Just covered by the Sunday Times in South Africa, the first timetoreply Online Reply Time Report shows just how much scope there is for Internet service providers to up their game, reply faster to prospects and reap the benefits of fast website reply time.
Our anonymous survey of Internet service providers shows that almost every South African Internet service provider does not reply to inquiries from its website fast enough. A paper detailing the findings of the survey reveals that more than a quarter of ISPs do not get back to potential customers at all from their websites.
The survey, carried out between June 2014 and March 2015, targeted 156 of South Africa’s top ISPs, as listed by the Internet Service Providers Association of South Africa. Each company was emailed a series of mock inquiries at different intervals, either directly or via online web forms from separate monitored email addresses. The time it took each ISP to reply to the emails was logged and ranked in order of how long it took them to get back to the research team’s “secret agents”.
ISPs were named in accordance with how fast they replied:
- Hare – a reply time of less than 30 minutes
- Sheep – a reply time of between 30 minutes and 1 day
- Tortoise – a reply time of more than one day
- Dead Duck – did not reply at all
The full report giving top performers, results and analysis of the survey can be downloaded for free at https://timetoreply.com/ISP-survey/
Most surprising was the number of ISPs that did not reply at all. After all, Internet service provision is an industry where customer service is king. Yet our survey tells us more than 28 per cent of ISPs do not reply to inquiries from their websites – a medium that is surely the most relevant of all to the industry. Perhaps most disappointing, is that only two per cent of all ISPs surveyed actually came back to us in less than 30 minutes, the fastest replying in a respectable two minutes.”
We already know most businesses don’t reply fast enough to website email leads. When you consider people prefer email to engage with brands more than twice as much as social media, even telephone, the opportunities being lost from tardy replies come into sharp focus.
From both our own research and third-party studies we’ve determined the optimal lifespan of an inbound lead is around five minutes and that, on average, 78 per cent of sales from inbound leads go to the first to reply. Based on that research this study shows categorically that South Africa’s ISPs are not getting back to potential customers in time. Whether that’s down to apathy, disorganisation from sales people or slow communication between technical and sales departments is irrelevant, because the result is the same – disappointed customers and sales lost to competitors. All things being equal, businesses that reply fastest win the sale.”
We’ll be extending the survey to a range of industries in South Africa over the next 12 months, in a project that will collate and analyse website reply times in the context of customer service from South African websites. We’ll also be going back to survey ISPs during this time. It’ll be interesting to see if reply times have improved and whether potential customers of South Africa’s ISPs are enjoying improved levels of service.