A day in the life of an FM phone line

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May 07, 2015

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Most companies would like to think they know how (and how often) their calls are being answered. But a `mystery shop’ of a mixture of 138 FM providers and suppliers; large and small, has revealed some major shortcomings when it comes to handling telephone calls with only 32 (23%) companies answering all their calls in person up to 8pm.

Telephone answering specialist Moneypenny commissioned the independent research to look at how FM businesses perform when it comes to successfully answering incoming calls both during the day and out of hours.

One call was made during normal office hours and another between 6pm and 8pm with response time, call-handling method, content and delivery style individually scored.

The findings highlighted a marked difference in the quality of the response depending on the time of the call, with 94% of calls answered by a person during the day compared to just 22% in the evening.

Of these 94% daytime calls successfully answered, 78% were picked up within 10 seconds, 17% between 11 and 20 seconds, with a further 5% taking longer than 21 seconds to pick up. Voicemail accounted for an additional 5% of calls, while only one call was a `no reply’. The average answer time was 8.2 seconds.

The evening presented a very different picture with 56% of calls going straight to voicemail, 12% to a recorded message and 9% received no reply at all. Of the 22% calls answered in person, 61% were answered within 10 seconds, 12% between 11 and 20 seconds and a whopping 27% took longer than 21 seconds (6% between 21 and 30 seconds and 21%  in excess of 31 seconds). The average answer time jumped to 17.6 seconds.

Call greeting was scored on content and delivery with 88% of the 138 companies rated as `good’ or above during the daytime, compared to 66% in the evening. Day or evening 20% scored `excellent’ with a score of 81% or higher.

Call handling, scored to the same criteria revealed a similar pattern with 79% rated `good’ or above during the day compared to 54% in the evening and again 20% rated `excellent’.

Some specific feedback identified a range of issues including greetings incorrectly using good morning/good afternoon, `singing’ the greeting, background noise including the handling of equipment and putting the caller on hold immediately after the greeting was spoken.

Some calls were handled using inappropriate, casual or mumbled speech, some lacked engagement while others underplayed the importance of their role on the front desk saying “I’m only on the switchboard.”

In addition, a number of voicemails flagged up generic messages with no company name or information, some didn’t specify the business was closed and in some cases the mailbox was too full to leave a message.

Julie Hulme, Moneypenny’s Business Development Manager for the FM sector said: “With an increasing number of FM businesses seeking telephone answering support either on an overflow or fully outsourced basis, this research has provided really useful data in flagging call trends and patterns. Consistent, high quality call handling is a critical factor in business success and with the eight hour standard day a thing of the past, businesses have to adapt accordingly.

“While there are many positive signs, we are seeing a marked difference in the way FM businesses are tackling calls during office hours as compared to the evening, with overnight calls likely to follow a similar pattern. There’s also a job to be done with 6% of calls not answered by a person during working hours at all, equating to unnecessary missed opportunities and customer service failings.”