For today's consumer, automated and unsolicited phone calls have evolved into an expected nuisance. "Robocalls" disturb dinner and incite anger, rarely accomplishing the task they set out to complete. However, many neglect to address the fact that, if done right, there's a distinct difference between telemarketing correspondence and unsolicited (but potentially valuable) service phone calls. While telemarketers specifically aim to sell something the consumer never wanted in the first place, unsolicited service phone calls from an unfamiliar number offer the opportunity to extend and enhance customer relationships.
According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of inContact, the majority of U.S. adults-87 percent-would like to be contacted proactively by the organizations and companies with which they currently do business. But, because of the poor reputation that precedes these unknown callers, most shun the ring of the telephone, as 64 percent of respondents say they've signed up for the Do Not Call registry. The survey, which polled 2,034 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older, examines how companies can use proactive contact to create pleasant, positive interactions that boost satisfaction instead of triggering frustration.
"The survey shows that consumers are open to companies contacting themproactively, but they want them to do so in a way that meets theirindividual needs and preferences. Forward-thinking companies are takingthe initiative to create pleasant, positive interactions that improve theway their customers perceive them," said Paul Jarman, CEO of inContact.
The following statistics explore how consumers perceive the average unsolicited phone call and their willingness to receive such communications:
- While 65 percent of those surveyed want to be contacted about fraudulent activity on their accounts, 53 percent want to be contacted when setting appointments or reminders, and 51 percent want to be contacted when questions about an order they've placed arise.
- Eighty-five percent of those who welcome proactive contact prefer to be reached via email.
- Just over half (53 percent) of U.S. adults answer calls from unfamiliar phone numbers.
- When customers hear a delay after answering an unfamiliar number, the most common initial reaction is to hang up (26 percent). According to 45 percent of those polled, this pause indicates that an automated service has placed the call, while 9 percent believe it indicates that they aren't important to the caller.
- Thirty percent of respondents say that, if there was no delay or pause, they would be more receptive and interested in what the unfamiliar caller might have to say.
- Though 45 percent of U.S. adults could be persuaded to stay on the line when answering a call from an unfamiliar phone number, 21 percent say they'd only do so if there was no hesitation.
- Nineteen percent of respondents would stay on the call if the company or service was calling to save them money as an existing customer, another 19 percent would stay on the line if their bank or credit card company identified themselves and stated they were calling with important account information, and 18 percent would be more likely to stay on the line if the call was personalized and conversational.
- Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults surveyed have had a pleasant experience or been pleasantly surprised by an incoming call from a business or service provider. Of those, 73 percent report that the interaction had a positive change in their perception of the given organization, 33 percent believe the company is looking out for their best interests, and 32 percent feel the brand is loyal to them as a customer.
- Of those who've had a positive experience, 62 percent have taken action, 25 percent have shared their story with friends and family, and 22 percent have recommended the company.
Key takeaway: When it comes to unsolicited service phone calls, companies must work hard to restore faith in this particular communication channel. Luckily, many consumers are very open to opportunities that improve their experience and their perception of the given brand. For instance, 13 percent of those who had a positive experience during an unexpected call from a business or service provider cited relevant information as the primary reason for their satisfaction, while 9 percent credit the fact that the organization flagged a relevant opportunity or offer that they otherwise would've missed. The success of such interactions clearly highlights the potential benefits of proactive phone communications. Customers not only want offers that add value to their lives, but they also want to know that they're a valued asset themselves. By tailoring such communications to the consumer's preferences, companies create their own opportunities and inevitably cultivate the trustworthy foundation necessary for long-lasting customer satisfaction and loyalty.