Customer patience wears thin after a minute

November 07, 2012
Written by Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery
Nov. 7, 2012, Chicago – A new survey confirms that keeping customers from languishing on hold can motivate them to make a purchase and recommend your store to others.

A new survey by the voice-based marketing automation firm Ifbyphone shows 81 per cent of local stores answered the phone in less than 60 seconds; one in five took longer – a stretch of time that can feel like an eternity when a customer needs an answer.

The complimentary Ifbyphone Consumer Response Survey released in May found consumers were 59 per cent more likely to buy and 73 per cent more likely to recommend a brand when a call was answered in less than a minute.

Response times and rankings were measured by three independent secret shoppers who clocked the amount of time it took for each brand to start a live conversation at both local and corporate locations. All brands included in the surveys were named to the STORES Magazine list of the top 100 retail brands of 2011.

When calling local numbers, fast response was a common characteristic among nearly all the retail brands contacted for this study. The average time to reach a real person at all 100 brands with local store phone numbers was just under 36 seconds, though the majority (55 per cent) answered in less than 20 seconds.

"The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index clearly indicates that regardless of ranking, the top 100 brands demonstrate a commitment to answering customer calls quickly," said Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone. "The outstanding performance of these brands stands as an example of the importance brands place on fast customer response as key to their business model. Clearly, for companies to compete, they need a combination of technology and staff to optimize responsiveness."

Secret shoppers also called the most prominently displayed 800-number listed on each brand's website to follow whichever path they felt was the fastest, most natural way to start a live conversation.

"The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index measured calls to corporations in order to include the experience of a customer calling a brand at the main number displayed on its website," added Shapiro. "Most callers to an 800 number expect to quickly reach a live person."

While the top brands expedited customer calls to local store locations, the study found that two-thirds are still lacking on response times at the corporate level. It took between one and eight minutes to reach a real person in the bottom two-thirds and customers waited an average of two minutes and 15 seconds to hold a live conversation.

"Since customers are much more likely to convert or refer when a call is answered in less than one minute, retail brands, especially at the corporate level, need to adjust their marketing strategies to make responsiveness a higher priority," said Shapiro.

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