Hi everybody! Steve here at Specialty Answering Service and today I’m here to talk to you about improving your lead response time with a 24-hour answering service. now when your leads are reaching out to you, they’re looking for something and they’re looking for it fast. So if you don’t have that quick and instant response time you’re losing business. I mean you’re practically daring your callers to call your competitor and you’re out of luck if your competitors have a quicker response time than you do. I mean the ability to get back in touch with your leads and that timing from their initial inquiry is crucial on your ability to close those leads. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, businesses that were able to get back in touch with their leads within the first hour of their inquiry were seven times more likely to close that lead than businesses that weren’t able to get back in touch with them and got back in touch with them outside that first hour. If you want to take it a step further, businesses that were able to get back in touch with in that first hour were 60 times more likely than the businesses that got back in touch in over 24 hours. So as you can see timing really matters when you want to close those leads. Now of course you’re probably wondering, “What am I doing? I’m not closing all my leads within the first hour!” And you don’t have to worry because you’re actually in the majority because only 37% of businesses are actually consistently getting in touch with their leads within the first hour.
So you’re probably thinking “Alright. How do I get in that elite 37%? How do I get back in touch with my leads within that first hour so I can close them and increase my business?” Well I have a solution for you and that is a 24-hour answering service. And today I’m going to show you what solutions we can put in place to help you out and close those leads as quickly as possible.
So of course when it comes to reaching out to you and your team for those leads that are answering service with capture after hours we do realize that not every single call needs to come through to you and your team. We realize that your businesses are run by real people who are the other priorities and responsibilities outside of working. And, of course, nobody wants to be on the phone and on the clock 24/7. So we’re able to work with you to set up specific protocol so we can make sure that the calls that are being transferred over to you and your team are only there’s really urgent and important hot leads. And then those calls that are maybe not as urgent – some questions that we could answer for the callers they can be sent a different way.
So as you can see here, of course, those calls that are maybe a wrong number or like I said those basic FAQ’s that you can provide our operators to answer on your behalf, those maybe can just get a text message and email and they are free with our service. And, of course, you still have a record of that happening, but it’s not disrupting whatever activities you’re presently engaged in. But then, of course, as we get a little hotter, maybe it’s those messages that are being left for you, maybe not as urgent as those hot leads, but still something you may want to attend to. You can have the choice of whether those would be transferred or, again, just those written messages be sent to you. And then, of course, with those hot leads we want to make sure you’re able to close those leads right away.
So in those situations, of course, we suggest and what would be most beneficial from our experience is that transfer over to you and your team so you can get right on the line and close that lead before they potentially go and call one of your competitors or something along the lines of that. And, of course, we have many different ways that we can transfer calls to you and your team and I’m about to show you how that can be done
So there are many different ways that we can transfer those hot leads over to you and your team to make sure you can close this leads, of course, in the quickest way possible. Now the three I am going to outline for you today that we here at SAS can do for you are: A Warm Patch, Cold Patch and Reach.
So the first one, our warm patch, what that can consist of is the caller would call in to Specialty Answering Service we’d say “Thank you for calling, the name of your business, how can we help you?” and if it’s somebody who is looking for your services, wants to buy your product – whatever you qualify at your business as a hot lead. We want to make sure we get them right over to you and your team so we’ll take their name and their number and then tell them “Please hold I’m going to try to get a member of our team on the line for you.” So they’ll be put on hold for just a second with a little music and then we’ll reach out to you and say, “Hi I have John Smith on the line looking to speak to you about services, product …” like I said before whatever you qualify as those hot leads that you want to close if you are available to take the call. Then, of course, we’ll connect the caller right to you and we’ll, of course, be on the line to introduce the caller to you make sure both parties are connected and then once you guys are connected we’ll take ourselves out of the equation and then you two can continue to converse, close the lead and make sure that everything is handled accordingly.
Now the next option that you have is a cold patch. It’s very similar to the warm patch, it’s just a little different on when we would connect the caller to you or a member of your team. So, of course, just like that warm patch, caller calls into SAS same friendly and customer service oriented greeting, “How can we help you today?” And then after they’ve also announced that they have interest in your services or product, we, of course, want to get them right over to you again. But with this one what we will do is connect the caller directly to you. So the operator won’t stay on the line to introduce the caller. But, of course, this helps than the caller isn’t put on hold and gets right over to you and your team so you can handle the call, close the lead, and make sure everything is successful.
And then, of course, the third type of transfer we can do – it’s not as much a transfer, but it at least gets member of your team on the line so the situation at hand can be handled in a timely manner. And that’s a reach. So with this one the caller would call into SAS. “Thank you for calling how can I help you today?” And then once we gather their information that you’ve outlined with your customized call handling, we’ll let them know that we’re going to pass it along to a member of your team who can handle the situation and who will be right back in touch with them to help them with their situation. So then after this call ends, we then would begin a reach out to your on call. Now, that can be just one person, multiple people – or if you have a rotating on call schedule, we can, of course, implement that into your call handling to make sure they’re always reaching out to the right individuals. So, of course, are operator would first try to reach out to the first person on your own call schedule. If they’re available and take the call, we relay all the information to them. We can also send him a text and email you want them to have a written transcription of what we just told them. But then, of course, if that first person isn’t able to pick up and you want us to reach out to somebody else we can do that as well. You can have as many people as needed on that reach. Likewise, if we needed to cycle through your on-call schedule until we got somebody on the line because we know what those hot leads had that sense of urgency we can do that as well. So wish those reaches you can be as specific as possible with the protocol we need to follow to make sure that we get that lead over to you and that your team can take the appropriate actions to close that lead. Now, of course, if it isn’t one of those hot leads and it is one of the other leads – we, of course, want to capture those leads for you as well. And now I’m going to show you what we can do for maybe those calls that you don’t want to transfer after hours but you still want to get their information and get in touch with them to handle their situation
So, as I said before, not all of those calls that come in after hours or on the weekends require the action of a transfer because of course we don’t want to interrupt the lives of you and your workers when you have that time away from the office with family, friends, or just enjoying yourself and relaxing. But we do realize that you still want to capture that contact’s information and respond to them to, of course, deliver that quality customer service that you promise your customers, clients, and callers. So in the situations that don’t require a transfer, we have a number of different ways that we can get that information to you so that you can respond when it is most convenient for you and your team.
So, of course, like I said previously in the video – we can send texts and send emails to you and members of your team and there’s no limit to how many people we can send them to because they are free with the service to as many people as needed because we want to make sure that anybody who we can reach out to with that formation gets it so you can respond to your clients and callers right away. We also have the option to set up an integration with a system that you have at your business so that if it’s kind of to save you that step of data entry from an email message or a text message that we can send you. We could do a data push right into your system make sure everything is logged in a way that you and your team are used to. And, of course, as I said it saves you that time so that everything can be handled in the most timely manner possible.
Now what we do suggest if we aren’t transferring the calls to save those callers from maybe going on to your competitor or the next person on their list. We suggest that we let them know when they can expect your call backs. So some realistic return call times instead of just letting them know that someone will return their call. When it’s vague like that, they’re not sure if and when that will happen, but if we give them an accurate time to expect that, they’ll block that out on their schedule likewise prevent them from of course going down the list and calling out to a competitor that is in close proximity to themselves. We can also if you would like us to schedule out that call back. So just like that realistic call return time, they know when to expect your call and won’t be calling out to somebody else because they know that you’ll be calling them out at a particular time and date. They can put that in their calendar. Likewise, just like those integrations, before we do integrate with the number of calendars so I know if one for example Google Calendar very popular now we can schedule on there so that you have it logged for you right then and there as the operators doing it on the phone. So as you can see there are a number of different solutions specialty answering service can offer you to make sure you close those leads quicker than you’ve ever imagined before. And we know that there’s different ways of doing this which is why we allow you to personalize and customize how we’re handling your calls down to the detail so that we can match how we handle them as closely as we what can to how you and your team handle your calls.
So if you kind of want to find out how we can help you out feel free to dial the number I know it’s on the top of the screen just in case 888-532-4794. And if you want to go a step further, go ahead and request a demo with me or member of my team. We’d be able to walk you through our online portal as well as give you a brief overview of how we can help you out with your specific situation. Thanks and I look forward to speaking with you.
In B2B or B2C sales, if you’re not getting back to leads lightning quick, you’re losing business. There’s really no way around it. Without instant lead follow-up, you’re daring that prospect to call your competitor. So, instead of growing your small business, you’re left treading water. Lead officially blown. Although it’s super important to make sure new leads are communicated with and relationships established quickly, in a normal business that’s only operating from 9-5, it’s not always feasible.
However, there’s one tool businesses can use to make sure their employees aren’t expected to work around the clock and no leads are missed: The 24 hour answering service.
It’s all about time
According to the Harvard Business Review, leads go cold very quickly. Their research showed that businesses that were able to contact new prospects within 1 hour of receiving the lead were 7 times more likely to qualify or close the lead versus those companies that tried to contact those companies after an hour – 7 times! Taking that a step further, if you compare the less than an hour response time companies to those companies who waited 24 hours or longer to call a lead back, now we’re talking about that lead being 60 times more likely to qualify or close comparatively. Those are pretty cold statistics if you’re on the > 24 hour end. But despite that, a surprisingly low percentage of companies, 37 % to be exact, will respond to requests within an hour.
So why do companies do it? Why are only 37% of businesses fast to respond? The reality is that most businesses aren’t equipped to contact leads back instantly. There’s no in-house 24 hour staff. There’s no unicorn employee that likes to be answering phones and responding to requests 24/7/365. Businesses aren’t just businesses. They’re powered by people with families and responsibilities outside of work.
Unless you’re running your own 24-hour shifts, it’s time for a change. By diverting those leads and having them captured and responded to by a 24 hour answering service, you’ll be better equipped to close more leads by decreasing your lead response time. With the opportunity captured, you can focus your decision making on what leads does your staff want to be contacted for, and what leads are important – just not important enough to disrupt my sales staff’s lives as 9:00 PM.
It’s all about tools
Routing your sales line to a 24 hour answering service throws any limitations on money and manpower you may be tethered by out the window. For a low monthly price that’s based on volume, you can reap the benefit of that 7 times higher close rate by giving your prospects a live voice to speak with to ensure their lead data is captured. The best companies take this a step further and learn how to take advantage of specific scripting and protocols to find a balance between what the lead wants, and what your employees expect in terms of work-life balance. When setup correctly, your 24 hour sales line can get you in the game:
Deciding which leads should be transferred
While all leads are important, not all need an immediate response from your sales team. For example, someone calling in with a few questions but not showing any real interest in signing up at this time could just result in a message for your sales team to follow up on a later date. However, hot leads, or leads who are very interested in your product or service should probably be transferred to your team to close the deal. Your answering service should be able to program in screening questions which will help the operators determine who would need to be transferred or not.
For example, they could ask your callers “are you interested in signing up or did you just have questions?” If they are interested in signing up, they can transfer the caller to your team. If they just want more information, the reps can utilize your custom FAQs to answer questions and then take a message for callers who need more information.
Deciding on your transfer methods
If you decide to transfer hot leads to your sales team, your next decision should be what type of transfers to implement. Typically, there are 3 types of ways your answering service can reach out to your staff, which include:
Cold Transfer: A cold patch would involve an operator blindly sending a call through to another party, like your sales team. This means they are not testing the line first to see if someone is available. If no one is available, your caller would be given the option to leave a voicemail message for a return call.
Warm Transfer: A warm patch would involve the operator placing the caller on hold to see if the person they are patching to is available. If they are, they can transfer the call through. If they are not, the operator can take down the message details and let the caller know their call will be returned soon.
Reach On-Call: A reach out would involve the operator taking down the message details from your caller and disconnecting the call. They would then reach out to your staff via phone call with the message details and hop off the line. It would then be up to your staff to call the customer back.
Ensuring backup staff or supervisors are in place for the can’t miss leads
If your staff can’t be available 24/7, it’s a good idea to have an on-call system in place so that someone is always around on your side to close those deals that may come in after hours. Your on-call system should be on a rotating schedule so that you can evenly distribute the work, and your answering service should be programmed accordingly.
For example, your answering service script should be programmed in a way that allows the operators to determine which leads need an immediate response and which can wait. For the ones that need immediate response, your agents can access your on-call schedule to reach out to the appropriate person to deliver the message. Instead of having to wait for the next business day for a response, your potential customers will feel satisfied knowing they can speak to a member of your team any time.
For non transfers, provide realistic call back times to keep them interested
For inquiries that don’t require a transfer, it’s still important to provide callers with a realistic time frame of when their call will be returned. Otherwise, they may grow impatient and decide to move on to your competition. If your callers know someone will be getting back to them within a specific time frame, they are less likely to move on. However, it’s equally important to make sure your team is sticking to the timelines your answering service is relaying, otherwise you’re going to lose trust from potential customers, which means you’re going to lose business.
Use available tools to send out emails with more information
If you and your staff are unable to get to every lead that comes in right away, having your answering service send out emails to your callers with more information regarding your product or service is another way to help secure leads. While they are waiting for a call back, your customers can read through the information provided which may help answer questions and familiarize them with your company. When you do reach back out to your customers your interaction will be more streamlined and efficient, since they have already been sent all of the necessary preliminary paperwork when they first called in.
It’s all about making it personal
Voicemail isn’t just cheap. As a lead capture tool, it’s both cheap and ineffective. If you’re using voicemail to capture your leads, you’re failing. Customers would rather connect with a human being than with a business. In fact, according to a Microsoft customer service report, 34% of customers cite the most frustrating aspect of customer service is not being able to reach a live person. As your lead begins it’s journey through your sales funnel, you don’t want to start the relationship on a sour note. The first encounter your customer has should be with a live person. And by using an answering service with 24 hour availability, you can indulge in the benefits of live person-to-person interactions without the cost of doing it in-house.
Let callers know they’re speaking with the receptionist
If your answering service is fielding calls on your behalf, honesty is important. That means you shouldn’t have your answering service lie to your callers to make them think they are speaking with someone from the office when they are not. Not only does this mislead your callers and allow for false expectations, it also shows that your business is not trustworthy. Being up front with your callers from the get-go is a good way to show that your company is transparent and open.
On transfers, let callers know who they’re being transferred to
When building a successful business relationship, communication is key. That means your callers and potential customers should never be left in the dark. When your answering service transfers calls, they should keep the caller in the loop as much as possible. That means they should familiarize the caller with what they are doing (being put on hold) and who they are being transferred to (John from our sales team). The cherry on top of the ice cream would include having your answering service introduce both the caller and your staff member to make for a seamless transition (Sally, I have John from our sales team on the line for you, he’ll be able to answer all of your questions.)
Let the service schedule appointments
If you’re just using your answering service to answer calls, you’re missing out. Having your answering service perform other tasks like helping schedule appointments means one less thing you and your staff have to do. Instead of having to return calls to schedule, potential customers are already in the database, and your team can spend that time preparing and focusing on other jobs and responsibilities. And, those services usually don’t cost any extra which means you won’t be spending any more money than you already were.
It’s all about success
24 hour answering services make it possible for businesses to connect with their sales prospects around the clock. Businesses who are in the know and outsourcing are doing it right, those who aren’t – just aren’t. The same Harvard study that showed 37% of companies responded to their lead within that golden one hour mark, 16% responded within 24 hours, 24% took longer than 24 hours, and 23% of businesses never responded – at all. Surprisingly disturbing, right? Leaving money on the table when it doesn’t need to be is how you sow failure, not success.
Having an answering service operating 24/7 on your behalf could mean the difference between the success and failure of your business. Just giving your leads someone to talk to makes all of the difference. It shows that you care about your customers, and that you care about the growth of your business.
Specialty Answering Service is a leading call center company, helping fast-growing businesses close sales and deliver amazing live customer support 24 hours a day. SAS' friendly virtual receptionists and customized call handling create an outstanding virtual office experience. There are thousands of small businesses already using our services. Try SAS for free today.