A new study has found that customer service representatives, especially at tire-focused retailers, fail to book appointments or sell products one out of three times. That was the case even after callers on the phone expressed that they wanted to buy or that they wanted to book an appointment.

The study from conversational analytics company Marchex analyzed 8.7 million inbound calls to aftermarket auto services centers across the United States and found that 13% of all calls to stores result in no connection at all. That is because of hold time or “voicemail abandons,” the study showed.

Or, the failed connection occurred simply because the business did not answer the phone.

“The data shines a spotlight on how auto services stores, particularly those that offer tires, can boost sales just by understanding how to speak to customers at each touchpoint in the journey,” Marchex head of automotive Matt Muilenburg said in a news release.

He continued, “Not picking up the phone or saying ‘no’ too often is simply bad for business.”

The report states that those phone call failures equate to a multi-million-dollar opportunity for brands that can create better customer experiences over the phone.

So how can stores improve call handling and drive more revenue? The report provides three steps:

— Quantity: Fix inefficient processes by taking steps such as answering calls at peak times, avoiding putting callers on hold, and avoid sending callers to voicemail.

— Quality: Make sure every interaction offers a positive experience for the caller. Know your inventory and be ready to offer alternatives with appointments or products.

— Conversation: Request the caller’s name and use it, and ask plenty of questions.

According to the report, the trend of people keeping their cars longer or turning to the used-vehicle market to meet their needs means that “aftermarket retailers and service providers should be bullish.”

Marchex Institute analysts reviewed conversation data across 11 major aftermarket brands. They found that 54% of all calls to auto services stores are from consumers who want specifically to make an appointment or buy a product.

According to the report, stores leave an average of $108,000 of revenue per location on the table each year due to poor call handling.

To generate revenue and improve the customer experience, an understanding of how stores handle these calls from prospective customers is important, according to the study.

The data also showed that 68% of callers who don't reach a business on first attempt don't call back.

“Competition in the industry is fierce, and prospective customers are quick to move on if they don’t get what they want on their first try,” Marchex wrote.

In more than 30% of calls that ended in what the study describes as negative outcomes, customers were calling about tires. Marchex calls tires one of the highest-value opportunities in the aftermarket industry.

Customers heard the word, “no” in those calls often when appointment times weren’t available or inventory was out of stock.

“The data shows there is potentially millions of dollars up for grabs in a growing industry by optimizing phone calls,” Muilenburg said.

He continued, “Calls are a critical step in the path to purchase for the consumer. Yet stores miss out every month on opportunities to generate revenue and capture new customers because of their poor call handling processes.”