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Solar eclipse blacks out phone calls to US businesses

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Inbound phone calls to US businesses dropped by an average of 9% nationwide during the total solar eclipse yesterday as consumers paused to observe the phenomenon, according to a new report from DialogTech, a leading provider of actionable marketing analytics for phone calls.

The drop was far more pronounced in those states in the eclipse’s path of totality, where the average drop in inbound calls was as high as 42%.

The data in this study comes from the DialogTech voice management platform, a marketing analytics solution used by thousands of brands and agencies to attribute, personalize and optimize inbound phone calls to businesses. The DialogTech platform tracks nearly 20 million phone calls a month generated by digital advertising, offline marketing and website interactions.

By comparing call volumes during yesterday’s eclipse with an average Monday afternoon, some startling trends emerged that illustrate the nation’s fascination with the eclipse, which while a wonder to behold, also had a significant impact on US businesses. During the hours of the eclipse, US businesses nationwide experienced an average decline in inbound calls by 9%, according to data analyzed by DialogTech’s Analytics Services team.

The drop in customer calls to businesses was especially pronounced in those states within the eclipse’s path of totality, a 70-mile wide area that moved from west to east, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. Those areas experienced reductions in call volumes as high as 42%.

“There is a misconception that because the eclipse happened during lunch hour, the financial impact was minimal,” said Alain Stephan, SVP of Analytics Services at DialogTech. “But this is simply not true. The data DialogTech captures for businesses shows that, for many industries, mid-day is when inbound call volumes are at their highest, with consumers calling during lunch breaks to make doctor’s appointments, schedule test drives at their local dealership and make vacation plans.”

According to data from the DialogTech study, the top 10 states impacted by reduced calls to businesses during the eclipse were:

  1. Wyoming: 42% reduction in calls
  2. Louisiana: 27% reduction in calls
  3. Tennessee: 26% reduction in calls
  4. Missouri: 25% reduction in calls
  5. Alaska: 23% reduction in calls
  6. South Carolina: 22% reduction in calls
  7. South Dakota: 21% reduction in calls
  8. Nebraska: 20% reduction in calls
  9. Kansas: 19% reduction in calls
  10. Oregon: 18% reduction in calls

Inbound phone calls are effective revenue drivers for most businesses. A recent Forrester study found that “customers who initiate inbound calls convert to revenue faster, spend more and have a higher retention rate.” And thanks to smartphones, calls from digital advertising are on the rise: studies show that search, social and display advertising will generate over 129 billion phone calls to US businesses this year, up 19% from last year.

The drop in customer call volume due to the eclipse and associated loss of revenue yesterday adds to the already gloomy cost of the eclipse to many businesses. One study estimates that the eclipse cost US companies nearly $700 million in lost productivity.

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