Franchise businesses ignore the importance of good call handling at their peril according to a new “mystery caller” survey that looked at call handling customer service skills. Despite most delivering overall great customer service, the survey of 60 companies showed room for improvement among franchise businesses, including a mix in performance in terms of the warmth of the greeting, helpfulness, and call handling quality throughout the call. 

Nearly half of the businesses called defaulted to voicemail, with ten even letting the phone ring until it was disconnected. Over half of the companies received a score of “poor” for their greeting, overall helpfulness, and warmth, with only five of those “shopped” earning “outstanding” marks across the board. When it came to the speed of calls being answered, the best-performing company answered in less than one ring or five seconds and the worst performing answered in an average of seven rings or 39.89 seconds.

In the case of one franchise owner, Brian Mullins from Critter Control of Akron, having the phones covered for his small crew of five has helped his team utilize their time most effectively in the field. Critter Control Certified Wildlife Specialists provide service to residential, commercial, and municipal customers with permanent solutions to animal pest control problems.

“Letting someone else answer our calls has allowed us to utilize our time most effectively in the field,” said Mullins. “This has allowed us to not only prioritize customer service, but also our new business development, which has significantly aided our growth and expansion. Having a dedicated receptionist means we can always respond to any hiccups and resolve them quickly.”

Earlier Moneypenny research suggested consumers call when something is really important: 44% do if it was an urgent matter and a 33% if it is a complicated matter. Of those surveyed, 82% said a great call experience is a differentiator for a business. Around a third said a bad experience would have them take their business elsewhere, complain, and spread the word to friends and family – not the words a franchise brand tends to want shared. This can be especially difficult for franchisees who are often leanly staffed small businesses.


Adding members to your team to scale your franchise business can be an expensive prospect. But, when you are too busy to respond to new calls, the first impression you are giving may not be the one your business deserves. While no one expects a customer service representative to be available at midnight, a lot of people do their searching in the evenings, and if someone is there to take a person’s call at 7 p.m., there is a better chance they will become a customer. Some easy tips include:

Put yourselves in the shoes of the client. Think about what causes irritation to you as a customer and what would impress you. Review your own internal procedures and client touch points to see how you fare. If possible, have your own franchise mystery shopped or use client feedback so you know where to improve.

Make call handling a strategic consideration. All too often, answering the phone is treated as something that just happens, rather than a business-critical activity that can determine first impressions, your reputation, and new business. Put the right resource in place, whether that’s in house or with the help of an outsourced provider, to minimize disruption for your team and improve call handling efficiency.

Manage expectations. Part of ensuring positive impressions is being clear, honest and up front about what clients can expect. Establish whether call backs are really necessary and, if so, when they will be made. If Live Chat cannot provide an immediate answer, when will someone get in touch and how? 

Think digital. Making your website more informative and interactive can add tremendous value – not just to the client experience but also to your internal processes. The addition of quote calculators, portals to upload information for new instructions, and Live Chat to answer FAQs and queries in real time, all help to handle queries without the need for a call.  A Live Chat operator can manage three chats in the time it would take to manage one call.

Take a look at your “Calls To Action. Ensure that the channels you are directing people to, whether a phone number or a managed chat, offer a good experience. Are they available 24/7 and can customers and prospects access the information they need easily?

We were surprised how many businesses did not place as much focus on their customer service when answering the phone. Clients will form a lasting impression of your franchise from a phone call, so a long delay in a call being answered or a cold phone experience could cause irreparable damage to both your business and your broader brand. The difference in answering after one ring versus five or more may sound small, but when someone picks up the phone, they are looking for answers, not frustration.

Stephanie Vaughan-Jones is Head of Business Development for Moneypenny USA, a global leader in providing phone answering, receptionist teams, Live Chat and customer contact solutions. Based in Atlanta, she is a key member of Moneypenny’s award-winning culture, which includes over 1250 employees across the US and UK. Moneypenny handles over 20 million calls and chats for 21,000 businesses with awesome people superpowered by leading-edge tech solutions to deliver seamless customer engagement outcomes. For more information, visit