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Businesses must prepare for post-lockdown demand

As the end of the third national lockdown nears, UK businesses must prepare for a dramatic and sustained influx of new enquiries, according to research from Moneypenny.

Moneypenny handles more than 13 million calls and 2 million live chats each year for 13,000 businesses across a wide range of sectors.

Its latest figures show that during the first lockdown (26 March – 1 June 2020), telephone enquiries to UK businesses fell by 49% compared with pre lockdown figures  – however in the weeks that followed, there was sustained demand that continued to grow each week.

In the week after restrictions were lifted, enquiries were up 41% on the average weekly call volumes throughout lockdown and these levels continued to rise by another 24% over the next seven weeks.

By the end of July, volume was just 7% lower than 2019’s seasonal average, despite the fact that non-essential retail didn’t reopen until 15 June.

Interestingly, during the second lockdown (4 November to 2 December), there was just a 5% drop in  telephone demand compared to pre-lockdown and an uplift of 2% the week after, which suggests it was ‘business as usual’ by this stage, as companies and consumers adapted to the new normal.

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny said: “This data shows just how turbulent the last year has been for UK businesses. With rules and restrictions changing so often and such disparity among sectors, it has been difficult to anticipate and meet consumer demand.

“The data following lockdown two suggests that volumes will be more consistent as this lockdown ends – but with summer approaching and non-essential retail and personal care facilities such as hairdressers and beauty salons having been closed for so long, there will be a huge amount of pent up demand.”

She added: “Now the roadmap out of lockdown is in place and the vaccination roll-out is picking up pace, consumer confidence is increasing which signals a particularly busy few months on the horizon.

“Businesses must be able to take this demand in their stride and ensure that any lockdown quick fixes that were put in place regarding customer care or communication, have now been resolved.”

This is particularly sage advice as earlier this year, Moneypenny  reported that 85% of people think UK businesses are using Covid as an excuse for long call and live chat wait times – rather than putting adequate customer service support in place.

Joanna concluded: “Almost a year into the pandemic, consumers expect businesses across all sectors to have adapted and be able to prioritise excellent customer care. Any that are still missing calls, or with long call and live chat waiting times, are essentially telling customers that they’re not important, which will lead to lost revenue and tarnished reputations.

“They must take remedial action quickly. Meeting demand and ensuring a positive, timely, professional and efficient first impression is imperative to business recovery once restrictions are lifted.”

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