By Daniel Hunter

Nearly half (47%) of small businesses in the UK don't answer inbound phone calls, according to research by virtual PA service, Tele PA.

The study also found that of those who don't answer their phones, a fifth use generic voicemail messages that don't mmention the company name.

“Deferring direct conversation means new business opportunities are lost, and it damages the business/client relationship” says Judith Ludovino, Managing Director of Tele PA. “Availability and helpfulness create good communication — it’s fundamental.”

The study suggests that standards of phone communication ‘vary wildly’, and that small businesses often neglect important courtesy at the first point of customer contact. Over a third fail to greet the caller, and 20% didn’t take the time to listen to their call properly.

“It’s the little things that have a large impact” Ms Ludovino said. But the small businesses of the UK also slipped up on the larger things too, 37% failing to understand the purpose of the call at all.