One of the most important touch points in the customer buying journey is the phone call. After searching for your products or services on Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and visiting your company’s website, a prospect’s next likely step is to call you. In the case of a personal referral, a phone call from a prospect can be the very first touch point with your business.

Prospect expectations are very high at the phone call stage because they’re calling to see if you have the products or services they need. If you can answer the phone quickly (or reply immediately to a call you couldn’t answer) and provide the information prospects seek to determine if you’re the right company for them to do business with, you have an excellent chance of winning new business. Not sure how you’re doing at the phone call stage? Then check out these five signs of you might be suffering from phone failure and what you can do to improve your call handling and get more business.

1. You play hide and seek with your phone number.

Phone failure can start even before a prospect or customer calls your business. Excellent phone service begins with the phone number itself and how easy it is for your prospect to find. The ideal place for your company phone number is at the top of every page on your website. But if you’ve buried the phone number somewhere on your website, you’re making it too difficult for prospects to call you to begin with. So don’t send prospects on a hunting expedition! Make sure your phone number is visible and easy to find on every page of your website.

2. Your phone number is no longer current.

When your customers call, do they hear, “The number you have reached is no longer in service” or do they reach a voicemail that is not assigned to your front desk? Even worse, do they reach a different company altogether? These scenarios can occur when a company moves or if there are multiple company locations. So it’s important to audit all of your company phone numbers to see who’s answering the other line. You might be surprised to hear who answers.

3. Noone answers the phone when it rings.

According to Consumer Reports, 71% of its survey respondents said they felt “tremendously annoyed” when they couldn’t reach a human on the phone when they called a business. And 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration after not being able to talk with a live person. Does your phone just ring…and ring…and ring…? If so, try to determine why. Then, you can take steps to catch these all-important calls. For example, are you too busy to answer the phone and it’s time to hire a receptionist? Or, would a third-party phone service be helpful in taking after-hours phone messages for you? At the very least, ensure you have an easy-to-navigate voice messaging service in place so your prospects know they’ve reached the right company and that you will follow up with them.  Then, don’t leave them hanging; assign someone to call back those prospects as soon as possible to answer their questions.

4. You’re not monitoring how employees speak with prospects over the phone.

Did you know that you’re likely to generate 50% more sales-ready leads when your staff is trained to respond professionally and accurately with prospects over the phone? In addition, 73% of consumers give up on a business because of rude or incompetent staff. However, if you’re not sure how well your employees speak with prospects over the phone, you could be losing prospects. ­­One solution is to invest in call-recording software that helps you monitor calls between employees and prospects. Call monitoring will help you assess employee performance in terms of professionalism and knowledge of your products and services. With this information, you can then determine if employee coaching or additional product training is necessary. You will also have a deeper insight into your prospects’ needs and concerns so you can devise and carry out successful strategies to win their business.

5. You’re not collecting prospect email and phone number information.

Because 50% of leads will not call a business a second time, it’s important that you ask every prospect for their email address and phone number and store it in a centralized system or database. When you’ve collected this information, you have the data you need to follow up with the prospect if you’re not able to speak with them at the time of their initial phone call to your business. Plus, collecting email addresses give you the opportunity to follow up with them after they’ve bought from you when you have a special, event, or new product or service that may be beneficial to them.

What steps have you taken in your business to avoid “phone failure”? Let us know in the comments section!