Harvard Study Says This Is How Long You Should Wait to Respond to a Customer

By Tommy Mello – 

You’re probably losing at least a good chunk of your sales because of this. And it’s right under your nose.

Here’s the scenario I’m talking about: A customer calls you, and you respond two hours later. You might think that’s not too bad, but I’m telling you, good luck: You probably lost that sale to a competitor that called back the same customer in an hour.

It sounds extreme, but it’s true. I’m talking about real data here. After analyzing 1.25 million sales leads, an HBR study concluded that replying back to potential customers within one hour makes it seven times more likely you’ll close a sale than if you reply within two hours.

Many top business owners I’ve interviewed on my podcast say this too, including HomeAdvisor president and COO Craig Smith, who says 15 minutes is the window that businesses are most likely able to get the sale.

OK, even if you ignore all the evidence in front of you, let’s talk common sense. If you’re a customer, would you wait for a business owner to reply to you before you buy something? You would probably just move on to the next available vendor.

So, it pays to be hyper-responsive when responding to customer queries. It’s an unfair advantage that you should definitely capitalize on in your business. Here’s how you can do it, step by step:

1. Review your org chart.

Not all your employees need to be hyper-responsive if it’s not part of their job scope. The worst thing you can do is enforce this willy-nilly across the company, and cause employees to unnecessarily suffer. Make sure you get the right employees in the picture by simply reviewing your org chart in detail.

2. Make hyper-responsiveness a key metric that you measure.

Once you figure out which employees need to achieve this new business goal of yours, it’s time to inspect what you expect. In other words, you need to get the right data into your system. Define what it means to be hyper-responsive: Should your employees reply to customer emails in 10 minutes or less? 24 hours? Once you define what success or failure would look like, start tracking the metric relentlessly with the right software and tools.

3. Have a centralized customer relationship management system.

Data is useless if you don’t store it in the right medium and take action based on it. I recommend you use a CRM to see on one single dashboard who the top performers are and who are not doing too well. And using the data from how customers are responding, set follow-up tasks so your team has the biggest chance to close the sale.

4. Have a FAQ template.

Even the most responsive employees can screw things up under pressure without clear instructions. So it’s best to have a template for all the different FAQs–whoever’s in touch with the customer can just pull that up and answer on the spot. This also helps you close sales faster, since your standardized template is one that you have tested with data.

One last point: If you truly want to be hyper-responsive, reach out proactively to your customers before they contact you. I’m not talking about using some fancy technology. All it takes is a quick call or message to see how they are doing. If they need something, great! You have the best timing to make a sale. If not, they will be a lot more likely to buy from you next time. At the end of the day, it’s all about following up and showing up consistently.