Marchex Institute Study: How Poor Call Handling Affects Volume of Customers

SEATTLE—Marchex released a series of reports that measure the call-handling performance of hotel and cruise brands. By analyzing 5.8 million calls to 13 hotel brands and 84,000 calls to four cruise lines, the Marchex Institute identified key call handling challenges the industries are facing, resulting in lost sales opportunities and negative customer experiences.

A set of key performance indicators were evaluated for each brand, including unanswered calls, calls abandoned by customers due to interactive voice response (IVR) or reaching a voicemail, calls abandoned due to being put on hold and calls abandoned when being transferred to an agent.

  • Cruise lines experience a higher rate of failed calls with 24% of inbound calls going unanswered or abandoned by customers. Hotel brands had a 14% failed call rate.
  • Both hotel and cruise brands lose the most callers when a human touchpoint isn’t involved. More than 19% of failed calls to cruise lines and 5% of failed calls to hotels resulted from customers being trapped in an automated IVR menu loop or reaching the brand’s voicemail.
  • A significant percent of failed calls simply go unanswered. Hotels left an average of 5% of calls unanswered compared to 2% of calls to cruise lines going unanswered.

“By 2020, it’s projected that 169 billion calls will be made to businesses from mobile devices. For industries, such as travel, that rely heavily on inbound phone calls to generate bookings—this is a critical channel to invest in,” said Brian Craig, VP of analytics marketing and product management at Marchex. “By using call analytics to measure the quality of these calls and pin point why calls fail, businesses can take the necessary steps to improve call management, which ultimately leads to increased sales and customer satisfaction.”

Marchex also has recommendations to improve call handling in the travel industry based on these findings:

  • Streamline the call routing process and eliminate unnecessary or duplicative steps. Small improvements like shortening voicemail greetings can also help encourage callers to leave a message instead of hanging up.
  • Reduce unanswered calls by staffing up during peak hours of operation and when your business receives the highest volume of calls.
  • Avoid placing callers on hold, or if necessary, keep hold times to a minimum, aiming for less than 90 seconds.