People Just Don’t Answer Their Phone Anymore

Finally.

Honestly, I’ve been looking for data about how frequently people answer their phone for years…years!

Many companies have some sort of information about how many phone calls they get answered, but precious few who have data on phone call answer rates ever publish anything!

Intuitively and anecdotally, we all know that answer rates are as low as they’ve ever been. But just how low are they? No one knew.

But last night, it finally all changed.

We’ll get back to the data, but for second, let’s look at the reasons why phone call answer rates are so low:

1. Caller ID – I personally believe this is the number one reason. (I wrote about it a little while back.) Caller ID was introduced in the early 90s but really didn’t hit its modern manifestation until much later. At first, it was simply used to show you the number of the person calling, but now it’s more about letting you know whether or you know the person. When a number shows up instead of a name, you really really don’t want to answer the phone.

2. Smart Phones – This one is a bit nuanced as mobile phones were originally invented in order to increase answer rates. You needed to have your phone with you at all times, so people could find you when they needed to. However, thanks to Steve Jobs and others, these things we used to call “cellular telephones” became used for far, far more than simply placing and receiving calls. Now, phone calls represent an extreme minority of actions taken on your phone. Yesterday, I even overheard a co-worker saying that he had removed the phone call app from his home screen!

3. Robocalls – Oh technology. We all know that robocalls are an epidemic in this world. Whenever you answer the phone for a number you don’t know, you almost expect it to be a pre-recorded message on the other side of the line. Pre-recorded messages suck. And every time you hear one (congrats on that free cruise you just won btw…), you become less and less likely to answer the phone the next time. Also, this just feeds into Caller ID as you become more reliant on it to determine what calls you answer.

4. Messaging As An Alternative – Finally, phone calls are no longer the preferred mode of communication between people in America. As we’ve written about over and over again, e-mail and now text messaging is quite frankly how people choose to communicate with each other. And as these asynchronous mediums get more and more popular, it’s directly at the expense of the phone call. We’re even getting the point now where grandparents are texting with their grandkids!

Back to the data!

As I was perusing the internet last night, I came across the New York Times’ introduction of their “Live Polling” experiment. In it, they’re attempting to demystify the practice of polling by showing the public what it’s like to actually poll America.

And of course the primary tool that they use to poll is….PHONE CALLS! (A longer look at their methodology could be found here.)

Essentially, they are taking voter registration records and calling those phone numbers asking who they are planning on voting for. And while polling may seem like a weird corollary to normal sales and marketing, there’s an important point to make: the people being called don’t know that the call is for a poll.

To them, they see this:

The exact same thing that they see when you call them!

And what happens when you try to call people in this manner?

For easier digestion...

Response rates between 1-2%!

I understand that you are likely calling numbers from people who provided them to you. And yes, this means that your answer rates are likely higher. But I’m assuming not by much! Why? Because the leads see the same thing as the polees.

You’re going to end up placing 25-50 phone calls for every time someone answers the phone once.

But not all the news is bad. There are some things that you can do to combat these realities –

At FranFunnel, we do everything we can to help businesses solve this problem. So stop “woe is me-ing” with regard to your call strategy. Get a FranFunnel Demo today!

Eli Robinson is the General Manager of FranFunnel. He doesn’t answer his phone either.

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