The busiest period of the year is just around the corner, and despite ongoing inflation, holiday spending is expected to grow in 2023. The National Retail Federation has recently forecast that holiday retail sales during November and December 2023 will grow between 3% and 4% over 2021 to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.
For many businesses, the holiday season is by far the most hectic time of the year. If your business frequently communicates with customers over the phone, then making sure you have a robust phone system in place before the holiday period begins is essential.
In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips to avoid holiday phone congestion and help to make sure your customers feel valued and prioritized over the next couple of months.
Why prioritizing your business phone lines is important
Many businesses continue to underestimate the importance of phone calls. A 2021 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Please Hold Media Group (PHMG) that surveyed 1,000 consumers and 1,000 business decision-makers in the US, UK, and Australia, reveals that almost one-in-five business owners think that telephone is no longer the most important method of communication for their business.
It’s understandable why: Millennials (currently aged between 26 and 41) and Gen Z (currently aged between 10 and 25) have a reputation for avoiding phone calls. A study by device trade-in comparison site BankMyCell – which refers to Millennials as ‘Generation Mute’ – reveals that 75% of Millennials avoid phone calls as they’re time-consuming and they want to communicate faster and get straightforward answers.
However, failing to prioritize your phone lines means you could be missing out on many opportunities to connect with your customers. PHMG’s survey also reveals that the telephone remains the preferred method of contact when getting in touch with businesses. A significant 88% of those surveyed said they actively chose the phone over other contact methods when contacting businesses.
Avoiding holiday phone line congestion over busy periods
Here are some tips to avoid phone line congestion over busy periods to help make sure your customers feel prioritized over the holiday season this year:
1. Set up automated greetings
First and foremost, auto-attendant greetings reassure your customers that they have called the right number.
It also gives you the chance to share crucial information about your business that the customer may need to know, to wish them happy holidays, and to thank them for their patience, loyalty, and support over the year. For instance, you can use the opportunity to remind customers of your opening hours and let them know what date you will be closing for Christmas and reopening for the new year.
In some cases, your automated greeting may answer the customers’ question, in which case they won’t actually need to speak to anyone. This will help you to save time and focus on answering other customers’ questions instead.
2. Schedule call back times
According to a recent study, more than half of Americans say they spend between 10 to 20 minutes each week on hold. Over the course of a lifetime, this adds up to approximately 43 days.
To make sure you don’t contribute to this statistic – and to reduce the stress on your phone lines – you can schedule call back times with your customers. Your employees can then prioritize these calls later, hopefully when the line is less busy.
Allowing your customers to take control by choosing a callback eliminates frustration and provides better customer satisfaction, while also taking some of the heat off your employees.
3. Set up customized call routing
Call routing places each incoming call in a queue, and then routes the call to a specific person, or group of people, based on a pre-set of rules and criteria, before the person on the receiving end has picked up the call. This reduces the wait time – and therefore the abandonment rate – and lets you transfer and forward calls when agents are busy.
Many businesses use interactive voice response (IVR) technology to route incoming calls. This is especially useful for businesses that have a large number of inbound callers. With IVR, recorded prompts ask a caller to state why they’ve called, or press a number corresponding to that reason. The IVR system then routes the caller to the required destination – usually either a pre-defined extension, or a contact center agent.
IVR systems also allow on-the-go customization. For instance, supervisors can assign calls to different agents during busy periods according to who is busy and who has taken the most calls in their shift, and they can also place calls in a queue during particularly busy times.
GoTo Connect makes call routing smarter, and more customized
GoTo Connect is a cloud phone system and virtual meeting, and messaging platform designed to help you stay connected with your customers and avoid phone line congestion over the holiday season.
It lets you customize wait times, auto attendants, voicemail boxes, and sound clips, and plan exactly where incoming calls are going. You can also make changes in real-time, and schedule different call patterns according to holidays to make sure your customers feel valued and prioritized.
Find out more about the benefits of GoTo Connect, and find out how you can use it in your business.