Is anyone there?

Failing to carry out one simple task is actually costing UK companies millions of pounds and enormous amounts of lost business every year?

It’s something as straightforward as answering the telephone. Yet in a recent survey carried out by Birmingham-based Time Etc, almost 60% of small businesses and sole traders didn’t answer their telephone.

Research carried out in the past has shown that seven out of ten callers don’t bother to leave a message or call back if they get an answerphone, voicemail or an engaged tone. What’s more, most new business is gained via the telephone and yet 20% of potential new business is lost because the call hasn’t been taken.

Clearly, the telephone is the lifeline for all small businesses and sole traders and it’s vital that they take as many calls as possible, both from existing clients and potential new customers. But how many realise this and actually answer the telephone? Time Etc decided to find out, to see if getting hold of a human is really as hard as it sometimes seems.

They called 200 small businesses and sole traders in the Birmingham area and uncovered the following startling statistics: 38% of the calls they made went to straight to voicemail. 14% of businesses they called were engaged on another call and 7% of their calls received no answer at all! In fact, of the 200 companies they called, only 82 answered.

Time Etc’s simple survey demonstrates how many small businesses and sole traders simply don’t answer the telephone. Moreover, when these companies were asked, many said that they see their business as too small or insignificant to spend money, time or resources on offering better service to their customers. The irony of course, is that not being prepared to do this is the very reason they remain small.

As the Managing Director of Time Etc, Barnaby Lashbrooke, points out, “Customers are used to getting everything faster these days, and are less tolerant of poor service, like telephone calls going to voicemail or not being answered at all. It’s so easy for people to move on to a competitor if they can’t reach you, so it’s vital to make the most of each and every time you’re contacted.”

Because answering the telephone and taking every call is so important, the answer for these companies according to Lashbrooke has to be a telephone answering service. This is one of the many business facilities provided by Time Etc.