Duh. It sounds like a no-brainer, but a calling test done by FastCall411 last April showed that 64 percent of businesses called to determine if they were available to help a customer immediately -- weren't!
It's not quite as bad as it sounds...it's not that all those businesses didn't answer their phones or refused the call or had busy signals (though that was the case for many). The calls were made to businesses in the standard business directory database from which online directories get their listings - and (as anyone who has used online local search knows) - that database gets dated fast.
How fast? "To do a local search is no trivial task, because every day 80,000 companies go into, or out of, business and disappear or appear in the database and have to be adjusted for. "
(Source: Mike McCue's "Vision for the Convergence of the Phone and the Web")
So combine this information with a new survey just released by FastCall411 (full disclosure: I work with this company) that "8 out of 10 Americans have little patience for merchants who don’t answer the phone – especially after repeated attempts to make contact. And when it comes to the key demographic for buying most home and professional services -- adults 35-44 -- that figure rises to nearly 88 percent."
Pretty much, this is a major disconnect between the information available and what the consumer really wants. It's why we settle for large firms that tell us they'll get to our house "next week one day between 9 and 4" - and why we complain bitterly about disintegrating customer service.
FastCall411 is launching at DEMOfall2007, so in the future, I'll be able to write more about how this all fits together, and how the company is designed to connect consumers with local businesses that are ready and available to provide services.