The type of worldwide upheaval that this pandemic has caused hasn’t been felt in generations. And not since the Great Recession have businesses of every type experienced this type of impact — whether it’s for better or for worse — and things keep evolving every day. The one constant for most marketers is the search for new ways to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.
At Invoca, our customers work in human-centered industries like financial services, healthcare, and telecommunications, where calls are a core part of selling and interacting with consumers. For many, the onset of this pandemic in the U.S., meant immediately relocating physical contact centers to a virtual environment—a herculean effort that our customer eHealth completed in a matter of days. Those that rely heavily on in-person appointments, like our customer 3 Day Blinds, needed to quickly pivot messaging and create offers for virtual consultation.
As our customers are adapting to this new reality, we’ve been hyper-focused on understanding the changes to their businesses and how Invoca can help them during this time. We’ve been holding industry-specific virtual meetups with our customers to hear from them first hand, and we’re passing along our learnings on the blog as we go (check out learnings for Healthcare Marketers and Insurance Marketers).
We are also tracking Invoca platform data to learn how COVID-19 has impacted call volume across twelve different industries. We have four weeks of data that you can view and we’ll be updating the graph weekly.
After analyzing the current data set for call volume fluctuations by industry over the past month, here are four key takeaways.
Financial Services is Dealing with a Surge in Call Volume
Our financial services customers have experienced the largest surge in inbound calls, spiking 45% the week of March 15. Our read is that it’s largely a result of the Fed cutting interest rates to near zero percent, and the resulting actions people want to take such as refinancing their mortgage and pulling cash from their homes to provide a financial cushion. Not only that, over 3 million people have lost their jobs so far, while the Dow Jones had its worst Q1 in history, losing over 23% of its value.This has left people scrambling to reallocate their investments and get a handle on retirement savings. In fact, we saw a 19% increase in calls to our financial services customers from the week of March 8 to the week of March 15, which lines up with the meteoric spike in unemployment and filings and the historic drop in the stock market.
Calls to Leisure, Travel, and Hospitality Companies Declining
The declining call volume our travel customers are experiencing is unfortunately not surprising. Aside from an initial wave of calls to cancel existing travel bookings, not many people are calling, and given the uncertainty of what’s ahead, it’s just not realistic to make travel plans. Several of our travel customers have even paused their paid search campaigns because it makes more sense to reinvest that spend elsewhere, given no one is booking travel. However, the travel industry proved its resiliency after the 2009 financial crisis, so it’s likely that companies in this industry will bounce back as people begin traveling again.
Telecommunications Call Volume Contracts, then Spikes
Call volume for the telco industry decreased during the first two weeks of March. This is when COVID-19 was taking hold in North America and people were likely focused on adapting to their new reality and not thinking about changing their wireless plan. Conversely, in the last two weeks of March, call volume swung the other direction and we’re now seeing a 21% increase in telco call volume for the week of March 22. This is really interesting and indicative of how social interactions have been going virtual due to the increasing number of cities and states adopting a shelter-in-place rule. I know that I’ve been FaceTiming a whole heck of a lot more than I used to!
Hospital and Healthcare Call Volume Remains Steady, Senior Care Calls Rise
Given the nature of the crisis that we’re in, we expected a huge influx of calls for the hospitals and healthcare industry vertical. However, that’s not what our data shows over the past month. Instead, call volume stayed relatively steady. Here are a few reasons why we think this is the case, which was also validated during our healthcare customer meet-up.
- Many healthcare marketers have set up centralized content pages and dedicated their home pages to guide customers directly to information about coronavirus.
- Given that non-critical in-person visits are not recommended, there has been an increase in telehealth usage and hospital networks are helping people to diagnose their symptoms online.
- Elective procedures in many states have been banned, which means that people are not calling to inquire and schedule them.
- During this time, it’s possible that people are reaching out directly to their primary care physician versus calling a hospital or healthcare network.
However, call volume to senior care organizations has been increasing over the past three weeks. This could be due to the older demographic that these centers serve, and the propensity of their family or caregivers to call — especially during a time when there is a lot of fear around having a loved one in a retirement or elder care community. Marketers in this industry have been focused on getting accurate information out and ensuring their members are safe during this time. Call center employees are also being trained to address timely concerns and where applicable, help people plan for the future since many retirement communities aren’t taking new admissions currently.
How Invoca is Helping Customers
Despite the fluctuations in call volume data that we’re showing across industries, let’s make one thing clear — it’s not an easy time for any business in any industry right now. Our world has been dealt something entirely unexpected and we’re all doing the best we can, personally and professionally.
At Invoca, this includes doing everything we can to help our customers and to plan for the new realities that the remainder of 2020 and beyond will bring. It’s inspiring to see the innovation, passion, and teamwork coming together in the service of our customers. For example, we have developed a predefined keyword spotting Signal for coronavirus-related inquiries that we can deploy on a customer’s platform. And, should a geographic call center closure be necessary, customers can easily reroute calls in the Invoca platform to another call center without making any other changes to existing ads or campaigns. More details on that in this post.
As companies look to re-engage customers or acquire new ones, providing a great experience across online and offline channels will be critical in building trust. If you want to talk more, please reach out or call (855) 658-1073.