Understanding and predicting today’s customer expectations

Welcome to Ruby’s 2023 call trends report! Below, you’ll find comprehensive customer communication insights based on over 62 million calls our virtual receptionists answered on behalf of small businesses. Start scrolling to read though the complete report—or jump to the sections that matter most to your organization by using the buttons below.


Communication has never been more complicated. The faster we’re able to connect with others, the more possibilities we open for collaboration—and for our meanings to be lost in translation. Technology allows us to start countless conversations. But listening? That’s still more art than science.   

The pandemic and velocity of disruptions over the last few years have made matters even more complex. We’ve witnessed rapid social change that’s caused many of us to rethink our relationships with the businesses in our lives. Meanwhile, the trend towards automation and other cost-saving measures has prompted businesses to reevaluate how they interact with their customers.  

These extraordinary shifts have come together to create an environment of uncertainty, leaving customers searching for reassurance, and businesses looking for ways to rise above the noise. Fortunately, over-the-phone conversations have provided an answer for both. While response times through asynchronous channels like text and email can vary, phone calls allow organizations of all sizes to understand and address customer concerns in real time. This means that phone calls are immediate indicators of changing business realities, market conditions, customer sentiment, and more.  

With that in mind, let’s explore five key trends from the last year in phone calls to help your business predict course changes and prepare for the road ahead:  

  1. Phone calls are bringing in more leads for businesses. 
  2. Robocalls are on the rise. 
  3. Challenging calls have (slightly) increased. 
  4. The workweek is slowly shifting.
  5. Seasonality is changing across certain industries.

Ruby’s 2023 call trends report
builds on our inaugural edition with the addition of new categories and a larger data set gathered from five years of customer calls. These insights come from thousands of hours of real-world conversations with today’s small business customers—reflecting changing attitudes and expectations over the past half-decade. Our goal is to show you what’s happening in your industry, what trends you should be paying attention to, and what steps your business can take today to secure long-term success.

Need additional help? Our virtual receptionists are available part-time, full-time, or 24/7 to answer incoming calls and create meaningful connections with the people you serve. Book a consultation today.

Ruby’s solutions and the findings of the 2023 call trends report are geared towards US-based, service-oriented companies. This report covers calls Ruby’s small business customers received from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022—a total of 62,210,820 calls. Industries represented in the report include healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, nonprofit organizations, transportation, and more.  


1. Phone calls are bringing in more leads for businesses.

From employees to vendors to telemarketers, people of all kinds use the phone to contact businesses. For many organizations, however, the most important callers are potential patients, customers, or clients, often referred to as leads. And as the role of the phone has evolved, so has the nature of these conversations.   That’s because today’s consumers have more tools than ever when it comes to finding information. Websites, live chat, and social media, to name a few, make it easy for people to research your business before ever reaching out. And when they do reach out, it’s because they’re ready to move the conversation forward. As a result, the percentage of calls comprising leads has been increasing in most industries over the last few years—with a 9.6% increase between 2019 and 2022 alone.¹ 
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Each of these trends varies significantly across different kinds of businesses. Organizations in different industries experience unique rates of leads as well as call volume overall.

Simultaneously, more and more of the calls businesses receive are likely from first-time callers.²

Here’s a closer look at the top five industries experiencing increased lead generation and growth through the phone3:


For legal professionals, the number of leads generated from calls has remained fairly consistent since 2019—with roughly one in five calls representing a new client prospect.

Business services

Business services saw a marked increase in phone leads throughout 2021—with a decrease to pre-2021 levels by the end of 2022.

Financial services

Similar to those in the legal industry, financial professionals have seen a consistent number of leads coming in through the phone over the past several years. Of note is the fact that, while these businesses tend to see an increase in leads during the March–April tax season, the number of leads tends to stay consistent throughout the year.


After an increase in over-the-phone leads between 2019 and 2021, the manufacturing industry has seen a 6% drop since the beginning of 2022.


The transportation industry witnessed an uptick in call leads throughout 2020 and 2021, with a small decline into 2022.

Key insights

What’s behind these changes? In addition to more channels and self-service options, advances in digital marketing and customer communication technology have empowered businesses to reduce “noise” from callers in earlier stages of the customer journey.

For instance, a potential buyer can reference frequently asked questions on a company’s website or contact them on social media to learn more about a service before placing a call. Meanwhile, the company can track and optimize that person’s interactions with tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software and a virtual receptionist solution.

That said, due to differences in customer or client expectations, as well as the availability and adoption of said tools, the impact of phone calls varies significantly across business sectors. An industry’s overall economic health may also be a factor—in some cases, call volume can indicate whether a sector is growing or experiencing a downturn.

How your business can respond

Know how your industry is trending and adapt accordingly.

While your business phone can be a powerful lead generator, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only tool at your disposal. The number of leads coming in over the phone shifts month-to-month—regardless of industry. This means that, no matter your business size or specialty, investing in other channels is key to driving leads year-round.

That said, if your business belongs to an industry with strong lead trends, then it might be worth looking into ways to use your business line as your competitive differentiator compared to other channels.

Understand how the people you serve prefer to communicate.

Every customer is different—and that extends to the ways they choose to interact with your business. Monitoring and optimizing your channels according to your customers’ behaviors is key to capturing opportunities and improving experiences.

For example, if you’re experiencing high call volumes, you’ll want to have the right people and processes in place to make sure these calls are answered quickly and professionally, routed appropriately, and result in positive outcomes. If call volume is going down, switch your focus to existing clients, expand into a new acquisition channel, or test a new target audience.

Ready to add the phone as a channel to grow your business? Book a consultation to learn more.


2. Robocalls are on the rise.

Robocalls are back with a vengeance after appearing to decline in 2021.

The Federal Communications Commission estimates that robocalls cost US businesses
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per year.
The frequency of robocalls increased by
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from 2021 to 2022.

The health services, manufacturing, nonprofit, real estate, and transportation sectors experience the largest number of spam calls—with the highest (manufacturing) receiving nearly twice as many as several other industries over the past year.

Conversely, the legal, personal services, insurance, education, and financial sectors receive the fewest number of robocalls—with an average of 10.6 calls per month in 2022.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of solutions that greatly reduce the frequency of robocalls businesses receive. Not all businesses use these solutions, however, and adoption varies by sector. For instance, although nonprofits receive more robocalls on average than real estate businesses, they lag behind in terms of proactively addressing the issue. And overall, adoption of robocall-blocking technology remains low. On average, only one in four businesses use robocall-blocking solutions.

Key insights

While some may consider robocalls to be nothing more than a pesky nuisance—the truth is that they represent a direct financial threat to today’s businesses. The FCC estimates that robocalls cost US businesses $3 billion per year in wasted time. And that doesn’t account for the costs related to security breaches from fraudulent calls. Robocalls also represent a massive opportunity cost from a customer service perspective. It’s been shown that frequent robocalls make people less likely to answer calls from unknown numbers, which could be coming from actual customers.5 And unfortunately, most people aren’t going to call back or leave a voicemail6—leaving business owners less opportunity to capitalize on phone calls as a lead source.

How your business can respond

Be ready for sudden increases (or decreases) in robocalls.

The fight against robocalls will continue—with the FCC continuing to introduce new legislation to combat spammers. But these calls are not likely to stop any time soon. Whether they’re coming in once a week, or once an hour, remember that answering each call is still important.

Understand what you lose when you send calls to voicemail.

Ignoring calls is never a solution. Sending calls to voicemail might save you a few moments of your time—but it’ll cost you customers in the long run. Remember, 80% of callers5 would rather hang up than leave a voicemail.

Block those robocalls!

As mentioned above, companies can take advantage of various effective robocall filtering solutions on the market—from simple smartphone-based apps to more advanced, people-powered technology. Some customer communication solutions (like Ruby) offer this technology as part of their service. With so many tools at your disposal, there’s no reason to let robocalls come between you and your customers.

Robocalls ruining your focus? Ruby’s virtual receptionists are trained to screen and respond, saving you time and frustration. Book a consultation to learn more.


3. Challenging calls have (slightly) increased.

The number of frustrated callers has risen since 2018. We’ve seen a nearly 2% increase between 2018-2022, reaching a peak of 1.08% of total calls in 2021.

Average frustrated caller rate in 2018:
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of monthly calls
Average frustrated caller rate in 2022:
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of monthly calls

The health services, manufacturing, real estate, technology, and transportation sectors had the highest volume of frustrated callers in 2022—with transportation receiving the most at 1.2%.

Business services, education, financial services, legal, and nonprofits & government were the industries that dealt with the fewest frustrated callers last year—at an average of 0.7% of all calls.

Despite these increases, frustrated callers only represent about 1 in 100 calls.

In some cases, the rates of frustrated callers have stayed the same; in others, it’s changed significantly.

Key insights

There’s no denying it: frustrated callers are on the rise. That may be the last thing that most business owners want to hear, but it also illustrates an important fact: that phone calls represent both major opportunities—and major challenges these days.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, while these kinds of conversations are never easy, frustrated callers comprise a fraction of all calls. Even the industry with the highest number of frustrated callers (transportation) still represents less than 1 in 50 callers.

How your business can respond

Know your industry benchmark and adjust if you’re over it.

There’s no pleasing everyone, and every business is bound to receive its fair share of unhappy callers. However, if you’re seeing a higher-than-normal number of frustrated calls, it’s important to recognize that this is more reflective of your customers’ needs and expectations. Make sure you’re asking questions and doing everything necessary to improve your service and align on expectations in order to minimize these tense interactions.

Even though frustrated callers are marginal, consider the impact of a negative customer experience.

You only get one chance at a first impression. That goes double for small businesses. A conversation with a frustrated caller may only last a few minutes, but that quick interaction can lead to negative word-of-mouth or a harsh online review that can have a long-lasting impact on your business’s reputation.

Make sure you have friendly, empathetic, well-trained pros answering your phone.

Sometimes, all an upset caller needs is someone to listen. The best way to navigate a challenging call is to have a real human on the other end of the line who knows how to turn even the toughest conversations around. Whether this is someone on your team, or an outsourced virtual receptionist solution, having the right person handling your calls is key to de-escalating the situation.

Ruby’s team of virtual receptionists are trained to respond to frustrated callers, ensuring a human connection at every turn. Get started today.


4. The workweek is slowly shifting.

If your Fridays are starting to feel just as busy as Mondays, you’re not alone. 1.3%, or 2,272, fewer calls on average came in on Mondays in 2022 compared to the year before. Meanwhile, Fridays have remained consistently busy, experiencing an average increase of 0.7%, or 5,226, calls in the last year alone.

Based on how Ruby services our customers, we’ve seen that shoulder-hour calls—those between 4 and 6 a.m., and 5 and 7 p.m.—have increased a little too. Most notably, we’ve seen a 10% increase in calls coming in between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. from 2020-2022.

Key insights

The business week is shifting. Not in a major change-your-business-hours kind of way—but in a subtle (yet still important) one. The workweek is blending together as call volume stays consistent throughout the week. And while one factor behind this is certainly rising expectations around 24/7 service—it also could be a lingering effect of the pandemic in the form of changing schedules and the shift to remote work (e.g., people having more flexibility to make and take appointments throughout the week).

How your business can respond

Don’t over-index on Monday.

Monday might feel the most daunting—but it’s not the busiest day call-wise for most businesses. As mentioned above, call volume tends to be consistent throughout the week, so make sure you have a consistent level of support Monday through Friday as well.

Consider a 24/7 solution.

A significant number of calls are coming in as early as 4 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. across most industries. And a few still trickle in throughout the evening. Depending on your business and your customers, it might be worth considering an investment in a 24/7 service to ensure your business captures every possible opportunity.

Day or night, Tuesday or Saturday, Ruby’s virtual receptionists are here to answer your calls. See how to free yourself from the phone today.


5. Seasonality is changing across certain industries.

Most businesses know their seasons from experience, history, and instinct. Some industries experience periods of increased demand followed by seasonal slowdowns—while others see a steady stream of business year-round.

However, recent call trends are showing some disruptions in seasonal predictability. Our data shows that seasons in various industries don’t necessarily happen when one might assume they would—and in some cases, seasonality has shifted.

Business and professional services


Energy and natural resources

Financial services

Health services

Home services



Manufacturing and distribution and sales

Nonprofits and government

Personal services

Pet services

Real estate



Travel and entertainment

These trends paint a different portrait for every industry, every year—even every customer. For some, this data highlights the resilience of certain industries during some of the most turbulent years on record. For others, it points to new opportunities to capitalize on demand during traditionally slow seasons.

Following two years of decreased call volume, the insurance sector is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels—with noticeable spikes in both June and November.

Nonprofits have experienced two years of increased call activity—particularly between June and December.

Businesses in the financial industry are seeing year-long demand—as well as notable spikes in call volume outside of tax season.

The legal and healthcare industries aren’t traditionally seasonal due to the unpredictable nature of client and patient needs. However, spikes still happen—as we saw in November 2022.

Key insights

Just as operational realities and customer expectations are changing, the nature of business seasons is changing in new, unpredictable ways. More customers are reaching out during traditionally slow times, and vice versa. It also appears that certain sectors might be staying busier throughout the year than previously thought.

How your business can respond

Know your industry’s true seasonality and plan accordingly.

It’s important to remember that these industry trends are just that—trends. Your business may see micro and even macro differences in busy periods compared to others in your industry. Keeping a close eye on call volume and reallocating resources before demand increases can help you increase efficiency, reduce overhead, and gain more opportunities to support new and existing customers.

Be ready for unpredictable shifts.

A significant number of calls are coming in as early as 4 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. across most industries. And a few still trickle in throughout the evening. Depending on your business and your customers, it might be worth considering an investment in a 24/7 service to ensure your business captures every possible opportunity.

Is your call volume feeling unpredictable? Ruby can lighten the load. Reach out for a personal consultation today.

How to make the most of every phone call—this year and beyond

After analyzing over 60 million customer calls, one thing is clear: the phone remains one of the most important tools small businesses have when it comes to creating lasting connections with the people they serve. But that’s not all we learned. Here’s a recap of what we discovered while researching this critical channel—along with our recommendations on how your business can make the most of each call:

Today’s customers are more informed than ever before—resulting in more people using the phone as the final step in their customer journey. That means your business should treat every caller as a potential prospect or as the loyal customer they already are. Make sure you have the right team and tools in place in order to capture these valuable opportunities and create moments of service excellence.

Robocalls aren’t going away—quite the opposite, in fact. As scam calls continue to ramp up, it’s up to business owners to take action and tune out the noise. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions out there that help you block these unwanted calls and limit distractions.


Frustrated calls may be on the rise, but they’re still far from the norm. Despite what you may see in the news or on social media, most customers are just looking for support from the businesses they interact with. That said, it’s important to know where your industry and your business stand and take steps to improve service where possible.

The workweek has changed, but only by a little bit. Being there for all of your callers starts with extending your business’s availability. Make sure you have people by the phone throughout the week to answer every call—and consider investing in 24/7 support as customers continue to expect round-the-clock service despite the size of your business.

We’re only just beginning to see the long-term effects of the pandemic on most industries—let alone understand the implications. Right now, you can help your business meet growing demand by comparing industry-average call volume against your own and allocating resources accordingly.

Customer expectations are already at record highs—and are continuing to climb. If you’re a solopreneur or small team, it can be tough to stay on top of customer service, client intake, appointment scheduling, lead qualification, and everything else in between. And it can be even harder to imagine doing all this 24/7/365 without a little help. Fortunately, help is out there. Imagine you, powered by Ruby. 

Are you ready to take your business to the next level?

If your organization is looking to improve customer communication, Ruby has you covered. Our highly-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. Ruby’s US-based team uses local details and customizable call instructions to create personalized experiences that help your business win and retain customers.

Interested in learning more? Take a virtual tour of our platform or call Ruby at 844-311-7829 to get started!

1This data includes all calls Ruby was able to categorize while handling for our customers. Excluded calls include immediate hang-ups, fax tones, and other calls that are automatically rerouted or in which receptionists are unable to connect with someone.
2As determined by calendar year; in some cases, a caller may have contacted the business before in a prior year.
3Data for these industries comprises all calls Ruby handled, including uncategorized calls.