When marketers think about omni-channel and multi-channel marketing, it’s important to consider telephones as well as the Internet. While websites, review sites, social media sites and other types of online business sites get most of the attention, neglecting the telephone can undo well-executed online lead generation and e-commerce work.
When People Want to Use the Phone
Despite the unarguable popularity of online communication and research among B2B and B2C customers, the phone is often the preferred medium. Think about all the situations in which people intuitively jump on the phone:
- Urgency. Your sump pump just broke and 4 inches of rain are coming. You’re not going to wait for an HVAC company to respond to a form submission through its website.
- Uncertainty of response time. When you want an immediate answer (whether you need one or not), the phone wins. Especially if you’re dealing with a new company, you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting for a response to your email, form submission, social media comment, etc. If you use the phone, you know you may have to spend time on hold, but eventually you will be talking to someone.
- Safety. Mobile Internet usage continues to ratchet up, but when you’re in the car, it’s safer and often more convenient to place a phone call. If you’re trying to book a hotel room or restaurant reservation while you’re driving, a hands-free phone call gets the job done better and more safely than email, online chat, etc.
- Privacy. Protecting personal information is a huge issue for many consumers and business buyers, which makes them reluctant to share even the most basic information (email, phone number) digitally. While phone conversations may be equally vulnerable, the phone is perceived as being “safer.”
- Confidentiality. If you have a legal, medical or financial issue, you may not be comfortable putting it down on digital “paper” — especially if you don’t know the person on the receiving end. For delicate matters, you want to talk to someone.
- Complexity. In addition to legal, medical and financial issues, many other types of inquiries are too complicated to explain in an email: remodeling a kitchen, buying injection molding equipment, etc.
Lead Generation Hinges on Telephone Response
With these situations in mind, it becomes obvious how important it is for a business to excel in telephone response. We’ve all experienced poor telephone response. Think about how aggravating it is, and how it makes you want to go out of your way to buy elsewhere:
- Being on hold for 15, 20 or 30 minutes
- Being trapped in an interactive voice response system, where the options don’t fit your questions
- Being transferred from one individual to another, then having to restate your question or issue all over again
- Not being able to have your question answered or issue resolved, especially after having endured some or all of the above problems
How many leads are lost because a caller gives up?
How much damage is done to lead generation and the brand after a horrible phone experience is shared on social media or Yelp?
We’ve had experiences with clients where poorly trained customer service agents and/or poorly designed call waiting procedures fritter away phone leads coming in from SEO and PPC campaigns. It can easily happen without careful monitoring, solid training, and continuous improvement of phone systems and procedures.
Bottom line: Don’t disconnect yourself from telephone management, no matter what role you play in a company’s lead generation efforts.