Based on ReachLocal data of over 3,000 small businesses, nearly a quarter (23%) of local business leads come in after hours through emails, form fills, calls, and chats. Additionally, research shows that 50% of consumers will choose to do business with the company that responds to them first.
The problem isn’t that leads aren’t responded to, but rather there is a delay in the response time, resulting in a loss of business. For example, if 23% of your leads are getting a slow response, you’re potentially losing out on 23% of your revenue.
So, what can small business owners do to communicate with these after hour leads when they’re not actively working? Here are four ways your local business can address the after hours lead gap:
1. Respond Immediately and Set Expectations with Automation
The Internet has conditioned consumers to expect a response no matter what day and time it is. If they complete a form fill and receive no response, they may assume you didn’t receive it or are ignoring it completely, and they may find a different business with a better response time. Marketing automation provides a way for local business owners to respond to leads immediately, no matter what day or time it is. Marketing automation sends a message to potential customers that fill out online forms, and based on the inquiry type, can let them know who will be following up with them and by when. These messages can also provide the person’s direct contact information so the customer can be in control and call again directly to the person who will be able to help them. Marketing automation lets your potential customer know that you received their message, lets them know you will be following up with them, and gives them enough information to follow up with you later.[Tweet “4 ways you can use #automation to stop your #smallbiz from losing potential #revenue.”]
2. Get Leads to the Right Person, Right Away, with Lead Routing
Consumers don’t just want a call back from the office manager, they want to talk with the person that will get the information that they need. You can set up an easy lead routing process to assign leads by inquiry type, and then track to make sure the follow-up call was placed by the right person. Not only do you get the customer what they need faster, but you also reduce the actual work your staff might do in calling a customer back and then handing it over to someone else who can actually help them. Lead routing in addition to marketing automation lets your potential customers know you’ll be responding and then makes sure they’re getting a response from the right person.
3. Use Staffed Chat Services
Research has shown that live chat can increase both conversions and customer satisfaction. Live website chat allows you to keep a 24-hour presence, so even when you and your staff leave for the night, you can still have a chat attendant burning the midnight oil. Your chat specialist is able to address basic questions immediately while capturing lead information like names, email addresses, and phone numbers. When you and your staff come in the next day, you can easily follow up with these leads by phone.
4. Get Easy Access to Monitor After Hours
You don’t want to spend your evenings checking messages and monitoring leads, but with the right tools, you can easily track what has come in and ensure that a good opportunity doesn’t go waiting too long. For example, a lead response app on your phone can give you the tools you need to organize lead sources and more quickly respond to leads when you determine they can’t wait until morning. The ability to easily see what leads are coming in from your phone can also give you peace of mind that you’re not missing out on business while you’re off work.
Pulling It All Together
As an example, Old Pasadena Collection Apartments is using the latest technology to address the after-hours lead gap. Marketing automation and lead routing functionality enables them to respond to leads 24-hours a day. They also have access to mobile app technology so they can manage incoming leads anytime, anywhere.
“Marketing automation tools are allowing us to respond quickly to our leasing leads and has helped us to organize all the lead sources,” said Janette Derbyshire, ReachEdge customer and Property Manager at Old Pasadena Collection Apartments. “That difference in response time continues to make leasing apartments even more successful.”
Bridging the after hours lead gap can be a challenge for many local businesses, but with the right tools and tactics, you can easily follow up with leads and provide them with the information they need before they move on to your competitors.
Josh Siegel is SVP and General Manager of Software and Presence Products at ReachLocal. ReachLocal helps local businesses grow and operate their business better with leading technology and expert service for our clients’ lead generation and conversion. A subsidiary of Gannett Company, Inc. (NYSE: GCI), ReachLocal is headquartered in Woodland Hills, Calif. and operates in four regions: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America.