July 21, 2024

There are over 33 million small businesses in the U.S. According to the Small Business Administration, the industries with the highest number of small businesses are construction, real estate rental and leasing, transportation and warehousing, and professional services such as medical or legal. Together, small businesses receive a total of over 400 million calls daily. That works out to approximately a dozen daily calls per small business. Not every call is a potential new customer, but most are: they may be calling to schedule an appointment, ask questions about your products or services, request estimates, check on the status of an order, and more. 85% of people whose calls go unanswered will not be calling you again. Studies show that a small business has 24 hours, at most, to return the call before they decide to work with one of the competitors, or just change their mind or postpone the decision. Let’s examine the reasons for missed calls, the cost of potential lost business, and how to solve this issue with the help of a

virtual receptionist.

Why Do Businesses Miss So Many Calls?

If you run a business or manage an office, you probably already know some of the reasons why calls go unanswered. At times, there are too many inbound calls at the same time, more than the team in your office can possibly handle. Callers are becoming less patient, in today’s age where many tasks are handled and requests instantly. This means they may hang up before you or your receptionist can get to them. Another reason calls go unanswered is business hours: most offices do not answer calls before 8 am, after 6 pm, or during lunch breaks. And even during business hours, your receptionist may step out, attend a meeting, or be tied up handling other essential office tasks. Between the office hours, the multi-tasking nature of today’s office environment, and the sudden surges in call volume, it is no wonder that so many business calls go unanswered. 

If you are not sure how many calls your businesses loses, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Understaffing: Does your business miss calls due to not having enough staff available to handle incoming calls, especially during peak times or when experiencing unexpected surges in call volume? 
  2. Poor call handling procedures: Does your business have call handling procedures in place? Many businesses don’t, which leads to long “on hold” times, incorrect call routing, which means that frustrated customers are hanging up before their issues are addressed.
  3. Over reliance on voicemail: Does your business rely too heavily on voicemail systems to handle incoming calls? Studies show that the majority of callers prefer speaking to a live person, especially if their inquiries are time-sensitive. So when they get voicemail or an IVR, they tend to hang up. 
  4. Technical issues: Does your business face frequent technical problems such as phone system malfunctions? Poor network connectivity or outdated equipment can interfere with call reception and lead to missed calls. 
  5. Lack of prioritization: Does your business prioritize incoming calls effectively? Or, do important calls end up being overlooked or delayed in favor of less critical tasks? This is another common problem that can happen when there is a lack of clear protocols or training for your staff.

What Is the Cost of A Missed Call?

When you miss a call, are you losing a potential sale? A follow-up appointment? An opportunity to submit a bid, or possibly to win a client over? What does a missed call mean for your business’s reputation: will you be known as a business that’s impossible to get a hold of or a business that is responsive and available? When customers or potential clients leave a review about your business on a prominent site like Yelp.com, will they rave about the customer service they received, or complain about the lack of follow-up? One alarming statistic is that 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service. 

Imagine a small business getting about 12 calls a day. But sometimes, for reasons like not having enough staff or not handling calls well, these calls get missed.

Now, let’s say out of those 12 missed calls, two callers would have become customers if their questions were answered quickly and professionally. If we calculate the average cost of losing a customer at $245, each missed opportunity equals a loss of $490.

Now, let’s multiply this loss by the number of working days in a week (let’s say five), the weekly loss due to missed calls would be $2,450. That’s money that could have been added to your earnings if those calls were handled well.


Let’s take it further and look at the yearly impact. With 52 weeks in a year,  the annual loss from missed calls would be a whopping $126,360. Just imagine the growth and extra money you could have made if you didn’t miss out on those chances to turn callers into loyal customers.

How A Virtual Receptionist Helps Your Business Never Miss Calls

If your business is like the example above, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year due to missed calls, there is good news too: this problem can easily be solved. You can hire additional staff, set up appropriate training and protocols, and ensure that your phone technology is up to date. 

Another solution, which most small businesses find much more cost-effective, is to hire a virtual receptionist service. It’s like adding an entire team to answer phones around the clock, but without having to pay full-time salaries. With today’s advanced technology, connecting a virtual receptionist service is a breeze, and your callers may not even realize they are speaking with a 3rd party service, not your in-house staff. They will just be glad that their call is answered without a long wait time, or being transferred to voicemail. Best of all, virtual receptionists are trained to answer calls professionally, representing your business in the same courteous manner as you would. Here are just some of the tasks they can help you with:

  • Answering calls: handle incoming calls on behalf of your business, greet callers professionally, and provide basic information or assistance as needed.
  • Call routing: route calls to the appropriate department or person within the organization based on the rules you provide.
  • Taking messages: take messages for calls that cannot be immediately answered, so that important information is accurately recorded and immediately relayed to you, or to whomever you delegate.
  • Appointment scheduling: manage calendars and schedule appointments or bookings for clients or customers, coordinating availability and confirming appointments via email or SMS.
  • Call screening: screen calls to filter out unwanted solicitation or spam calls, allowing only legitimate calls to be forwarded to you or your employees. 

When considering the cost of lost business due to missed calls, the decision to hire a virtual receptionist should be an obvious one: for a fraction of the cost of hiring an additional full-time receptionist, you can have 24/7 live coverage. Plus, your in-house staff will be able to focus on other tasks, such as face-to-face interactions with clients, that cannot be outsourced. Stop missing calls and losing money, and start maximizing your business potential. 

Interesting Related Article: ” How to Record and Transcribe Phone Calls”

The Cost of Missed Calls For Your Business first appeared on Web and IT News.

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