Letting voicemail answer your calls could be costing your business

Relying on voicemail is having a huge detrimental effect on the bottom line of Britain’s smallest businesses, new research suggests.

Britain’s small businesses are missing out on work because they are failing to answer their phone calls, and are instead letting them go through to voicemail. This means they are losing business at an early stage, as the majority of callers refuse to leave voicemail messages, according to new research.

In a survey of 300 micro businesses (0-9 employees) and an examination of its own call data from 10,000 businesses, telephone answering service, Moneypenny, finds that a third of the businesses surveyed (33 per cent) failed to answer their incoming calls.

The report also reveals that 69 per cent of the callers who were answered by voicemail declined to leave a message, and instead hung up.

Moneypenny warns that this can have an enormous negative effect on a small business’s revenue, as the value of each missed call significantly impacts its bottom line, particularly in the current economic climate.

Ed Reeves, director and co-founder of MoneyPenny, thinks that a customer getting through to a voicemail instead of a person is like tearing up money. It’s akin to walking into a shop with no one at the till. Buyers simply ring the next supplier on the list.

Reeves adds, ‘Pretty much every prospective customer hangs up at an answer message, yet so many businesses, especially those run from mobiles, have no solution in place. UK SME’s are losing a fortune in business opportunities, and our dependency on operating our business from our mobiles is making things worse.

‘Customers use phone enquiries differently nowadays; a phone call is no longer a research tool –that’s handled by social media, websites or email – instead it’s the final reassurance prior to a purchase. This results in fewer, yet higher, value phone calls coming from only the most serious of buyers. Not answering those calls guarantees losing the business.’

The report states that those who do let their calls go through to voicemail are letting themselves down with their message greetings too. A staggering 54 per cent relied on the standard network message to greet the callers who wanted to leave their details.

Additionally, only 33 per cent of recorded voicemail messages actually referenced the business with a professional greeting, whilst 13 per cent used a personal recorded greeting with no reference of the business connected with the number.

Ed continues, ‘We all hate leaving voicemail messages as much as we dislike listening to them. But if a mobile is answered by a real person, you’ve immediately got a business connection. Larger companies have long ago realised the value of this personal touch, but it seems their smaller peers are still lagging behind and missing even the basics of a professional business front.’


Regardless of the figures, many micro business owners are very aware of the consequences of not answering their mobiles and relying on voicemail, which include irritating customers, missing out on new business opportunities and appearing unprofessional.

Further reading on customer service

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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