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Brits want to stay on the line for longer during lockdown

by LLB Reporter
30th Apr 20 2:18 pm

Older callers and those self-isolating alone want to stay on the line for longer when calling businesses during lockdown, reports Moneypenny, whose 750 PAs handle phone calls for thousands of businesses nationwide.  A recent survey shows that 1/3 of UK companies are being swamped by calls and the company’s call data shows that average length of calls has increased by as much as 93% during recent lockdown weeks, depending on industry sector, and this seems to be due to the increase in small talk with the PAs, either because callers have more time on their hands, or because they are lonely in lockdown and crave human contact.

One of the Moneypenny PA comments: ‘The amount of small talk has definitely increased. I noticed a particular increase in elderly callers wanting to chat, a few have said to me that I’m the only person they have spoken to in days, which is absolutely heart-breaking. They’ve wanted to tell me about what they’re doing in their gardens, what plants they have, what they’ve been having for tea, whether they’re still watching the news…’.

There has also been a change in the types of calls received with an increase of calls to legal firms from customers focused on wills, will writing and seeking advice on divorce becoming more prominent. Callers to estate agents are trying to gain more information on listed properties rather than directly arranging viewing due to the restriction places on the property market. Healthcare callers are concerned about not being able to seek routine appointments for a dental check-up, while some are checking when paid cosmetic treatments or treatment plans have been postponed to.  However, most Moneypenny PAs report that callers to health clinics, doctors and vets have been very supportive and understanding, as one Moneypenny PA comments: ‘Callers say things such as “I know they are busy and I don’t want to add pressure on to them further.”

While some callers want to chat, Moneypenny reports that others are generally frustrated because they can’t get hold of the people they want to speak to, or because of different corona-related stress. These callers will vent a lot of their angst and share their stories, wanting to be heard. On the positive side, Moneypenny PAs report that most callers are impressed with how businesses are able to continue operating through home working.

A new sign off to calls is one of the most noticeable trends reported by Moneypenny PAs, with callers ending the conversation with ‘stay safe,’ as one Moneypenny staff member remarks: ‘Possibly the most noticeable change in the conversations I’m having with callers and clients is that people are now signing off by saying ‘stay safe’ – a small thing, but very thoughtful, and a nice reminder that we’re all in this together and that for the most part people are responding to this with kindness and compassion.’

Joanna Swash, CEO of Moneypenny comments: ‘43% of UK businesses say phone calls are more important than ever before due to the lockdown  and have now increased in length, not generally through frustration and anger from callers, but by the simple need to have human contact and a friendly inter-change during this difficult time. There really is a sense that we are all in this together and we encourage our PAs to do everything they can to help callers who may be worried, frustrated and frightened or who simply want to talk to someone.’

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