When you’re working through what feels like an endless stream of tasks during the work day, it’s easy to think that a few missed calls are no big deal. Unfortunately, this is an idea that many business owners become too comfortable with, and it affects their bottom line.

When you miss a call, you’re missing a potential opportunity. It’s true that not every call is going to guarantee new business, but the question is: can you afford to risk it?

In this three-part series, we’re going to discuss the true cost of missing a business call. To fully understand what we mean by this, we’ll be looking at the phrase ‘opportunity cost’.

Opportunity cost of missed calls

Without getting too technical, ‘opportunity cost’ essentially means missing out on a potential benefit because you are doing something else.

Almost every business decision comes with an opportunity cost. For example, let’s say you’re working on a proposal for an existing customer when the phone rings. You’re focused on the work, making some real headway, so you decide to ignore the phone and carry on working. By choosing to continue working, the opportunity cost that you face is the benefit you might have reaped by answering the phone.

There’s a simple equation to define this trade-off:

Opportunity Cost = (profit of the chosen option) – (profit of the alternative option)

In the above scenario, let’s say that the piece of work you’re focused on will bring $1,000 in profit. However, the missed call was from a potential customer offering a job worth $1,500. The opportunity cost is therefore: $1,000 minus $1,500. This equals a loss of $500 of potential revenue, just by missing that call.

Now, working out the opportunity cost in this way is easier said than done. In the moment, it’s a tough split-second decision to make: answering inbound calls is incredibly important but so is focusing on your current projects.

To give this another added dimension, let’s look at the scenario from the customer’s perspective.

The customer

Out of all the other options available, this customer – let’s call her Mandy – has found her way to your website. This is likely the result of your hard work building your brand, promoting your products, and marketing your business. You might have even paid for an ad that brought her to you.

Mandy’s now looked at the options available to her and decided to call you. She gets your voicemail. She’s now got two options – leave a message and hope you’ll call her back, or move on to the next company.

The simple fact is, nobody likes voicemail. Nearly 85% of people whose calls are not answered will not try again, and most won’t even leave a message. If you were the consumer in this situation, what would your decision be? It’s likely you’d simply take your business elsewhere.

For many people, something as simple as an unanswered call is an example of poor customer service. According to an Oracle customer experience report, 89% of consumers who experience poor service will take their money to a competing brand.

In our scenario, because Mandy reached your voicemail, she might assume that the business does not value new customers, and they may be unlikely to try again. Worse still, if the caller feels affronted by the lack of attention, they may even speak negatively about their experience, which could affect your reputation if word travels.

Of course, this isn’t your fault. You were busy with an established customer, and it’s equally important to make sure existing customers are being given a quality service. But, nonetheless, the split-second decision to continue working rather than answering an inbound call could have cost you a sale.

It’s within this grey area that a 24/7 live answering service can support your growth. By partnering with AnswerForce, you can mitigate the opportunity cost of missed calls and potential sales.

Check out part 2 of our series on the opportunity cost of missed business calls, where we delve into other ways that an unanswered phone could be harming your profits.