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What is Phone Anxiety?

How to Avoid Your Customer's Voicemail

Mia Jensen | Jan 12, 2021
Phone Anxiety

You’re calling your customers and often land in their voicemail, leaving you with one thought; why aren’t people answering the phone? Hearing that dreaded voicemail inbox repeatedly can be irritating, and research shows that 90% of voicemails are never returned.

There could be a number of reasons why your customers aren’t picking up your calls. They could be driving, eating, sleeping - but there might be a bigger reason as to why fewer customers are answering the phones: phone phobia, or better known as phone anxiety.

What is Phone Anxiety?
Phone anxiety (also known as telephobia) is a fear or phobia of calling people or being called.

Anyone can have phone anxiety. Some people can be completely comfortable talking in front of a crowd or sending out a dozen text messages a day, and yet the thought of their next call or cold calling can cause anxious thoughts. Telephobia is a common fear for those who experience social anxiety disorder.

In some extreme cases, people may experience severe emotional symptoms of phone anxiety or even anxiety attacks. Some may display physical symptoms such as muscular tension, dizziness, and more.

According to Statistics Canada, social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder) is one of the most common anxiety disorders, and is among the most common psychiatric illnesses. In the U.S. alone, it affects over 15 million American adults.

Beyond the numbers, it’s also important to note that more and more people dislike phone calls, whether or not they’re impacted by social anxiety disorder.

How much can phone anxiety impact customers?

Symptoms of phone anxiety can manifest in both emotional and physical distress. Emotional symptoms can include: delay in answering phone calls/complete avoidance of them, obsession over what was said, and stress. Physical symptoms can include: nausea, shaking, lack of concentration, and shortness of breath.

Why do people get phone anxiety?

There are a number of reasons why your customers might dread phone conversations:

1. Looking foolish/awkward
To try to avoid looking foolish around your staff, customers will often show high degrees of self monitoring. Too much self-monitoring can make real-life conversations more awkward, and exacerbate their anxiety. This stressful experience can also lead to miscommunication or fear of speaking up when requesting a service from your company.

2. Rejection
Fear of rejection could be linked to a deeper trauma, and clinical psychologists believe that it could be related to receiving very bad news on the phone that can lead to a hatred of your phone.

3. Lack of Non-Verbal Cues
90% of communication is nonverbal (i.e. body language, eye contact, and facial expressions), and not being able to see those social cues on the phone can cause misunderstanding. Phone calls can make concepts harder to grasp, and interpretations a guessing game.

4. Time Pressure
Calls are time-consuming and require your full attention. While texting can be left off to more convenient times, phone calls are disruptive. Written communication allows you to have time to gather your thoughts and edit before hitting send, but when on the phone, every word can feel like a gamble.

5. Judgement
Many people who experience social anxiety fear that they are being judged on the phone. They may fear being judged for being an inconvenience, and they may never call you to avoid “bothering” you.

6. Inexperience
In the age of texting, some people may never call on the phone. This lack of experience, coupled with their anxiety, can be enough to stop them from answering the phone or calling you for questions.

How to Ease Your Customer’s Mind

Customers’ avoidance of phone conversations can be quite disruptive to your professional life, and for modern businesses, it’s important to find a suitable alternative to connect with your clients. To ensure that your customers experience the utmost comfort, here are some online options to reduce phone anxiety:

1. Text your customers their appointment reminders and updates.

By incorporating business text messaging you can update your customers of important information and schedule appointments. Texting is an effective way to make sure your customers will always be in the know about your business without you having to go out of your way to call them.

With texting you can ensure that you never disturb their day, and avoid their voicemail inbox. Studies show that text messaging is the superior medium of communication as it has a 98% open rate, and 95% are opened within the first 5 minutes. The sheer convenience of texts ensures that their time isn’t wasted, and yours isn’t too.

2. Using SMS messaging for inquiries.

If your only other channel of communication with your customers is through email or a web form, they are much less likely to ask you any short or simple questions about your services or product.

They are probably not going to craft a long email asking you a simple question like an inventory check for a single product, especially if they are afraid to call in the first place. This creates a problem because you are not able to give the professional help they need to buy your service/product, and will move on to a different business with an easier mode of communication.

With text messaging, customers will be able to word their messages quickly with little to no effort. This ensures that they have all the information they need to determine whether or not you can help them and they will be more likely to bring their business to you due to ease of communication.

3. Use emojis to mimic positive facial expressions.

Phone conversations can feel very foreign for many people because we all rely on reading body language and behavioral cues to understand each other. Not being able to have more intimate contact can really deter customers from reaching out to you.

In order to ease these anxious people, you can mimic facial cues by adding personality to your messages with emojis. This gesture can help people with phone phobias, and not to mention that millennials will appreciate your ability to speak their language.

For example, you can use a smiley face to convey your enthusiasm, and a thumbs up when they book an appointment to show excitement. That way, people can get a better understanding of how you feel, and therefore ease their anxiety about not being able to see you face-to-face.

4. Using your social media channels.

Businesses exchange more than 20 billion messages with people on Facebook Messenger every month. With these statistics in mind, it’s safe to say that many of your customers are constantly exposed to external distractions that might keep them from calling you.

They are using those social platforms on the daily, so being able to be reached on those platforms allows you to conveniently interact with your customers on their preferred platform.

If your customers are unwilling to call you, you can meet them halfway by conversing on the apps they’re already using. There are also platforms that allow you to integrate social media and text messages into one unified inbox so that you are able to converse with your clients on social media all in one place.

5. Send quick review links via mobile for feedback.

Reviews are incredibly important to enhancing your business’ online reputation, and 84% of people consider them to be as reliable as a personal recommendation. The more reviews on your site, the more trust you will garner.

They are important for gaining new customers but are especially integral for anxiety-prone individuals who may read them first to determine your ability to give them the best service possible. It can be a tricky process to ask for feedback as some people may feel uncomfortable when directly asked to leave a review.

Instead, you can alleviate any awkwardness they may feel towards leaving reviews by sending them a link via text that allows them to easily leave a review without any social pressure. This ensures that the interaction is as comfortable as possible and you get the online exposure you need to grow your business.

6. Ensure availability.

Let your customers know that they are in no way inconveniencing you with their inquiries. Hesitance over calling could be a sign that people with phone anxiety may fee that they are a nuisance to the people they are calling.

When you reaffirm to your customer that you are glad they reached out and you are always available and ready to help, you can ease their mind of the anxiety of potentially catching you at a bad time. The more enthusiastic you are about their calls or texts, the less nervous they will be.

7. Reward your customer.

You can let your customer know that you value their time and effort to speak to you, even when their anxiety could get in the way. By rewarding the customer with discounts or special offers. This effective treatment not only makes them feel special, but also gives them an incentive to continue to do business with you.

An example of this would be to send them a message soon after your initial conversation saying “It was a pleasure to speak with you Claire. As a special thank you I’d like to offer you 20% off” or “Thanks for speaking with me on the phone today Sam, it’s always a pleasure! I hope to hear from you again, and here’s a $5 credit for being a great customer.”

Make your customer feel good about talking on the phone with you so that they are less afraid to do it again.

We're here to help

At DemandHub, we truly understand the importance of communicating effectively with your customers in a way that is most comfortable for everyone. Customer convenience is at the forefront of great service, and with the help of our tools, you can streamline all of your communications into one easy digital system.

Improve your customer relationships by offering them a variety of different ways to connect. Don’t miss out on any more connections and book a demo with us today to see how easy it is to connect with your customers instantly! DemandHub is here to help make your business dreams a reality.

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