script
If a customer calls you on the phone, it’s important to give them a sense that you’re a real person—or at least a real company.
The problem is that some companies believe that to come across “real,” they need to simulate the feeling of authenticity by creating a script. Then they lose sight of why they created a script in the first place and simply want to create the most flowery, over-the-top script possible.
Avoid this instinct. When SoftwareAdvice.com ran a study, they found that customers had a strong negative impression of calls when they thought agents were reading from scripts. If a customer perceived a call as unscripted, their perception of the call improved 78% of the time.
If you’re building a voicemail system for directing phone calls, you will have to use automated messages to guide your customer. The way to avoid the negative-script effect is to keep things simple and professional. Get the essential information to the customer and let them move on.
Mistake #3: Weaving a Tangled Web of Call Forwarding
If you’ve ever been on a long phone call with a company, you know that it can feel like a temporary boost when you’re forwarded to the appropriate expert. That’s all well and good, but when your phone call gets passed on and on again, you start to feel like the entire effort is futile.
The same effect occurs when you create an overly complicated phone structure for answering customer phone calls. Yes, it’s important that you get the customer to the person who can solve their problem or answer their question. But if it takes too many steps to get there, customers won’t care about your good intentions. They’ll just care that they couldn’t get through.
Mistake #4: An Unprofessional Voicemail Greeting
If you have clients or customers call your personal number, it can be a bit disorienting to hear a casual and obviously personal voicemail greeting on the other end.
Even if you work out of a home office, it’s important that your phone system—or even something as simple as your voicemail greeting—displays that you have a professional business presence. Heed a few of the tips that we’ve provided in our post on voicemail greetings and make sure to:
- Limit background noise. Hearing family members in the background is an obvious no-no. But even hearing general office sounds can have a negative effect on the quality of your voicemail greeting.
- Smile as you record. You’d be surprised at the effect a smile can have on the tone of your voice. You want to be positive, upbeat, and professional—and sometimes, there’s no way to fake that except to smile.
Mistake #5: Too Little Information
If you’re convinced about the paradox of choice and you want to avoid an overly-elaborate script, it’s tempting to go too far in the other direction and record a Laconic voice greeting like “Hi. Leave a message at the tone.”
There’s nothing wrong with simple. But if you want your customers to stay engaged with your phone system, there’s no harm in infusing a little personality into their interactions with your automated responses. Just as long as these hints of your personality don’t get in the way of a customer perceiving you as a competent professional, they’ll likely stay on the line.
Give Your Customer a Reason to Stick Around
Just as you work hard to earn sales through marketing, analytics, and good, old-fashioned quality business practices, you don’t want the hard work to go to waste once a customer gets a hold of your phone number. Avoid these mistakes and create a simple, intuitive voicemail system that customers will understand and even enjoy. The better it is, the more likely it is you’ll retain those customers who would have otherwise given up. When it comes to your phone system and your customers, every second counts.