What Is the Average Response Rate to Online Inquiries?

To succeed at answering consumer requests for information, companies must strive to be far above average

Most companies fail in reacting to online requests from perspective customers. In terms of the length of time it takes them to respond, companies universally fall far short of current standards and exceed best practices by almost nine times, but most shockingly, in a majority of instances, they don’t even try.

This revealing information comes from Dave Elkington CEO and chairman of InsideSales.com, a lead management and sales automation provider. Elkington’s presentation exposes some eye-opening findings about lead response efficacy – or in this case, the lack thereof.

These findings were compiled from response rate data gathered from six sources over a four-year period. In total, 4,213 companies were contacted. Only 1,754 bothered to respond. This is an appalling 41.6 percent, which means a majority (58.4 percent) made no attempt at all. This is even higher than other comprehensive studies conducted by LiveVoice that measured the no response rate at 43 percent for HVAC companies and 49 percent for property management firms.

“In basic terms, over half of marketing efforts are wasted simply because companies don’t respond to the leads that they generate,” says Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, an answering service call center that provides a lead response service. “Looking at it another way, they could more than double their sales and marketing effectiveness if they would simply follow up on every lead.”

For the 41.63 percent of the inquiries that were contacted, the average response time was forty-four minutes. This doesn’t seem too bad until you compare it to the standard expectation of thirty minutes. “This means that the average response time fell short of the standard by fourteen minutes, which is 47 percent,” Berkson said. “In other words, the average response rate is substandard.”

“Long gone are the days of calling back ‘the same business day’ or ‘within twenty-four hours,’ adds Megan Wilson, senior VP of client services at TeleServices Direct, a worldwide provider of outsource call center services. “Those old, outdated standards no longer apply.”

Yet far surpassing this thirty-minute expectation, the best practice is a five-minute response rate. In respect to the preceding research, the average time it takes companies to answer prospects’ questions is almost nine times longer than best practice.

LiveVoice’s Adam Berkson, however, has a loftier goal of responding to online information requests for his clients within sixty seconds. “That’s one minute,” says Berkson. “Anything longer is too long.”

Peter DeHaan, PhD, is a freelance writer, call center authority, and publisher of Connections Magazine, which covers the call center industry.