Not at work? No problem…No line and no waiting if you have an Answering Service!

Today, I put statistics to the test.

I had a car accident last week. It was not my fault; I got t-boned by somebody in a Ford 250 who didn’t feel the need to stop at a stop sign.  The insurance company totaled my vehicle. Although the Dodge Charger Hemi I’m driving around courtesy of the rental company is quite a rush, I wasn’t looking forward to car shopping.  Ugh.  When would I have an afternoon to hop from dealership to dealership, comparing models and prices and options, and then bargain with sales reps to make the whole experience affordable?

So I turned to the internet.  It didn’t take long to scope out the packages and previews and decide exactly what make and model I wanted in my new vehicle.   Problem:  The dealership in town didn’t have my choice on site, and I really needed this car before the rental ran out.  So I randomly chose three dealerships to contact.  Two were over an hour away, and the third was just up the road a short twenty minute drive.  I composed an email explaining exactly what make and model I wanted in a car, how much I was willing to pay, and how quickly I needed the vehicle.  Then I cc’ed all three dealerships, so that they could SEE they were in a contest for my business, and hit send.

Five minutes later, I had a call from the dealership farthest away from me.  The sales rep had already found me three cars that fit my specifications, and offered to begin processing credit for me.  I agreed, and she said she’d call back within the hour.  Twenty minutes after that, a rep from the second dealership called.  He, too, had three cars, but I explained that I had already been contacted by the competition.  He asked if he could put a package together for me, anyway, and I said, sure, if you think you can beat that first offer.  Then he put me on hold—really?  He put me on hold??–and I hung up on him because the first rep was buzzing in with an offer.  By the time the third dealership called two days later—the dealership only twenty minutes away from me–my new vehicle was all but in my driveway.  I had struck a bargain over the phone and the internet with the first representative.  Her offer was no better than the other two, but she had contacted me first, and she made me feel that my time and convenience was important to her.   I simply did not want to go through the process of untangling my credit application from one dealer and switching to another, so she was able to close the deal.  Indeed, the early bird got the worm. Had the other two dealerships had a reliable answering service their response time would have been quicker and probably assured them the sale. Or in the very least I would have gotten a competitive bid on the vehicle I wanted.

All of this proves the statistics:  Leads contacted within an hour are seven times more likely to close the dealI liked the first sales rep who called me—she was pleasant and knowledgeable, and she led me very carefully through all the steps I needed to select and purchase my car.  After establishing that relationship with her, I was not going to abandon ship.  We had a deal.  Even when the final company actually offered me the same vehicle for $250 less, I was committed. They had taken two days to respond, and the stats also show that leads contacted 24 hours later or beyond show a diminishing return. The first rep called within five minutes of my inquiry and had me hooked before anyone else was even in the picture.   In today’s busy world, who has time to wait?  We want things right now, and the representatives who give it to us right now earn our business.  It’s that simple.

I came away from my car-buying experience determined to continue to emphasize to our staff the importance of responding to clients RIGHT NOW.  And it serves as a reminder of how important a good answering service can be.  With an answering service that checks emails and answers calls with a real-live operator, a potential client can call any time of the day or night, regardless of how tied up in other business traffic you may be, and get a quick response. That quick response could be what seals the deal.

Challenge:  How long does it take our company to get back to potential leads?  What can we do to shorten that time and beat the statistics?

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