Picking up the phone is a highly lucrative activity for local businesses. Nearly half of local mobile searches end in a phone call, meaning your phone line is teeming with potential customers.
But small business owners only get to 38% of calls, and most callers won’t wait more than a minute for someone to answer. What’s worse, 85% of callers who go to voicemail won’t call back, meaning you’ve likely lost a customer.
With potential revenue on the line, why do local businesses have such a hard time answering the phone?
Managing unexpected surges in incoming calls is a constant balancing act. Local businesses can’t afford to over-staff receptionists, so the customer experience suffers.
But there is a better way.
Call overflow solutions can support your phone staff and prepare you for unknown ebbs and flows in customer calls. It can help you delight current customers and convert new prospects, all while ensuring you never miss another call.
What Is Call Overflow?
Call overflow refers to any incoming calls that your staff can’t answer.
Sometimes, the causes of call overflow are more predictable. For example, a restaurant can staff up for major events like the Super Bowl.
But say a national soccer tournament rolls through town. The restaurant could be swarmed with phone orders and in-store customers with nowhere to turn.
Call overflow solutions can support expected and unexpected increases in call volume so you can capture more business through the phone.
How to Manage Call Overflow
Hiring full-time staff to manage excess calls doesn’t always make financial sense for a business.
In these cases, outsourcing phone support is a scalable and cost-effective option.
Here are 5 call overflow solutions to reduce your rate of missed calls:
1. Rely on a Call Center
Set up an overflow call center to handle call volume surges, take the pressure off your team and elevate your customer service.
Depending on your needs, call centers can answer incoming calls or make outbound ones.
You can build your own from scratch or seek out an established vendor to answer calls. Vendors can help you create a phone tree and set up call forwarding after a set number of rings or when the phone line is unavailable.
The cost of a call center will depend on a few key factors: how many representatives you need to keep up with demands and the hours you want to be available. Companies building their own call center also have to account for purchasing physical space and the cost of equipment for each employee.
Typically, larger organizations that receive hundreds of calls per day stand to benefit from a designated or outsourced call center. Some examples include tech companies, oil and gas companies, financial services companies, larger retailers and healthcare agencies.
2. Hire a Virtual Receptionist
Virtual receptionists take on some of the roles of a traditional receptionist. They answer incoming calls, take notes, escalate conversations and make appointments.
Some services also learn about your business to help assess the importance of a call.
Virtual receptionist services range in price, starting at $50 per month. Pricing is based on how many minutes you need covered each month, and the costs can add up quickly during peak times.
Medical offices, marketing agencies, real estate agencies and law firms tend to take advantage of virtual receptionists.
3. Use an Answering Service
For some companies, the majority of callers just need to be routed to another person or department. In these cases, answering services are a great solution.
Answering service agents essentially act as a switchboard to send calls to specific team members. They can answer simple, non-technical or industry-specific questions, such as, “Where is your business located?” or “What are your hours of operation?”
Answering service pricing is similar to virtual receptionist solutions. They typically cost a few dollars per minute or charge you a flat fee plus a per-call rate (e.g., $60 per month plus $2 per minute).
Local businesses such as hair salons, home repair professionals, logistics companies and reservation services are prime candidates for answering services.
4. Forward Your Calls
Some business owners need a way to stay available — even when they’re out of the office. Setting up call forwarding to a cell phone is a simple (and cheap) way to give every incoming call a chance.
You can typically enable call forwarding through your existing phone provider. You can also use a call forwarding program such as Google Voice or Grasshopper, which starts at $26 per month.
If you are a solopreneur, frequently step out of the office or employ a handful of people, call forwarding is a cost-effective way to answer more calls.
5. Use a Text Answering Service
Relying on humans to answer every call is expensive and unnecessary. Often, your phone staff is answering the same basic questions about your business, which can be automated.
Text answering services like Numa give callers the option to receive a text message when you’re too busy to grab the phone or after hours.
Once someone selects “yes,” Numa texts the customer and can answer common questions about your business and assist with taking orders, scheduling appointments, routing conversations and more.
Numa’s AI assistant learns about your business over time, but you have complete control over what it can and can’t answer on its own.
If you’re looking for scalable, 24/7 support and a flat, predictable fee, text answering services are the perfect solution.
Call Overflow Metrics
Outsourcing phone answering to a call center or answering service might save you from hiring another full-time employee.
But costs can quickly escalate if your solution goes unchecked. And you could wind up paying for a service that doesn’t serve your caller’s needs.
For example, if you chose a basic answering service, but agents can’t handle most caller requests, you might need a different solution.
With the right metrics in place, you can determine what is and isn’t working for you and your customers.
These metrics can also expose setup issues.
Say you have call forwarding set up on the third ring, but most customers hang up by the second ring. In this case, you’ll want to change your criteria.
Here are some metrics to help gauge your call overflow solution:
- Average Abandon Rate: Abandon rate measures the number of inbound phone calls that are dropped by the customer before speaking to someone. To measure the average abandonment rate, divide the number of abandoned calls by the overall number of calls you’ve received. One thing to note: Most companies leave out any calls that were dropped within the first five seconds.
- Average Time to Answer: The average time to answer, or the average speed to answer, measures how long it takes for an agent to pick up the phone. It specifically calculates how long an agent’s phone rings before he or she picks up, not how long your customer was spent in queue.
- Average Time in Queue: On the other end of the spectrum, the average time in queue measures the customer’s time spent waiting for someone to pick up the phone. This call center metric correlates with customer satisfaction, especially given that customers aren’t willing to wait more than a minute for a business to answer the phone.
A Smarter Way to Manage Call Overflow
Missing calls doesn’t have to be the norm for your business.
In 15 minutes or less, you can set up Numa to rescue potential missed calls and revenue for a fraction of the price of traditional solutions.
Ready to see Numa in action?
Schedule your Numa demo today.