Have you ever received an auto response from a company you emailed or contacted online? If so, it probably stated that you would hear back from the company within 24 hours. While 24 hours is the common standard for responding to customers, it’s simply too slow for today’s fast-paced world.
In fact, slow responses could be one of the main reasons you aren’t hitting your growth targets or reaching your sales goals. Here’s how slow response times can waste your marketing budget and why faster responses to your leads are so important.
What’s Considered a Slow Response Time
If you’re looking for ways to speed up your response times, you first need to know what’s considered “slow”. Research shows that the average response time is 38 hours, which is way too long. By that time, your customers will think you’ve forgotten about them. Even 24 hours is too long. That may have been the standard years ago, but it is no longer acceptable. Conventional wisdom is that a response to emails and web forms within 12 hours is acceptable. If you can respond within just a few hours, that is even better.
When a customer or potential customer reaches out to you, he or she wants answers NOW, not in 24 hours. If you wait 24 hours simply because you think it’s OK to do so, you could lose your lead. You’ve got to hustle to keep leads happy and interested.
Why Response Times Matter
If you’re wondering why it matters if you respond to an email in two hours or 20 hours, you’re underestimating how valuable a fast response is to your customers. According to one survey, customers rated fast response times as the most important aspect of their experience with a company. Therefore, if your response times are slow, you are failing to meet customer expectations. That’s a surefire way to lose business.
Unfortunately, only 12% of surveyed customer service managers reported that they were focused on sending quick responses to customers. If you are not one of these rare few, you need to re-evaluate the importance you place on responding quickly. Make sure all of your customer service representatives know how important it is to respond quickly to all leads.
What Potential Consequences Can Come From Slow Response Times
The modern consumer is impatient, and it’s easy to see why. Gratification is instant these days, and if people have to wait too long for a response, they’ll probably move on out of frustration. Here are some of the potential consequences you could face if your response times are too slow.
- Non-converting leads: If a lead contacts you and you don’t respond in a timely manner, that lead will probably never convert into a paying customer. If you’re struggling to convert leads and you don’t know why, you may want to take a second look at your response time. Shorten it, if possible, and see if you are able to convert more leads as a result.
- Damaged reputation: Did you know customers are more likely to complain about bad experiences than they are to talk about their good experiences? As a business owner, that means you need to work extra hard to make sure every customer has a positive experience working with you. One of the first steps you can take to maintain your good reputation is to respond to customers quickly. If you take too long to respond and the customer feels ignored, he or she is more likely to complain about you to others and damage your reputation.
- Loss of loyalty: Take a moment to think about companies you’re loyal to. What have they done to earn your loyalty? While the list may be long, it most likely includes fast response times. When companies respond to you quickly, it means they value you. On the flip side, if a company takes a long time to respond to you, it is sending the message that it doesn’t truly value your business. Be the type of company that values others and earns their loyalty.
- Loss of revenue: Every business wants and needs to earn revenue. In order to do that, you need to make enough sales. If you’re not converting leads and keeping current customers happy by responding to their questions and needs quickly, they’ll probably take their business elsewhere. When that happens, you lose out on revenue.
In addition to all these negative consequences, you’re also losing the effectiveness of your marketing dollars when you don’t provide good customer service response times. If your response time is slow, it could also result in an overflow of leads. Since all leads aren’t created equal, it can be difficult to separate the qualified leads from the rest if there are too many waiting for a response from you at the same time.
How To Improve Your Response Time
Now that you know how important it is to respond to emails and webforms quickly, you may be wondering how to do it. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use email autoresponders
- Use templates to save time on responses
- Hire a lead response team
Email autoresponders can assure your customers that you’ve received their query and are preparing to respond to it. Ideally autoresponders should be sent out within a couple of minutes of the email or web-form submission.
If you receive the same types of questions on a regular basis, you could save a lot of time by preparing templates. Supply your team with templates that answer the most common customer questions. This will make their jobs easier and help them respond very quickly to customers. Keep in mind that not all questions or concerns can or should be answered with an email template. When deciding whether to respond with a template or a customized response, use your best judgment.
If you don’t have a large enough customer service team to keep up with emails and web-forms, consider outsourcing this part of your business. You can hire a lead response team to take care of these matters for you.
Start Responding to Interactions Instantly
Are you tired of losing business because you can’t respond to customers in time? Hello Sells can help you solve the problem. Contact us to learn how we can help you turn leads into customers.