This article is brought to you by our friends at Smith.ai. Smith.ai’s 24/7 virtual receptionists and live chat agents capture and convert leads by phone, website chat, texts, and Facebook.
Your Business Needs To Monitor and Respond to Customers on ANY Channel They Choose
Inbound conversations for businesses are coming through 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from calls or messages via live chat, text, social media, or email as your clients, regardless of demographics, are using their preferred communication channels to engage with your business.
Businesses using unified solutions to answer and act on every inbound lead are likely to capture more leads simply by answering inquiries. Responsiveness is a function not only of speed but also of channel. Increased screen time generates demand for business responses via text message, social media, and website chat.
Data from HubSpot’s consumer research report paints a bleak picture for businesses who are not responding quickly enough to new leads and existing clients.
Their research found:
- 82% of consumers expect an immediate response to sales inquiry.
- 82% of consumers expect to be responded to immediately and 90% of consumers expect it on a support request.
- 80% of consumers say they’ve stopped doing business with a company because of a poor experience.
Businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, with limited staff that are responding to all inbound conversations are also responsible for thousands of other tasks making it infeasible to be responsive during all hours. A lack of prompt responsiveness could prove costly and limit growth.
Automate with a Virtual Receptionist
An immediate growth hack for overstretched businesses is delegating responsibilities to virtual receptionists. Virtual receptionists can provide businesses with 24/7 answering services including after business hours, weekends, vacation coverage, and temporary coverage. By being available during these times, virtual receptionists are able to help businesses with capturing, nurturing, and converting leads by ensuring that they are not left unresponded to resulting in decreasing the risk of losing leads and clients. And considering the high cost of acquiring new clients, it seems like a fool’s errand to not quickly respond to them when they send inbound inquiries.
What Can a Virtual Receptionist Do?
Virtual receptionists are providing inbound business support services like screening calls, qualifying leads and conducting client intake, triaging customer support requests, responding to text messages, and transferring calls to the appropriate staff member, freeing up staff members to focus on existing client projects without losing potential revenue from new leads. Virtual receptionists can also provide businesses with detailed summaries of all conversations via email and SMS, enabling them to remain “in the loop” with their business calls, without having to deal with the interruptions themselves, and then take appropriate follow-up actions as needed.
How profitable can virtual receptionists be when responding to all of your conversations?
Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies’ responsiveness to web leads by measuring how long each company took to respond to a web-generated test lead.
The study found:
- 37% responded to their lead within an hour
- 16% responded within one to 24 hours
- 24% took more than 24 hours
- 23% of the companies never responded at all
The average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.
The study learned that organizations that respond within 1 hour to a lead query are seven times more likely to qualify the lead than those who responded in just 2 hours, and 60 times more successful than those who responded within 24 hours. In fact, 78% of sales go to the first company to respond to a lead.
In short, businesses should not be caught sleeping at the wheel responding to leads when trying to accelerate their client growth and retention strategy.
timetoreply’s suggestion about tracking initial, overall, and average response times for teams and individuals is important feedback for businesses including for small and medium-sized businesses with limited resources and employees. This analysis could help businesses address weaknesses in their responsiveness to new leads and clients via multiple channels.
Can Virtual Receptionists Handle Outbound Conversations?
While virtual receptionists handling inbound support and lead qualification are both a time and money saver, they can also serve as more than just an answering service by handling outbound conversations, too. Businesses can gain back their time by having virtual receptionists make outbound calls and send text messages, schedule appointments, complete appointment reminders to reduce no-shows and cancellations, call leads immediately who completed web contact forms and collect outstanding payments. All of this can be done using the business’ own caller ID on the receptionist’s outbound calls, so the receptionist always appears to work “in” the business directly, and not from a call center or other remote location. For example, if an inbound lead is screened and qualified by the business, but doesn’t feel ready to move forward on that initial call, virtual receptionists can then make outbound follow-up calls to nurture and gently “chase” the lead to encourage faster conversion to a purchase decision.
Leveraging virtual receptionists as your outsourced sales enablement team means faster responses to leads, improved marketing ROI, and accelerated growth towards revenue targets, all while business owners and operators can remain focused on productive work, uninterrupted.
Businesses that are interested in escalating their growth should consider delegating their frontline communications to dedicated remote receptionist teams that can improve their overall responsiveness to all leads and clients. The impact is more scalable, sustainable growth through improved lead conversion rates, and happier clients who are served promptly, without the need to wait for a response.
Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. Smith.ai’s 24/7 virtual receptionists and live chat agents capture and convert leads by phone, website chat, texts, and Facebook.