Calls vs. Texting: What Customers Prefer
Statistics about communication habits that will help your business reach patrons faster.
By Eli Robinson
In today’s climate, you can hardly do a business call without the word “data” coming up at some point. Gut is just as important as it’s always been in making decisions for your franchise, but increasingly, complimenting your intuitions with information is vital.
Our company, FranFunnel, sits at the nexus of the communication world and the franchising world. And as such, there are a few key pieces of data that we want to pass along to you to help you think about how your franchise communicates.
Let’s start out with an easy one: Gallup – yes, the polling company – asked Americans about the frequency they send e-mails, send texts and use both cell phones and landlines. Text messaging is now the top communication method for Americans (39 percent), followed closely behind by mobile phone calls (38 percent) and email (37 percent). Landline calls from home, unsurprisingly, are only at 9 percent. This highlights the need to have both A) text messaging as part of a communication plan and B) a varied approach to finding which method works best for each person.
How many people put their mobile number into a lead form so you can text them? Based on our data, 3 out of 4 people give a cell phone and it’s only going up. The idea that “people don’t really give you their cell phone” is a complete myth. In fact, people almost exclusively give you cell phone numbers.
What about preferences? Just because you can message someone doesn’t mean that you should. What percentage of people prefer receiving a text message to an email? Based on our tests, 90 percent texting and 10 percent phone call is your answer. Yes, 9 out of 10 people prefer texting to calling in the franchise space.
“The idea that ‘people don’t really give you their cell phone’ is a complete myth.”
Fewer Answering Phones
And to make matters worse for those who prefer phone calls, answer rates are as low as they’ve ever been. Because of things like Caller ID and robo-calling, people will do everything they can to ignore your calls. Our data suggests that call answer rates are below 3 percent. Is your team placing 25 to 50 calls to get one person to pick up the phone?
This, of course, is very alarming for the franchise space. Many of the industry’s greatest brands were built on the foundation of cold calling. But as the data shows, those days are clearly over. Text messaging is overtaking calls as the way people want to communicate. Why is that?
The easiest explanation is that text messaging is asynchronous while phone calls are synchronous. In simpler terms, phone calls require two people to be available at the same time. Text messaging, while still between two people, only requires one person to be available at a time. By removing the necessity for two people to be available simultaneously, the conversation can happen all the time rather than at very specific times.
“Leads demand instant gratification on their requests.”
This is as important as ever since 62 percent of all franchise leads are generated outside of working hours. That’s right, nearly 2 out of 3 leads you generate are while your sales team isn’t working. Since the internet allows for 24/7 lead generation, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. on weeknights and to a lesser extent weekends are popular times for people to seek information. While phone calls are unreasonable at some of these times, texting certainly isn’t.
The final question to answer concerns timing. Even if people prefer texting and leads come in all the time, why can’t franchises simply pursue those leads during normal working hours. The answer lies in the demand for instant satisfaction. When franchises send automated texts to their leads, 19 percent who respond do so in the first minute, 50 percent in the first five minutes and 70 percent within the hour. Half the people you reach, you’ll get in the first 5 minutes. Waiting to communicate with people until you’re ready means that you’re allowing various distractions to get in the way for your leads.
• Texting is the most popular communication method but it’s close to email and mobile phone calls.
• People provide mobile phone numbers almost exclusively.
• Franchise leads prefer texting to calling 90/10.
• Phone call answer rates are lower than most people will admit.
• Majority of leads are generated outside of working hours.
• Leads demand instant gratification on their requests.
What’s your franchise’s communication strategy? What does your data say?
Eli Robinson is General Manager of FranFunnel. Find out more at https://www.franchise.org/franfunnel-supplier.