6 ways to dramatically improve your response time and increase sales

In the competitive sales world, quickly responding to every lead and customer’s concern is crucial to success. It’s not rocket science if you think about it. Just put yourself in the customer’s shoes — would you be happy doing business with a company that takes ages to respond to your inquiries? When it comes to professional email response time, it can make or break a deal.👍👎🏼🤝🏻

It may come as a surprise that most businesses are taking too long to get back to their leads and customers. In fact, a study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that although 37% of businesses responded to their lead within an hour, and 16% responded within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours—and 23% of the companies never responded at all. This is a clear example of email response time expectations not being met.

Shockingly, the average response time among companies that responded within 30 days was 42 hours. In another study published by Super Office, it was reported that a whopping 62% of companies do not respond to customer emails at all. Ouch. This highlights the need to understand what causes slow response time.

This is especially concerning, given how quickly online leads go cold. The facts are that businesses that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision-maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. So, when spending big money on lead generation, you must respond QUICKLY.

How do you ensure a timely response? 

We have 6️⃣ ideas.

1️⃣. Establish your Average First Reply Time and Total Average Reply Times

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. So, the first step would be to understand exactly what your company or team’s average first reply time and average reply times are. Your average first reply time is the average time your team/company takes to respond to an inbound email. Similarly, your average reply time is the general average amount of time it takes your team/company to reply to an email.

timetoreply’s Overview Report give you quick access to email analytics without doing any manual calculations. It provides you with insights into your professional email response time.

See a portion of the timetoreply Overview Report below. As you can see, it tells you your first reply time and overall reply time for any date range you choose.


2️⃣. Set reply time standards and goals

Once you’ve established your overall reply times, you can aim to improve them. At timetoreply, many of our customers split their reply time goals between the 8-hour (or one business day) and 4-hour mark, and then have stretch goals from there. Setting email response time expectations is crucial for your team.


Lonnie Jackson, Vice President of Customer Experience at Ontellus, explains how Ontellus has improved their reply times. “When we started, we were only responding to 62% of emails within an 8-hour business day, which is a scary metric for me. Now, it’s gone up from 62% to 82% as a company, against a target of 95%. And that’s been under the disruption of COVID, so I’d like to think we’ll hit our target soon.”

How did they do it? Primarily, they gave their agents access to their reply times within the timetoreply dashboard so that they could monitor their own progress. That brings us to point 3.

3️⃣. Incentivize quick reply times

Prioritizing swift responses within your organization is crucial to enhancing professional email response time and meeting email response time expectations. Lonnie underscores this significance by incorporating response times into their agents’ Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

This approach is especially beneficial for roles such as customer service and key client agents, where measuring success can be challenging. Moreover, they integrate timetoreply reports into their daily meetings and distribute the Overview Report to senior management. The Scheduled Reports feature simplifies this process, which allows automated report delivery to designated recipients at a frequency of your choosing. This feature proves handy for individuals who prefer not to access the timetoreply dashboard daily.

To further promote quick reply times, consider fostering a sense of healthy competition. Implementing friendly monthly or weekly reply time contests, whether between sales and support teams or within individual teams, can be an effective strategy. Recognizing the winner with a special bonus or the honor of being the fastest responder can serve as additional motivation to meet the recommended response time for sales and ensure a timely response.

4️⃣. Leverage email automation and use templates

If your teams receive a lot of the same kind of queries, you should have templated responses or snippets ready. Once you start using templates, you’ll wonder how you ever handled customer service before them. 

Templates are great ways to pre-package answers to your most frequently asked questions, comments, and concerns. By using a template, you ensure that you have a quick answer readily available — and you’re ensuring consistency across your team when they respond to the same questions.

5️⃣. Identify and address points of delay

You can incentivize fast reply times as much as you like, but often, there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed. You can look at your conversation logs in timetoreply’s dashboard to understand how many email messages each conversation thread has in it.

 If it’s a game of email ping pong, some of your agents may need some training in how to reply more comprehensively, or there may be a trending issue that is taking up a lot of time to handle.

Lonnie from Ontellus explains how Ontellus decreased their email volume with the timetoreply tools.

“The other thing that was interesting was the volume of emails. When we started, we were getting over 1700 incoming emails a day. Part of what the timetoreply tool has allowed us to do is go into the data at a firm level and look at where the largest concentration of emails was coming from. Using the timetoreply email threads tool, we could look at the nature of the conversations and analyze why some firms were emailing back and forth a lot more than others. This helped us to accurately identify process and training issues. This meant we could go in and have some important conversations with our customers about the frustrations experienced on both sides and how we could better our communication.”

6️⃣. Make sure you don’t miss any messages

Lastly, if you are flooded with customer emails, some might slip through the cracks. If you don’t have a way of checking, this will negatively affect your customer service response time. The solution would be to access all your open email queries in one place. Then, it would be easier for your support/sales team to reply to 100% of your messages.

Timely responsive customer service is central to delivering quality customer experiences and more sales. It is well worth spending effort monitoring and tweaking your response times. We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas to work with to improve response time and meet email response time expectations.

Interested in trying a specialist email solution to dramatically improve your response time and improve sales? Then try Ignite For Inbound Sales Teams. Ignite your inbound sales with real-time email analytics and performance optimizations to help your sales team act quicker to close more deals.

See how Ignite could work for your team: Book a demo or Request free trial


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