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CALL TRENDS REPORT

Opportunities and insights for growing businesses

Today’s customers have a new voice. Their questions, challenges, and expectations are rapidly changing with the world around them. However, the key to providing exceptional experiences remains the same as ever—and it starts with listening.

Phone conversations continue to provide important insights into the needs of modern consumers. By asking the right questions, organizations of all sizes can better understand their audience in order to improve service and identify opportunities for growth. These include:

  1. When are people reaching out?
  2. Why do people call and what kind of experiences do they expect?
  3. Who, exactly, is calling?
  4. How does this all impact the bottom line?

Ruby’s 2022 call trends report explores these questions while highlighting the continued importance of optimized customer communication. We encourage small businesses—from solopreneurs to teams—to use the findings below as a framework for improving customer experiences and attracting more prospects.

Need additional help? Our virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to answer incoming calls and create meaningful connections with the people you serve. Join 14,000+ other businesses and book your free consultation with Ruby at ruby.com.

Ruby’s solutions and the findings of the 2022 call trends report are geared towards US-based, service-oriented companies. This report covers calls Ruby's small business customers received from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021—a total of 11,969,791 calls in 2020, and 13,391,523 calls in 2021. Industries represented in the report include legal services, financial services, home services, business services, healthcare, real estate, retail, nonprofit organizations, and more. Expanded insights related to specific industries can be found in sections 2 and 4.

When are people calling?

Weekdays continue to see the highest volume of calls, with the remaining 6% of calls coming in during the weekend. Call volume typically starts high at the beginning of the week before tapering off, with volume on Friday 12.92% lower than the peak on Tuesday.

1
Chart - Average share of calls per week

Most calls come in between 9am and 2pm, with call activity slowing down significantly between 8pm and 6am. Call volume peaked between 9am-10am and reached its lowest point between 1am-2am. In general, businesses receive fewer calls outside of working hours (6pm–5am PT) but these calls are increasing in frequency year over year, up to 3.2% in 2020 to 3.8 in 2021.

Avg. number of calls by hour
Avg. number of calls by hour
Key insights

The traditional workweek is here to stay—for now, at least. Even as many customers’ schedules become more flexible, most still prefer to contact businesses during peak hours when they’re most confident they’ll be able to reach someone.

However, the growing number of calls coming in before- and after-hours (sometimes referred to as “shoulder hours”) and on weekends also represent untapped opportunities for many businesses—especially those who serve high-value customers. Depending on the situation, an investment in support beyond typical working days and hours could yield significant returns.

How Ruby helps

Ruby's solutions are designed to meet demand during peak hours and beyond. You can expect:

  • Calls answered in under 10 seconds on average, even during high-volume days and times
  • 24/7 receptionist coverage support for businesses that regularly receive calls after-hours
  • Backup answering for organizations that need assistance answering incoming calls but can’t afford additional in-house hires

Why do people call?

People call businesses for many different reasons. Generally, a caller gets in touch to find or communicate information, engage in a transaction, resolve an issue, express an emotion, or a combination thereof. These reasons can be considered expected—and often mutually beneficial—aspects of a business’s relationship with its callers. The majority of callers seek to contact a business for such reasons, with unexpected and non-mutually-beneficial calls such as those from robocallers and solicitors comprising only 8% of all calls (for more information, see section 3: Who’s calling?).

In general, businesses tend to see lower numbers of frustrated callers early in the year, during the January to April period, before peaking towards the end of the year during the holidays. April 2020 saw the lowest number of frustrated callers with 0.42% across industries calling to express concerns, while November 2021 saw the highest with 0.64%. In 2020, the average percentage of frustrated callers was 0.49%, increasing to 0.56% in 2021.

2

Sentiment varies significantly among callers. A caller’s emotions can range from happiness to sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, amusement, distress, and more, with the caller often presenting multiple emotions over the course of a conversation. Nonetheless, callers who exhibit sentiments that suggest frustration—such as anger, annoyance, irritation, hostility, and disgust—tend to have a unique and disproportionately large impact on a business. Frustrated callers are more likely than others to cancel a service, enter into a dispute, broadcast negative feedback, or engage in any number of behaviors that can negatively affect a business’s revenue.

Chart - Frustrated callers by month
Key insights

While the number of frustrated callers represents a small portion of total calls (0.56% or approximately 1/200 callers), businesses should keep in mind that even one negative experience can lead to significant revenue loss in terms of lost customers, poor references and reviews, and long-term reputational damage. Given that most people will switch companies due to lackluster customer service , it’s critical for businesses to anticipate more challenging periods of the year and plan accordingly.

Businesses witnessed a noteworthy increase in frustrated callers from 2020 to 2021, likely due to pandemic-related issues such as product and labor shortages, business closures, and more. Organizations should expect the number of frustrated callers to escalate further as socioeconomic uncertainty and instability persist.

Those larger factors, coupled with rising caller expectations, make “soft skills” such as active listening and de-escalation paramount. Business owners should consider honing these skills or engaging with customer communication professionals who possess them. At the same time, it’s imperative for organizations to continually collect, analyze, and apply insights about their callers to improve efficiency and customer experience. This allows business owners to determine and understand the value of each call, so they can ultimately make more informed decisions, use their time more effectively, and step into their roles as proactive leaders—rather than reactive problem-solvers.

How Ruby helps

Turning difficult conversations into big wins for businesses is no simple task. Fortunately, Ruby’s virtual receptionists are experts at doing just that with:

  • 120 hours of customer service training
  • Expertise in active listening, empathetic service, and de-escalation
  • A focus on real conversations that serve to solve customers’ problems rather than a reliance on scripts that leave callers feeling just as frustrated

Who’s calling?

The largest number of calls to businesses come from known contacts—comprising existing customers, employees, vendors, and partners. This is followed by unspecified calls (typically ones that ended quickly with little information provided), current customers, and new prospects.

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Chart - Types of callers 2020
Chart - Types of callers 2021

Robocalls also represent a small but significant portion of incoming calls. In 2021, Ruby blocked an average of 23,155 robocalls per month, with the most activity occurring earlier in the year between January and March.

Robocalls
Chart - Robocalls blocked per month
Key insights

With the exception of robocalls and solicitor inquires, most calls (92%) represent opportunities — opportunities to win, retain, or lose business, improve perceptions, strengthen connections, and much more.

Put simply, every conversation between a business and its callers is valuable. Allowing even one call to slip through the cracks can mean countless dollars lost in opportunity costs, making it essential to dedicate the appropriate resources and humanpower to customer support.

The growing prevalence of robocalls illustrates another important factor in addition to cost—a small business owner’s time. It takes 23 minutes to regain focus after an interruption, meaning that even one robocall a day can result in over 400 hours per year of lost productivity. Having a call-filtering solution in place can help businesses avoid unnecessary distractions and maximize billable hours.

How Ruby helps

Ruby’s features and tools work together to help businesses save time and capitalize on every opportunity. Capabilities include:

  • Customizable call handling and forwarding instructions that allow us to connect small businesses with important callers while minimizing distractions
  • Proprietary technology that lets us quickly collect, organize, and share important call details
  • An advanced robocall filtering system that automatically blocks spam calls and helps businesses stay focused on the task at hand

How do calls impact the bottom line?

In 2021, there were 1,609,263 leads captured out of 13,291,523 total calls — representing 12.1% of all incoming calls. This was a 21% jump from the previous year. Although March 2021 saw the highest number of inbound leads, the average remained consistent throughout the year.

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Chart -  Leads generated per month
Key insights

It’s clear that phone calls remain a critical tool for lead generation. While other channels such as social media and display advertising also play an important role, the fact that a business line is an owned channel puts organizations in greater control of the customer journey.

However, without the right processes and expertise in place, converting leads over the phone is not a guarantee. Optimizing call experiences and ensuring that a service team is prepared to handle these types of interactions is essential to capturing each opportunity.

How Ruby helps

Ruby’s virtual receptionists specialize in creating the kind of interactions that turn first-time callers into long-term customers. We do this by:

  • Providing unparalleled service that results in greater loyalty and unforgettable experiences
  • Gathering intake information on businesses’ behalf
  • Connecting prospects directly with businesses’ sales teams

Key takeaways and next steps

Answering a combined 25.3 million calls in 2020 and 2021 gave us plenty of opportunities to listen to callers, learn about their challenges, and better understand the needs of today’s small business customers. Here’s what we found:

  1. Businesses are bouncing back after an unpredictable period in the market. We’ve continued to see incoming calls increase as customers and organizations readjust to a post-pandemic landscape.
  2. Businesses are getting better at marketing themselves. The large increase in inbound leads suggests that more businesses have been able to grow their brand reputation and capture the interest of prospective customers.
  3. Expectations for 24/7 availability are increasing. Even as more people work across different locations and time zones, the traditional Monday–Friday schedule remains predominant. However, the increase in after-hours calls points to a gradual but critical shift in customer expectations around business availability.
  4. Consumers are looking for deeper, more empathetic service year-round. Noticeable call volume increases in the automotive, business services, and healthcare sectors align with current market realities. However, the year-long stability for financial businesses was unexpected and may be indicative of these organizations’ ability to pivot into more consultative roles.

For these reasons and others, phone interactions are more important than ever. Every call is an opportunity for an organization to stand out, make a positive impression, and win loyalty—or lose business and trust.

If your organization is looking to improve customer communication while reducing overhead, Ruby has you covered. Our trained virtual receptionists and proprietary technology allow us to answer any call for any business—delighting callers while sounding just like a member of your in-house team. Our US-based team uses local details and customized call instructions to create personalized experiences that help your business win and retain customers.

Learn more at ruby.com or call Ruby at 844-311-7829.

©2022 Ruby. All Rights Reserved. Ruby is a registered trademark of Ruby Receptionists, Inc.

Learn more at ruby.com or call Ruby at 844-311-7829.

©2022 Ruby. All Rights Reserved. Ruby is a registered trademark of Ruby Receptionists, Inc.