It’s the summer travel season and you can’t wait to book your next getaway. You hop online, do some research and find the best deal for that beachfront view in Santa Cruz. So, you pick up the phone to book directly, only to be lost in an endless phone tree – or even worse, stuck on hold.
A new study from the Marchex Institute finds an alarming number of phone calls in the travel industry – specifically cruises and hotels – fail. Inbound calls are being neglected, either by the customer hanging up or the call going unanswered altogether. In an economy where marketers say that customers who initiate an inbound call at some point in the customer journey contribute to more than a quarter of all sales – this represents a large number of potential customers lost due to poor phone handling.
In the Marchex study, 5.8 million calls to 13 hotel brands were analyzed, and 84,000 calls to four cruise brands. Of all the calls made to hotels, 14% failed, or about 812,000 calls over the course of the study. Of this 14%, the majority either went unanswered or were abandoned by the caller during the interactive voice response (IVR) or voicemail. These made up 10% of all calls, while 1% were abandoned while the caller was on hold and 3% were abandoned during a transfer.
Of the 84,000 calls made to cruise brands, a surprising 24% of calls failed, ending interactions with almost a quarter of potential travelers. A clear majority, 19%, were abandoned by the caller during the IVR or voicemail. This number is significant – nearly a fifth of potential customers for these four brands were compelled to hang up instead of sitting through a voicemail message or the automated routing. As the benchmark report for this study states, “Considering the volume of calls these four brands received, that statistic represents a correspondingly significant number of failed calls, which in turn, represents potential lost opportunities.”
Change Your Route to Reduce Abandoned Calls
According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting, those that call your business are your best customers. They convert faster, spend more, and have a higher retention rate. So, how can companies in the travel industry reduce their failed call rate and increase revenue? Take steps to reduce unanswered calls and streamline the call routing process by following these main remedies for failed calls:
1) Limit hold times to prevent customers from hanging up in frustration
2) Keep communication simple, concise, and easy to follow
3) Invest in agent training so they know how to deal with issues that deviate from the average sales call, rather than keeping consumers waiting for a transfer or a consultation.
Making sure that potential customers can get on the line with an agent – and keeping them from abandoning the call during the routing process – business can wipe away a significant portion of these failed calls and increase revenue from one of the most valuable customer bases.