Customers are becoming more tech-savvy. Omnichannel consumers use every device and resource available to them throughout the shopping journey. With smartphone usage on the rise, customers don’t just fill out web forms, send emails or live-chat with brands; they call as well. And they’re calling in increasing numbers. Enter inbound call marketing.
In fact, a study by advertising research and advisory firm BIA/Kelsey predicts that “annual calls to businesses from smartphones will reach 162 billion by 2019.”
No surprises there, considering that:
- A January 2017 report from the Pew Research Center found that 77% of Americans now own smartphones compared to 35% in 2011
- Worldwide, Strategy Analytics predicts that 44% of the global population will own smartphones in 2017, and by 2022, the penetration rate will further increase to 59%
Why customers call
Smartphones are aptly named. They’re smart, they’re useful, they can do a lot of things – take photos, record a video, remind you of birthdays and anniversaries you’re likely to forget, help you get from point A to point B, and a host of other uses. A Harris Interactive poll even found that they can save you up to 22 days of free time per year. Or in dollar terms, $12,000 in time-saving value.
But why do customers still use their smartphones to call instead of just email or submit a helpdesk request via an online form? Aren’t digital interactions supposedly more meaningful and efficient?
Below are four reasons:
1. Customers want their issues resolved fast, without jumping through hoops.
Email response times vary. Some people respond to emails in under an hour; some as fast as within two minutes. But according to email productivity software Boomerang, the average response time stands at 23 hours.
In contrast, the average wait time for a live chat session is an impressive 45 seconds in 2016, says LiveChat100. However, live chat is still written communication. Add in fat fingers typing on a small screen or a chat widget that isn’t optimized for mobile into the mix, and you have a problem.
When customers call, it’s generally because:
- There’s something they want quickly addressed, or
- A phone call is the communication method most convenient for them
2. Customers want multiple ways to connect with a business.
Despite the various communication gateways you’ve made available for your customers, they may still call if they’re unable or unwilling to use digital contact methods. As such, it’s a huge disservice to your callers if you don’t afford them the same attention you give customers who would rather email or send you a tweet.
Calling customers can also alert you to problems on your site or social media channels. This enables you to act swiftly and accordingly, such as issue an advisory, fix the site’s broken links, alert your social media team of activity on the company’s page, delete a suspicious website plugin, and so on.
3. Phone calls provide clarity.
There are simple situations some customers have trouble articulating. For example, an ISP customer I once spoke with in a previous customer service job called to report a “hijacking” on his computer. He was clearly distressed, and it was only several minutes later that I understood his predicament: His modem was reset and he needed help with his username and password.
It’s easier and less time-consuming to ask a complicated or multi-step question on the phone, such as customizing an order or attempting to understand a deal offer that includes certain restrictions.
4. Inbound phone calls make the online-to-offline path to purchase more seamless for customers.
Modern shoppers research online and buy offline (ROBO), a phenomenon digital marketing professionals also tag as “ROPO (research online, purchase offline),” “webrooming,” or “reverse showrooming.” Shoppers still want to touch and feel a product before purchasing. Not to mention that some deals are only available in brick-and-mortar stores.
Other shoppers browse in-store and then look online for options with the lowest cost. This, on the other hand, is known as “showrooming.”
Whichever shopping behavior they choose to adopt, phone calls ultimately help customers determine the options best suited for them.
Why inbound call marketing is important for businesses
Now that we’ve established inbound phone calls aren’t going away anytime soon, the next course of action is to implement tracking tools to analyze your calls for insights that let you understand what makes the phone experience unique and valuable for the customer. That’s where the “marketing” meets inbound call marketing.
Customer experience directly influences business results, after all.
Analytics tools like Marchex Call Tracking carry features that measure call success, tie calls to marketing campaigns, determine what customer-facing representatives are doing right or wrong, and monitor how long customers are on hold, among others – all in the name of making the overall customer journey a painless and profitable one, one phone interaction at a time.
As long as the ability to make a phone call exists, phone lines will keep on ringing. As such, squeeze the most value out of inbound call marketing through tools that systematically analyze your calls for ways to make the customer experience more meaningful and memorable.