RUBY: CALL TRENDS 2023

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.

Introduction

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.  

Leads

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 
0 %
2019
0 %
2022

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:

Legal

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.

Manufacturing

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.

Transportation

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.

Leads

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
$ 0 billion
per year.
The frequency of robocalls increased by
0 %
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.