What’s the best way to make customers angry?

Ignore them.

Now why would anyone want to make their customers angry? You already know the answer to this question—you wouldn’t. No sane business owner wants to make their customers angry.

But many businesses are doing just that. We hear it all the time from our agency partners. Imagine: your digital agency designs a stellar lead-gen campaign to drive inbound leads from ad to landing page to call on a call-tracking number. You see it’s working. But when the leads start landing in your client’s inbox, they’re ignored.

If you work for a business that doesn’t promptly return phone calls or respond to texts, you already know the bad news: you have to deal with the fallout. The botched leads, lost sales, and 1-star reviews from people your client has never heard of all undermine your otherwise excellent marketing efforts.

But there’s good news, too: setting up some simple text auto-reply logic for missed calls and texts can shore up your clients’ responsiveness instantly—and make hay for your agency.

Customers Hate to Be Ignored 🤷‍♂️

The Consumer Reports National Survey Center shared a survey on customer service pain points. With this particular survey, they used a scale of 0 to 10, from “not annoying at all” to “tremendously irritating.” Can you guess the pain point at the top of your customer’s list?

Can’t get a live person on the phone, tops the list with 75 percent of customers listed as “tremendously irritated.”

That’s probably unsurprising.

But here’s a closer look at the rankings from their report:

The top irritants Percentage highly annoyed
Can’t get a live person on the phone 75
Customer service is rude or condescending 75*
Disconnected 74
Disconnected and unable to reach the same rep again 71
Transferred to a representative who can’t help or is wrong 70
Company doesn’t provide—or hides—customer-service phone number 68
Long wait on hold 66
Many phone-menu steps needed 66
Repeatedly asked for the same information 66
Proposed solution was useless 65
Salesperson ignored me 64
Unsure whether on hold or disconnected 62
Can’t speak with a supervisor 62
Phone menu doesn’t offer a needed option 61
Voice-recognition system works poorly 61
Sales pitch for unrelated goods or services 60
Salesperson is too pushy 60
* For in-store experiences, rudeness was highly annoying to 71 percent of respondents.  

Here’s where things get interesting.

Of the 17 items listed above, seven focus on a customer’s inability to receive the help they want or need. A lack of responsiveness is costing your client’s business customers if the problem is ignored.

When customers contact your business, they expect you to respond.

This is completely unreasonable.

You and I both know we can’t be available to customers on a 24/7 basis. What customers want is impossible.

Is it, though?

Why Text Auto-reply Is an Essential Tool for Business Now

DialogTech (formerly ifbyphone) wanted to answer several questions.

  1. How many of my calls are answered right away?
  2. How long can the others be kept on hold?
  3. Which sales or support rep should get which calls?

They analyzed data from their call centers, breaking their customers into four categories: small, medium, large, and extra-large.

Here’s what they found:

  • 60 percent of calls in a queue were answered in just over a minute however
  • 15 percent of callers tend to hang up right around 40 seconds
  • 22 percent of callers sent to voicemail
  • The average hold time across all sizes is 56 seconds
  • Businesses in the small category had the longest hold times at 1 min 47 seconds
  • Firms in the medium category had an average hold time of 39 seconds while those in the large and extra-large categories had 45 and 52 seconds, respectively

While some callers are willing to wait 1 min and 47 seconds, large segments of callers are unwilling to wait more than 40 to 60 seconds. Other studies reinforce this.

A Velaro survey of 2,500 consumers found:

  • 60 percent believe 1 min is too long to wait on hold
  • 32.3 percent believe their calls should be answered immediately, no hold time
  • 33 percent of consumers felt they weren’t willing to wait at all
  • Only 4.1 percent said they’d wait as long as it took

If you’re missing calls from prospective and current customers, you’re losing a lot of money. Here’s a rough estimate as an example.

  • $120 average order value (AOV)
  • 10,000 calls in Q1
  • 15% missed calls

10,000 calls in Q1 * 15% missed calls = 1,500 missed calls

1,500 missed calls * $120 (AOV) = $180,000 lost in Q1 or $720,000 annually

It’s a pricey mistake.

Especially once you factor in missed opportunity costs, lost sales due to poor reviews, and other consequences.

Use SMS Auto-replies to Recapture Lost Sales

Every inbound call is an opportunity not to be squandered. But a live human doesn’t always need to be at the other end of the line. If the caller simply receives confirmation that their message was received, it goes a long way. More effective auto-reply messages communicate expectations or other useful information, such as:

  • A friendly reply (e.g., So sorry we missed you. We’ll review and reach back out ASAP)
  • An after-hours reply (e.g., We’re back in the office Monday and look forward to talking then)
  • Minimizing wait times (e.g., We’re on the job site and can’t pickup the phone, but you can text with us!)
  • Directing emergency calls (e.g., if this is a maintenance emergency, call 789-321-5555, and we’re on it)

See what I mean?

Okay, let’s say you’re sold on the idea of using text message auto-replies, either for your own business or to save an unresponsive client from themselves. How can your agency setup SMS auto-replies for a business or call-tracking number?

It’s a simple 3-step process.

Step #1: Provide Ways for Callers and Customers to Opt-in to SMS

First, you’ll need a way to proactively gather SMS opt-ins from leads and customers, whether that’s by:

  1. Driving inbound texts with a “Text Us” call-to-action on an ad or website;
  2. Adding an SMS text web widget to the business website;
  3. Connecting your Twilio, CallRail or other tracking numbers to a texting platform that can automatically invite voice callers to text.

Step #2: Create Appropriate Automated Messaging

In crafting appropriate auto-replies or deeper automated conversation logic, you’ll need a general idea of the types of calls you’re receiving.

In most cases, business calls fall into the categories of “sales” or “support.” As agencies, we’re typically optimizing for inbound sales interest since that dovetails with our marketing and lead-generation efforts. Check out our detailed text messaging lead-gen use cases and examples by industry for some inspiration.

But let’s not forget that customer support can also be a profit center for many businesses, since it fuels customer retention.

Here is an example of the kind of automated messaging flow you can setup on a support line to remain responsive to existing customers and generate additional value for the business:

  1. Notify the caller that someone will contact them shortly
  2. Set appropriate expectations for the timeframe, and share any useful self-help resources
  3. Schedule a message to check-in with the customer later to verify a positive outcome
  4. If the outcome was negative, go back to step #1
  5. If the outcome was positive, request an online review

It’s a simple automation, but it’s an example of the kinds of outcomes you can create, and it all starts with an auto-reply message to missed calls. If you understand why your customer or prospect is calling, you have the information you need to build a campaign or automation around their request.

Step #3: Use Smart Messaging to Win Over Leads and Customers

Many consumers don’t want to have to call a business to get things done.

Research shows Gen Z and Millennial customers have an overwhelming preference for digital communication channels. If you’re receiving a phone call from customers these days, their requests are likely urgent or important.

If your auto-reply message is sent as text, near 100 percent of customers will read it.

As an agency, if you’re able to convert your clients’ missed or connected phone calls into text conversations, you increase the likelihood that customers will engage with the business rather than move on to a competitor.

And if you then craft smarter, more effective text messaging in the form of reusable templates and automations that can be used by anyone on the team? Now you’re helping your client’s business scale and realize the full value of your marketing efforts. And of course, you can charge accordingly 😉

Customers Really Hate To Be Ignored!

More and more, customers prefer to communicate with brands by digital means. If someone decides to make a phone call, it’s important that you give them the attention they deserve. When callers can’t get a live person on the phone, they’re “tremendously irritated.”

This irritation leads to decreased sales and a loss of revenue.

When customers contact a business, they expect a response; meeting their needs isn’t always possible. Auto-replies give you the opening you need to keep your relationships with customers intact. As we’ve seen, a large segment of callers are unwilling to wait more than 40 to 60 seconds.

Well, they shouldn’t have to.

With simple text auto-replies, you can give callers enough attention and support to keep them engaged. Then by using smart campaigns and automations, you can build an extraorinarily responsive business texting operation that delights customers and wins more business.