Don’t lose those leads

By |  October 1, 2018
PHOTO: iStock.com/peopleimages

PHOTO: iStock.com/peopleimages

It can take years to build a business. It can take just 30 seconds to lose a customer.

Phone calls are still the most common method of customer queries and service orders, but social media messaging and online chat portals are gaining ground quickly. That means there are increasing entry points for your customers and potential clients. It also means pest management professionals (PMPs) have to keep up with the increased volume of incoming requests for service.

Here are some pointers for balancing a heavy volume of orders, and the growing importance of social media in making sure your company can bolster its “speed to lead.”

Every phone call matters. Answer every one, but be transparent with your customers. Tell them you are busy and try to set reasonable expectations, but go ahead and set a timely appointment. Check in with the customer as the appointment approaches. Calls at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. can help you get a feel for whether they have booked services with another company. If they have, you can fill that slot ahead of time.

Stay on top of social media messaging. You may have noticed more queries coming in via social media. Facebook is pumping up its messaging medium. As social media platforms make it easier for customers to communicate with companies, more customers are going to use that as an option. People want to get their questions answered quickly, 24 hours a day. Huge companies like Apple, Amazon and Facebook have raised the bar for response times. Most people aren’t going to cut you slack because you are a small or medium-sized business. People expect a 30-second response time. Facebook now recognizes companies that have a solid response time with badges that are available for the public to see.

Contract your communications needs. Even if you have an in-house person handling incoming service inquiries, you can’t reasonably expect a marketing manager to respond effectively 24 hours a day. You have a very short window to respond to potential customers. Contracting that work out to companies that offer live home service chats, for instance, is significantly cheaper and can pay for itself with increased leads.

Respond quickly. If a lead comes in via a website chat feature, it is crucial to respond quickly. There is no trail of digital clues to trace for future reference with an anonymous website query. This makes responding to website leads even more critical than responding to social media messages. With social media, at least, you can put together a pretty good profile of a potential customer and track down him or her if needed. A Harvard study concluded that if you respond to a customer service inquiry within five minutes, there is a 400 percent greater likelihood they will book an appointment. If you fail to book within this timeframe, the person will often move on to your competitor.

Triage as needed. If your call volume is overwhelming, your company needs a triage system of sorts. Your focus should be on repeat customers, not necessarily new customers. Target the person with the highest likelihood of converting leads. Those with service agreements should be at the top of the list, followed by repeat customers and new customers.

Be empathetic. Home service chat professionals are thoroughly trained in how to interact and respond to customers. If you still maintain leads in-house, one of the most important points to keep in mind is empathy. Because you’re dealing with pests every day, it’s easy to become desensitized to customers’ needs. Remember, they are calling you because they have a problem. Potential customers will give more data to a reassuring voice than an apathetic one. That means they have made an investment with you and will be more prone to hire you now, or in the future. The more information you can collect, the better chance of converting the lead.

The many ways in which customers interact with your company can seem daunting, but the more points of entry, the greater chance you have of growing your business.

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