Samir Sampat August 25th, 2021

How You Can Improve Business Responsiveness and Customer Service with Virtual Receptionists

Your inbound inquiries are coming in quickly, but you’re unable to respond to them promptly because you’re too busy working or are short-staffed. 

Are these common challenges that you regularly face with your business? Well, you’re not entirely alone, but you’ve likely been slow to address these problems head-on and it’s likely costing you potential revenue. We truly understand these issues and have the advice to help you immediately. 

Your customers will communicate directly with your business via online forms, calls, chats, SMS messages, social media, emails, and any other channel that they’re comfortable using. But, just as important as responding quickly to inbound inquiries, being readily available 24/7 to your customers is an expectation that many now demand. And if you’re not meeting this demand, they will find another business that is. 

Research from HubSpot’s consumer report paints a grim outlook for businesses that are not responding quickly enough to new leads and existing clients. 

The report found:

  • 82% of consumers expect an immediate response to a 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 solo, small, and medium-sized businesses, with limited staff and availability are expected to be available to respond promptly to all inbound inquiries. This can be rather unrealistic as the same staff is also responsible for thousands of other existing projects and client deliverables making it difficult to be responsive during all hours.  

Outsource your responsiveness

Fortunately, businesses that are feeling squeezed due to limited staff and availability to respond to inquiries have available solutions that’ll enable them to outsource and delegate front-line communication responsibilities to others. Outsourced 24/7 answering services staffed by virtual receptionists offer businesses a breath of fresh air as they’re better positioned and equipped to handle prompt lead responsiveness. 

Using a 24/7 virtual receptionist service lets businesses outsource their call and chat answering needs during business hours, nights, and weekends. Virtual receptionists can also serve as a backup answering option during peak hours and seasons for your business — or even just during lunchtime, when staff members are away from their desks. 

The role of virtual receptionists

Virtual receptionists support businesses with screening calls and blocking potential spammers, qualifying leads and conducting client intake, answering customer support requests, responding to text messages, and transferring calls to the appropriate employee to handle, freeing up staff members to focus on existing tasks without losing potential revenue from new leads as they come in. 

You might be thinking about the financial impact of not responding promptly to inquiries and how a virtual receptionist service can help alleviate that concern right now. Well, there is data to provide more clarity on that. 

Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies and their 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 also uncovered 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! 

To quickly recap the above study, businesses shouldn’t be caught napping at the wheel when responding to leads as it can limit their growth. So, if you’re slow to respond, you’ll be putting your business at risk of succeeding for simply not responding quickly enough to inquiries. Rather than assuming that risk, consider using solutions and services that’ll help ensure you’re responsive 24/7. 

Using virtual receptionists as your SDRs

Traditionally, businesses have used virtual receptionists to primarily handle inbound support and lead qualification. However, virtual receptionists are able to provide much more value for your business and free you up to focus on productive work and client deliverables. 

Outsourced receptionists have the unique ability to serve as an extension of your sales development team. This can be extremely valuable for solo and small businesses that are limited by time and resources to promptly follow up with potential new clients. Imagine sending a quick note to your answering service to make an outbound call and scheduling the qualified lead within minutes of them completing your online web form. Well, you’re in luck as that’s all it takes!

Conclusion

Businesses interested in growth should consider improving their lead responsiveness as it pays to be the first to answer their inquiry. One option to improve the speed of answering is by delegating your frontline communications to an answering service capable of not only handling inbound calls but making outbound calls to your potential clients.

You’ll likely start seeing more scalable and sustainable growth in converted leads as your responsiveness increases. Don’t leave your next big client hanging!

Samir Sampat

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.

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