Why 3 Really Is The Magic Number

Why 3 is the magic number for answering the phone

Does this sound familiar?

You’re having a busy day, with emails flying in, problems that need to be solved and a whole pile of work you need to get through. You’re up against it time wise, but you’ve finally gotten yourself ‘in the zone’ and are getting some real work done. Then the phone rings.

It’s frustrating, and since you’re in the middle of something, your first instinct might be to ignore it. But it keeps ringing, so you jot down a note to help you remember where you got to and you pick up the phone. But when you finally get there, the line is dead, and now you’ve been disturbed from your work and you don’t have a prospect to show for it. Want to know why?

Because you didn’t answer in three rings.

Why 3 Rings?

For a long time now, it’s been a rule of basic telephone etiquette to answer within three rings. It’s one of those unwritten rules of the industry, but why? Why is the third ring the most important? What’s the difference between the third ring and the fourth? Well, the fact is that if you don’t answer by the third ring, 7 out of 10 callers will hang up, and not call back again. Most answerphones kick in after about 15 seconds (5 rings), and since a lot of people don’t like to leave messages (more on that in a future blog), they will hang up before then. In fact, it’s been estimated that after 3 rings, each additional ring will cost your business around £1,000 in lost opportunities. There are two main reasons for that:

  • Potential customers are quite impatient, and want to know they will get the best service from you.
  • While a potential customer is sitting in front of their computer, phone in hand, calling you, there are three or four browser tabs open in front of them, each displaying a competitors information.

That means that if you don’t pick up the phone quickly to help them, that new prospect is going to hang up and call the next company in their line until someone picks up.

How Can I Always Answer In 3 Rings?

That’s the big question. You’re a busy business owner with a lot of things to do, so how do you make sure that you can hit the sweet spot and get your phone answered within 3 rings every time? And how do you still make sure calls get answered when you want to take a break, are immersed in a high-value activity that needs protected time, or when you just need a period of undisturbed concentration to get your work done?

For some people it’s simple enough to do, especially in the beginning. Desk-based workers will often be able to answer within 3 rings, but they won’t necessarily want to all the time. They may not want to be disturbed, or have other things they need to do. But as the business gets busier, it will become impractical for you to answer the phone all the time, so you will probably need some help answering the phone.

That’s where a telephone answering service really shows its benefits. If you’re too busy to answer, you can just send the call to the answering service, and they will pick up for you right away. If you know you’re going to have a busy day, going to be in meetings or just won’t be able to answer the phone fast enough (a tradesman up a ladder is our favourite example of this), then you can direct all your calls straight to an answering service, where they will be dealt with within 3 rings.

At Verbatim we understand how difficult, if not impossible it can be to have someone in your office answering the phone all the time. Which is where we can help. We work with professional services and business owners to help them manage their calls and get them all answered as soon as possible. Whether that’s just as an overflow service when they are too busy to take calls (or out of hours), through to full virtual reception services to take all calls for them. Our services are flexible, professional, and exactly what you need to support your growing business. To find out more, just get in touch with the team today.

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